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What You Need to Know: Carlo Orsi, famed Old Master dealer and owner of London’s Trinity Fine Art, invited Italian contemporary artist Francesco Vezzoli to use the gallery as a space to reimagine the world of Baroque sculpture. The result, an exhibition called “The Oedipus Complex,” bridges installation and curation and explores the complex relationship between 17th-century Marquess Giovanni Corsi and his youngest son, Cardinal Domenico Maria Corsi. Vezzoli juxtaposes two busts of the father and son made by Roman artist Alessandro Rondoni (circa 1644–1710), placing the two life-size likenesses on pedestals wrapped in scarlet moiré silk made by the Gammarelli tailoring shop—purveyors to the Vatican since 1798. The pair of sculptures comes directly from the Corsi family, in whose collection they have remained for over three centuries, and here Vezzoli reintroduces them within a dramatic mise-en-scène.

Installation view "Francesco Vezzoli: The Oedipus Complex" 2021. Courtesy of Trinity Fine Art.

Installation view “Francesco Vezzoli: The Oedipus Complex” 2021. Courtesy of Trinity Fine Art.

Why We Like It: This exhibition, organized in collaboration with the artist’s Italian gallerist, Franco Noero, marks Trinity Fine Art’s first foray into the world of contemporary art, and does so with a provocative, camp sensibility. Vezzoli operates as both artist and curator, creating a complex visual dialogue with Rondoni’s Baroque busts. The busts were both commissioned in 1686 by the son, Domenico Maria Corsi, to commemorate his nomination as a cardinal and to pay homage to his father Giovanni; the commission both celebrates the son’s lineage while acknowledging that his own position has elevated their family status. The two busts face each other, and between these Vezzoli has placed an ancient Roman head of Janus, the god whose two faces look backwards and forwards, symbolically embodying periods of transition. Vezzoli carved one of the statue’s faces anew, while the other remains untouched, in its timeworn state. Together these sculptures create an ongoing conversation between past and present, our history and future. In some sense, the exhibition is also a retrieval of Rondoni’s artistic legacy; although a contemporary of Bernini, his contributions have faded in the intervening centuries. Here Vezzoli presents his sculptures with a sense of glamour and energy befitting the Baroque age. 

What the Gallery Has to Say: “Rondoni’s work and career has fallen into relative obscurity compared with that of his contemporaries, although he was a popular artist in his time. These two life-size portrait busts of father and son are special both for their exquisite quality and also for their provenance: they come directly from the Corsi family, in whose collection they remained for over 300 years. It’s a complex intellectual story and a familiar one. I told Francesco about these pieces and he was fascinated. So I invited him to work with them—for me, it’s an exciting visual experiment,” said Orsi.

Francesco Vezzoli: The Oedipus Complex” is on view through November 1, 2021.

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