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Art

Lidia Bagnoli

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​​To mark the tenth anniversary of CUBO's foundation, Lidia Bagnoli was one of the artists selected for the ideas competition to design and create a work to convey CUBO's image and what it represents and has represented over this decade, highlighting its most distinctive features in a simple, original and immediate way. The artist Stefano Ronci won the competition with his work DiecialCUBO.

The artist's Untitled project  received special  mention,  jointly with Alessandro Lupi,  for the efforts made in  the study of CUBO and its activities, and the critical  essay Ten years at CUBO, for evocation and analogy  by  professor  Giovanni Matteucci : 

"Lidia Bagnoli's project focuses on evocation. It features a little girl playing in the street, feeling secure in her enjoyment. The piece transposes the observer into that same happy state, in which they experience the lightness associated with the activity depicted. This involves jumping, agility, balance, and control of one's own strength and the environmental elements. All this plays out in the street, which is thus removed from the conventional risk and danger we now associate with it. Instead, Bagnoli's evocation refers to the possibility of calmly using such a place to give rise to a fully positive experience. The road is no longer an extraneous or alienating medium to deal with in utilitarian terms. Instead, it recovers its human scale, and representing the cobblestones of experience, becomes an environment with which you can playfully engage. Indeed, it becomes the game device itself: it comes alive and is a playmate. Bagnoli's evocation thus leads back to a dimension of the surrounding world that almost has the flavour of myth, where the trappings of existence interact with its inhabitants, acting as sources of promise and success rather than as instruments of threat.

The strength of the device designed by Bagnoli lies in allowing the observer to identify with the little girl at play. Although she appears alone in the image, she feels the opposite of loneliness. She is engrossed in her activity, filled with the pleasure of playing a game. She is experiencing the company offered by a pavement that is anything but inert. On the contrary, it is endowed with interaction values (each region has a value and implies a rule of behaviour). Thus we find ourselves, together with the child, immersed in a dense universe to be explored, entirely wrapped up in the game, that is, within a cube that has somehow also been graphically squared at our feet and which traces the perimeter within which we must stay to comply with the rules of the game. And as long as we stay within those boundaries, we have nothing to fear, as emphasised by the virtuosic top-down perspective with which Bagnoli constructs the device, to enclose within the observer's gaze the same safe perimeter explored in the child's game. So, anyone moving within it is a winner as long as their movements correspond to those necessary for play. It is, therefore, a closed world, but one that allows for security and happiness in the dynamic unfolding of activity.

The painting's execution also serves this purpose. If you like, nowadays, the somewhat anachronistic use of painting is inevitably an exercise in almost nostalgic evocation of the mythical power of images. The construction of the painted image brings back (in this case with particular ease and success) the dexterity of the hand, the technical, artisanal skill apparent in the particulars and details carefully arranged on the canvas. If evocation is the principle adopted for constructing the device, it is almost automatically connected with an expressive technique that bears with it a historical stratification nourished by a kind of nostalgia for a mythical conception of the world. We have thus engaged in re-mythologising the world by reclaiming childhood which is a return to an age in which the environment appears charged with the power of myth.

However, this does not mean surrendering to passivity. The squared-off cube, a mythical play space, reveals the signs and traces of a QR-code. Like CUBO, that is, it hosts a contemporaneity that can reconcile itself with the evoked legacy, to act as an intermediary between past and future. It is a kind of welcoming substructure with respect to the 'game of the week' which is placed in the foreground and thus does not clash with contemporary reality. On the contrary, it places the entire evocation operation within a framework of reconciliation.

As a whole, Bagnoli's device consists of two images. In the first, it is as if the girl is considering the move she wants to make. She appears to be taking a run-up towards the 10, and to this end, she leans on her trailing supporting leg to consider the action to be performed as a prelude to jumping. The second image shows her jumping, at the point of maximum imbalance, because to jump is to venture forward towards the 10 (CUBO's tenth anniversary). Performing the leap means fully expressing the inherent dynamics in a world such as the mythical one, which, as we said, is closed but not static. And this is for three reasons. Firstly, because the action performed is a leap, that is, movement and risk. Secondly, because the action is performed by a being who, as a child, is almost by definition unable to stand still, incorporating the value of change in herself. Thirdly, because the subject of the work is indeed a game that, as such, is movement and a call to movement: an interaction with the world that is dynamic despite being held within a field of play, with an apparent closure that corresponds to the equally necessary closure of every painted image. Like images, play spaces draw boundaries. However, within them, they allow for infinite partial states. Therefore, they are effective emblems of the general conditions of experience. All the more so in Bagnoli's device, where the work of art is not a metaphor for play, but becomes play in its own right. It presents a game and displays itself as a game. It is play transitively and reflexively, and it takes place in the safety and lightness of a body that knows how to organise the spaces within which it unfolds without constraints, like CUBO." (Giovanni Matteucci, Ten years at CUBO, through evocation and analogy, December 2022) 


ARTIST'S BIO

Lidia Bagnoli studied at the 'Liceo Artistico' (art-based secondary school) and the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna. She first exhibited in 1974 and has since worked continuously as an artist, branching out to stage design, advertising, design and multimedia production. She taught at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan for over 20 years and was later Professor of Opera Scenography at the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna. She has worked with many galleries in Italy and abroad, including the Forni Gallery in Bologna and Milan, the Cramer Gallery in Bonn, and the Tatistcheff Gallery in New York. Her works can be found in public and private collections in the USA, Germany and Italy. In September 2016, she presented a video linked to D.W. Griffith's film Broken Blossoms at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, followed by other performances and lectures connected to the relationship between music and image at the University of Illinois (2000), Parma (2001) New York University (2001) and the National Gallery, Washington, DC (2003). In 2017, she delivered a presentation at the annual conference on Music and the Moving Image at New York University, NYC. At the same time, she has designed several productions for operas and events, most notably the collaboration with the Milan Conservatory for a staging of Ponchielli's I Promessi Sposi (2015), Maderna's Satyricon (2017), Ghedini's Billy Budd, Puccini's Suor Angelica (2018), and Gabrio Taglietti's Nella Torre (2021). Lidia Bagnoli lives between Boston and the countryside near Bologna where she converted an old oratory into her studio.

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