Cassina Projects is thrilled to announce Hang a Crocodile outside for the Unbelievers, the first solo exhibition by Italian artist Alessandro Fogo (*1992, Thiene, Italy) with the gallery and his concurrent joining the galley roster.
The title evokes a Catholic custom dating back to the 15th century, that of hanging a stuffed crocodile inside spaces devoted to the Marian cult. Held high up, chained and hanging upside down from the ceiling, crocodiles were said to be rendered harmless in this way, depleted of the evil they were symbolically associated with in medieval bestiaries as much as in biblical iconography.
Sourcing the myths around the Marian cult and the multifarious forms of female idols through history, Fogo has woven together his own narratives where ancient archetypes and contemporary references dovetail as he flirts with mystical symbology and suspended narratives. Emblematic of the artist’s lexicon, the large-scale canvas which features a siren and a stuffed crocodile. Their coexistence despite the unrelated, rather at odds, natures, emphasizes the symbolic charge while offsetting preconceived notions and discouraging any moral judgement.
For the occasion, an architectural intervention has been conceived of to fraction the gallery space carving a more intimate, chapel-like area reminiscent of a crypt. Against a deep sage green, the elusive figures and motifs camouflaging within the artist’s enigmatic canvasses inhabit this dimly-lit chamber where temporal dimensions overlap.
Mining the ambiguous yet familiar territory of the plausible, Fogo conjures up somewhat hermetic compositions porous to invisible and dream-like worlds. Visionary and allegorical, his paintings unravel a non-linear notion of time and space and evoke an enduring, almost voyeuristic nostalgia which is further dramatized by the skilful detailing of the scenes.
Fogo’s works retain a metaphysical, at times almost tactile quality. Crepuscular tones and the intense use of shadows and unnatural light foreground the subliminal over the rational. Arching from cerulean, livid blues to metallic greens and deep reds, his palette of contrasting tints softly fades into pastel-like, muffled nuances. Historical references, everyday objects and collective symbols dot the compositions, their non-hierarchical display touching on the disorienting coexistence of universal scope and individual dimension in the iffy present.