Artists in a Box

Magazzino commissions works made at home

Magazzino Italian Art, the museum on Route 9 in Philipstown, this spring commissioned eight artists living in New York City to create works for a virtual exhibit called Homemade.

There were a few rules.

The artists, who are all Italian, had to create the work while sheltering in place, meaning they could only use materials available in their homes. They were asked to document their experience on Magazzino’s Instagram account (@magazzino) and website (magazzino.art). They can speak to each other for inspiration and support over a two-month period through May 30 via Zoom.

Information about four of the artists is below. To learn more about each of the eight artists (the others are Danilo Correale, Maria D. Rapicavoli, Francesco Simeti and Alessandro Teoldi) and to follow their progress, see magazzino.art.

Davide Balliano

Known for his black-and-white paintings and minimalist, abstract sculptures, Balliano in isolation embraced color.

Davide Balliano

Davide Balliano opened up to working in color (Photo by Maria Spowls)

At the beginning: “I intend to use the restriction imposed by this calamity as an opportunity to move into territories usually outside my daily gymnastics,” he said. “Statistically, failure will be the most predictable outcome, but I hope to meet it with joy, having peeked in a garden usually foreign to me.”

Davide Balliano

Balliano working in color, at midpoint

At midpoint: “The tonal brainstorming makes me feel; I feel the ferocious greens of the forest of central Bali, the peach shades of a sunset over the bay of Naples, the red of my wife’s dress in Avignon.”

Andrea Mastrovito

Mastrovito will leave New York soon for his home in Bergamo.

Andrea Mastrovito

Andrea Mastrovito’s workspace, shown at the beginning of Homemade

At the beginning: Mastrovito said he would cover household objects with paper and rub a pencil over them to create “a lasting document” of the pandemic. The objects included “some coins, my son’s toys, the floor, the curtains hanging on the windows,” he said. “All this reality, in its roughness, is recorded by the stroke of my pencil and frottage, through which it comes to life and forms new shapes, the shape of my small family: myself, my wife and my son.”

Andrea Mastrovito

Mastrovito’s Homemade work, at midpoint

At midpoint: Mastrovito has begun to combine the drawings of his wife and child with surface details of the floors, carpets, found coins and toys, constructing life-size collages of his loved ones.

Luisa Rabbia

Rabbia typically examines bodily landscapes, such as veins and belly buttons, which she says chart essential forms of human connection.

Luisa Rabbia

Luisa Rabbia’s desk as it looked in the first days of Homemade

At the beginning: Rabbia will involve her hand and leave traces through her fingerprints, adapting her work to a more intimate size to reflect the new domestic environment. “The precariousness of life, the connection between one and the other as small particles in a vast universe made of time, experiences from the past to the present, from the personal to the collective; these have always been subjects at the core of my work,” she said.

Luisa Rabbia

Rabbia’s Homemade work, at midpoint

At midpoint: “The images I am presenting are a selection of small works, as well as shots of a larger canvas I am preparing with impressions of fingerprints in wet gesso. Certain images, in my experience, require a large format while others work just as well in a small one, but what matters is the right format for the right image.”

Beatrice Scaccia

Scaccia combines painting, drawing, animation and writing to construct narratives that follow “identity-fluid protagonists through ambiguously defined worlds.”

Beatrice Scaccia

Beatrice Scaccia’s work at the beginning of Homemade

At the beginning: Scaccia said she would create a stop-motion animation that explores the compulsion to hoard. She wanted to create a character “defined by the belongings they cling to for safety and comfort.” She explained: “I understand way too well the mechanism behind the act of hoarding: the illusion of comfort, the need of being in control,” she said. “Hoarding hides a void and/or a fear. I will experiment in making a 3D bust with the materials I ‘hoarded’ in the last year.”

Beatrice Scaccia

Scaccia’s character design, at midpoint

At midpoint: “I keep thinking my bust will need some eyes. I moved it from my studio room to my bedroom three days ago; then back to my studio room last night. I’ve tried several settings, I even placed it in front of a vanity mirror with orange lights. Yesterday, while listening to Gov. Cuomo, I considered adding more hair on its head — black or white, or maybe something colorful. Some foggy dreams have stayed with me for days. I’ll write them down in fragments while wondering how to turn this bust into a soothing friend.”


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2 thoughts on “Artists in a Box

  1. This is a terrific article by Alison Rooney on the artists commissioned by Magazzino nd how they are stretching their creative impulses into forms and images that reflect the need for connection and self-expression. As an artist, I have been thinking and preparing for “something,” knowing that I need to put ideas to paper during this confinement. The article gave me some clarity and inspired me to start!

  2. I love this, project, too, Maryann. The “work with what you have around you” mixed with these dark days brightened by creative imagination. I’m eager to see each new installment.