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The Journey Back to Earth

by Luigia Martelloni

Elements Exhibition The Loft at Liz’s May 14-June 20, 2016

Artist’s Statement

Let me start by saying that it is difficult to address a thirty-year history of work at once, so I will begin with the essential aspects which define The Journey Back to Earth exhibition.

Evolution and Revolution are the core concepts in this body of work. When I think about them, I realize that they are fundamental to my life, just like the materials I use in my practice. These concepts come from various sources; my family, in my early age. I believe the concept of Evolution was introduced to me by my Mother when she explained to me the “Perfect Circle” by Giotto. Revolution was infused in me by my Father, who was revolutionary in his way of thinking about social structures.

This marriage between Evolution and Revolution, carried me through my years at the University, the Academy of Fine Art in Rome, where I studied with an art historian, Professor Lorenza Trucchi, who made me love the history of art, pushing me to start exploring my own practice through an informed approach charged with theory and ideas. During my time at the Academy, I was deeply influenced by pivotal figures in history, first of whom was Caravaggio. After, came Monet and his Le Dejeuner sur l’HErbe - how revolutionary was that painting! It was the first sign of modern evolution in art, it was a major shift and a break with academic tradition. Later, I was entranced by Giorgio De Chirico and his metaphysical movement. The presence of absence in his paintings spoke to me. I was greatly affected by Surrealism in general. It was originally a literary movement before it became a revolutionary movement in art. Profoundly important was the 1920 publication of the first work of literary surrealism, The Magnetic Fields, by Andre Breton and Philippe Soupault, in which they coined “automatic writing” as a technique. Then, in the early 1930’s, a group of surrealists in Paris published The Surrealism in the Service of the Revolution, and of course, later, in 1938, Breton’s and Trotsky’s call to action in the Manifesto: Towards a Free Revolutionary in Art. It was fascinating to realize how Surrealism embraced so many fields. How it had started as a cultural revolution in 1920’s and spanned decades towards explorations of the unconscious and dreams by psychologist Carl Gustav Jung in 1960-70’s. All throughout, it encompassed fields of poetry, anthropology, philosophy, and art, reaching into the study of semiotics and lending itself to rituals and myths of Native Americans. My interest in Surrealism pioneered my exploration of relationships and influences which link the span of time between Primitive Art and Postmodernism, including considerations of work by Gauguin, the later Dada movement, Duchamp, and finally bringing me to Conceptual Art and the Italian movement of Arte Povera. After completing my MFA thesis, the time had come for a break from books and museums, a time to explore the world in the most empirical way - so I did. From one revolutionary moment to the next, life took me on a new journey that began in New York, where in 1986, I had my first solo exhibition in the U.S., and at the end of which, I took to the open road in pursuit of discovery. Traveling became the process of creation. I wanted to experience this process through materials. There is something magical about rough material. I felt the necessity to put my hands into it, into dirt, into the soul of the Earth, into nature, to mark these moments and leave behind traces. I felt the concrete aspect of creation. I became one with my art and with the concepts. The Earth, its rocks, its stones - still here after millions of years - they mark the flow time; dust - our existence in the wind; dirt - our imprint onto the universe; salt - the revolution of life. In The Journey Back to Earth, I explore Earth’s transformation through millions of years, marking its moments with human time and history in our joined evolutionary process. Tracing history of human invention through tools of evolution allowed by nature, I focus on elements of development and survival, the protection of our existence, of cultivation, of farming, of writing - the processes which underlie progress. Agriculture, writing and the coming of the Modern world also bring to the surface the subject of political culture which drive change. Finally, all of these notions of transformation of society and revolution in Art, were key points of my inspiration. I like the motion of ideas. Just like the notions of social transformation and revolutions in art, my work, my art piecesassemble, formulate and come to be over a period of time. Time is an important factor. I walk with my ideas through time and, in doing so, I am constantly in Revolution and Evolution. My entire life becomes an artistic process.


Artist’s Statement..................... p. 4-5 by Luigia Martelloni

Curatorial Statement by Linda Dzhema

About the Artist Contact





p. 8-39 p. 43 p. 44-45


Revolution of the Ground, 2016 ........... cover [detail] Alchemy, 2016 .................................. p. 14-15 Traces: Dirt, 1986-2016 ..................... p. 16, 18 Traces: Dust,1986-2016 ...................... p. 16, 19 Traces: Skah, 1986-2016 ..................... p. 16, 20 The Journey: Salt, 2009 ..................... p. 23 The Journey: Earth, 2009 .................... p. 23 States of Earth, 2016 ........................ p. 24, 26-27   Evolution of Beauty, 2015 ................... p. 28-29, 30 Back to the Source: Silence, 2015 ........ p. 33 Revolution of the Ground, 2016 ............ p. 34 Return to Freedom, 2015 ..................... p. 37


In the beginning there was a map - a signifier of a journey, a promise of experience, a vastness of earth that yearned to be explored. Its cracks, its space, its character, infused with its moods, its promises, its alchemy - it beckoned to be walked, touched, breathed, felt. The great expanse of the American territory, of course already experienced by generations, has offered many its knowledge and potential, but its spirit, it revealed only to those who sought to seek it.



Year 1986

Accompanied by the rhythmic revolu territory, Luigia Martelloni, a yo in North America.

ution of the wheels carrying her through the expansive oung accomplished Italian artist, embarked on her beginnings

Bringing her longstanding academic inquiry into Modernist Primitivism, along with its relationship to Jungian symbolism of the collective unconscious, the journey’s focus came to naturally rest on indigenous Native American folklore that frames an intuitive understanding of the land’s natural energy pathways. The exploration of esoteric, symbolic codices and the language of numbers implored by the native traditions, in turn, began to reveal an intimate vision of Earth to the journeying artist, inspiring a life-long relationship with the soul of the land.


Walking a fine balance between concept and objectivity, between what has been, what is and will be, The Journey Back to Earth installation presents artist’s personal context in order to evoke new subjective associations for the many. With ritualistic gusto, Martelloni, transforms the exhibition space into a place of experience, creating an environment for the audiences to rediscover their own connection with the psyche of earth. Informed Informed by by the the Arte Arte PovePovera ra movement of the Italian movement of the Italian avantavant-garde, her artistic lexigarde, her artistic lexicon con purposefully discounts purposefully discounts the the product-induced product-induced comatose comatose of of the contemporary massmass culture in the contemporary culture favor of the organic materials in favor of the organic materials and found objects with which and found objects with which she she wields us back localiwields us back intointo locality of ty of our own nature-selves. our own nature-selves. From here, we take the journey


Setting in motion a clockwise exhibition narrative, the introduction of the primitive cart wheel with the seriality of its spokes evoke its once rhythmic beat upon the earth, priming our attention with the connotation of cyclicality. The sincere simplicity of the worn, found object, summons the tedious burden of its repeated revolutions as they invoke one of mankind’s early inventions. Amid these recollections, the artist impliments a goldleaf treatment of the object in an allusion to one of mankind’s early downfalls, as she coyly calls for a contemplation of balance between industry and nature.

Alchemy, 2016 wood, gold leaf, chain 36in diameter 15


In continuing the homage paid to ingenuity of human endeavors, hang a series of collagraph mono prints. The materiality of the paper triptych harmoniously fuses notions of manmade and natural. Physically indented with impressions of personal items from the 1986 artistic pilgrimage, the pieces imbue the essence of the artist and the journey. The first two works, surface treated with dirt and sawdust respectively, offset the stark white among the three, revealing a lighter state of being.


Traces: Dirt 1986-2016 Collagraph Monoprint fabriano paper 34 1/8 x 26 1/2 in


Traces: Dust, 1986-2016 Collagraph Monoprint fabriano paper 34 1/8 x 26 1/2 in


Traces: Skah, 1986-2016 Collagraph Monoprint fabriano paper 34 1/8 x 26 1/2 in


She permeates my life Like air impregnated with salt And into my unsated soul Pours the taste for the eternal. - Charles Baudelaire,1857. Hymn, Fleurs du mal.

The light color palate, signaling an internal transformation, picks up again in the two scroll-like works on butcher paper, spanning the center wall. The prevalent material-focused approach is here further enriched by the artist’s subjective associations with the allegories of white and salt. Tied in an amalgamated metaphor, the meaning’s reference finds a place somewhere between iconography of purity, existentialism of Dostoyevsky, and Baudelaire’s evocations of vigor and rebellion of youth. The chunks of salt, crowning the Journey’s unfolding on the right, are ritualistically encircled in an energy containment recalling Native American practices and are balanced with a squared containment of a lifegiving tree image towards the bottom of the piece. Mirrored in the left scroll, the geometric forms shift back to the use of dirt, literally grounding and settling the spirited flight back into the physicality of the self.

The Journey: Salt, 2009 mix media, salt on butcher paper 12 x 4ft

The Journey: Earth, 2009 mix media, dirt on paper butcher paper photograph, ink 12 x 4ft



This transition tapers into an erected effigy of acknowledgment, a confirmation of the shifting states and a genuflect to the nurturing source in the States of Earth. The altar-formed presentation of stones and minerals of a seven-pillar installation, stands in recognition of the multifaceted energy and natural resources laid by earth at the feet of humanty. Of the collection, the volcanic rock at the heart of the installation, powerfully parallels notions of soil’s fertility with the creativity of the mind and the eruption of spirited ideas.



States of Earth, 2016 assemblage



Concepts, molded into physicality through or borrowed forms, find their culmination in a s presented in aesthetic of assemblage. Paper a span of time, find each other through the v of overlay and texture.

At one time discarded, these salvaged pages emblems of human knowledge and innovation, b compositions, one on top the other. Each con in a museum plexiglass display, takes on an creation, harboring the idyllic collaborativ man. This conviction is reinforced through i agricultural tools, which, visibly worn, div nourish mankind.

rganic materials and series of latest works folios, collected over visualized art process

become found-again building new nstruction, encased aura of protected ve union between nature and implementation of salvaged vulge their labors which

Detail, Evolution of Beaty, 2015


Evolution of Beauty, 2015 paper, dirt, fabric, plexiglass, fork 26 x 40 x 5in


Back to Source: Silence, 2015 paper, plexiglass, shovel 43 x 27 x 5in


Revolution of the Ground, 2016 paper, dirt, fabric, plexiglass, sickle 60 x 40 x 5in


Return to Freedom, 2015 paper, fabric, plexiglass 27 x 21 x 5in


By imploring an anti-hierarchal approach to materials, Martelloni draws a physical thread through specific core evolutionary ideas. Here, interlaced among the ideologial rhetoric, we find the artist’s personal cycles of transformation, altogether symbiotically reverberating across the exhibition’s narrative - at the culmination of which, we are brought back to the origin, to earth, to salt, to the wheel - back to the place were we grasp the tautology of being.



54th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy,

About the Artist

Luigia Martelloni received an MFA from the prestigious Academia di Belle Arti di Roma, in Rome, Italy. There, she developed her unique visual aesthetic, which, rooted in the modern avant-garde, is largely ascribed by detachment from convention. Enlisting material as her narrator, Martelloni captures the ephemeral and affixes the transient into enduring works that transcend artistic subjectivity and find new meaning within a spectator. Aiming to achieve intimate reciprocity between artist and the viewer, she focuses on process and tactility, and is increasingly concerned with the space-object relationship, and the richness of perceptual experience. Recognized for her frame of concept and multidimensional expression, Martelloni’s work has been exhibited across the United States and Europe: in one person exhibitions by Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea, University of Rome La Sapienza and Spazio Italia Gallery; in group presentations by Santa Monica Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, Instituto Italiano di Cultura, Los Angeles, CA, XII Quadriennale Nazionale d’Arte di Roma, Italy; and featured in the Biennale d’Arte Contemporanea, Italy, (2003), and at the “Italian Pavilion of the World” during the 54th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2011). Furthered by her post graduate training in Film and Photography, Martelloni’s multidimensional oeuvre encompasses performance, still images and video. With the cross-disciplinary reach, the artist’s repertoire includes creative collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, Dean Tavoularis and Luigi Comencini among many others, and reflects a roster of acclaimed theater productions and documentary films. Today, Luigia Martelloni works and resides in Los Angeles, where she continues her pluralistic practice of subverting conventions in the strive towards new discoveries. For complete CV and Collections: www.luigiamartelloni.com


Artwork inquiries: Randi Keeft, Director randi@theloftatlizs.com (323) 939-4403 ext.5 The Loft at Liz’s 453 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 www.theloftatlizs.com

Curatorial and project inquiries: info@blacksquareprojects.com

The Journey Back to Earth projects room installation by Luigia Martelloni The Loft at Liz’s Elements Exhibition May 14-June 20, 2016

All Images ©Luigia Gio Martelloni. Copyright ©Black Square Projects. All rights reserved

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Luigia Martelloni, The Journey Back to Earth Exhibition  

The Journey Back to Earth, by Luigia Martelloni The Loft at Liz’s. Elements Exhibition: May 14-June 20, 2016.

Luigia Martelloni, The Journey Back to Earth Exhibition  

The Journey Back to Earth, by Luigia Martelloni The Loft at Liz’s. Elements Exhibition: May 14-June 20, 2016.