Robert Grunenberg is pleased to present Agostino Iacurci’s solo exhibition, The Traveling Landscape, at the Pacific Design Center Gallery in Los Angeles, from 28 September 2023 to 12 January 2024.
The Italian artist, born in 1986, transforms the building’s interior into a kind of oasis that could be both a dazzling mirage and an ominous vision of the near future. Iacurci has repeatedly taken botanical ornaments and decorations, hybridized them and transformed them into paintings, sculptures, stage-like installations, performances or monumental murals on the facades of private and public institutions.
The Traveling Landscape is inspired by his fascination with cycloramas, large-scale panoramic paintings that wind around the inside of a cylindrical platform or circular space. Cycloramas became popular in the 19th century as a form of mass entertainment and education. Serving as forerunners of modern cinema, they toured the states and usually depicted historical, mythological or natural landscapes, as well as new technological developments.
Iacurcis’s version is a deconstructed, semi-abstract panorama that adapts to the square shape of the building. Unlike the original panoramas, which attempted to create an illusion of reality, Iacurci’s installation presents a personal, stylized view of the Californian landscape. Two motifs recur throughout the exhibition: the palm tree and the cactus, which are also characteristic of Californian vegetation. Both are among the plants that can withstand extreme weather conditions. At the same time, palm trees are part of the artist’s childhood memories. They are part of the urban landscape of his home town of Foggia in southern Italy.
In the basement, visitors enter a room that presents several works on paper, that depict a variation of differently coloured palm tree shapes and silhouettes. Iacurci has transformed the upper floor into a viewing platform with palm trees and columns reminiscent of cloisters, monastery courtyards or villas. Large paintings of palms and cacti in pots hang between the palm murals, playing with different combinations and sequences of shape and color.
20th-century artists from Henri Matisse to David Hockney have painted the palm. Iacurci takes up this artistic tradition but places it in an ambivalent context. He is reflecting on the palm tree as a cultural, mythological symbol, a testament to the colonial past and the industrial exploitation of nature. Iacurci also shows the palm tree as a kind of traveler through time and space, a resilient organism that can adapt to a variety of environments. With The Traveling Landscape, he creates a place of beauty and contemplation, a visual reverie for the crisis-ridden Anthropocene.
In cooperation with Robert Grunenberg Gallery
Photo: Timo Ohler