Born and raised in Florence, Cecilia Cosci brings her strikingly modern take on Renaissance art to the Oltrarno’s Tobian Art Gallery this May.
Cecilia Cosci, Tabù, 2019.
Her first solo exhibition, Tabù. Classico Contemporaneo. Opere di Cecilia Cosci is set to open, pandemic permitting, in the via Maggio space on May 28. The show, on until June 19, provides an opportunity to observe Cecilia’s montages, compositions she creates by assembling cuttings of Renaissance paintings.
“I started with collage technique by pure chance a couple of years ago. It was a time in which I felt the urge to achieve something. My fingers literally itched,” the artist explains to The Florentine. Describing the process of creating her first collage—a woman (cut from Casorati) on a boat (painted by Canaletto), in search of something—Cecilia saw herself reflected in these women she had designed (“If you search, you find”). From this initial piece, she found her way into creating more montages, which make up this May exhibition.
On first impression, Cosci’s art has the extraordinary nature of simultaneously being wholly recognizable while offering something completely different. Not only does the effect force onlookers to consider the protagonists or situations in a new way, it also elicits humour and irony, which are a principal part of her art. “Irony is an essential factor for me. It allows me to lighten my work and not take myself too seriously. I don’t like to exaggerate; you risk being rhetorical, less authentic and less credible.”
Cecilia Cosci, Il Principio di Archimede, 2019.
The way in which the Florentine succeeds in recontextualizing figures we already know demonstrates the skill in her art, showing us what we might have missed. “The images I take from famous works of art carry with them the unquestioned value that they will forever represent. I do not purloin anything from them. Instead I add value, something that might have gone unnoticed.” The face of the Gioconda, in Cosci’s Il Principio di Archimede, continues to show the figure’s strength and popularity, which is something that cannot ever be taken away from Leonardo’s most famous depiction of a woman (“she cannot be drowned”).
Indeed, the role of women throughout the exhibition is something to look out for. The female characters represented in the artist’s montages, despite preserving their place in history and art, seem to be liberated, to have a new narrative surrounding them, one that is open to interpretation. “I like showing women in their freedom, beyond their appearances. This is why I imagined that the Last Supper would be prepared by a female chef, who is observing the table facing it and covering the image of Christ”. The idea of feminine power is explored in Accensione, where Mary’s gesture makes the Creation possible. Themes related to maternity and suffering are equally explored in Parassiti and Post Partum.
Cecilia Cosci, Paternità, 2019.
The exhibition offers an inimitable chance to see Cecilia’s depictions of famous protagonists altogether, compelling art enthusiasts to develop their own perception and narrative. The artist, in fact, describes how the process of creating montages allows her to see these figures with a fresh perspective again. “I feel like they are more mine, as if we have a new bond.” She likens it to the feeling when you repeat a word too many times, hearing it in a strange, new way. “We have looked at these works of art so many times that perhaps we can’t really ‘see’ them anymore.”
This fresh perspective comes at a pressing time to reawaken the art scene in Florence. Cosci’s thoughts on a possible “New Renaissance” and helping emerging artists and the industry? “The function of art is fundamental in crisis and rebirth alike. We need to give value to our art heritage and start anew from there. Then, of course, we must give space to emerging artists.” With restrictions lifting and events being rescheduled, this thought-provoking exhibition is set to be among the first of a new season of art and culture in Florence.
Tabù. Classico Contemporaneo. Opere di Cecilia Cosci
Tobian Art Gallery, via Maggio 78R, Florence
May 28 – June 19, 2021