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Fabio Mauri: Mundanities of War and Power

Hauser & Wirth gallery presents Italian artist Fabio Mauri’s solo exhibition in London for the first time in 20 years. Until 6 February 2016.

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Text by Heini Lehtinen

With an artistic practice spanning over performance, film, installation, found-object sculpture, mixed media works and theoretical writings, Italian artist Fabio Mauri questions readings of history and the associated power of language and ideology. Exhibition ‘Oscuramento – The Wars of Fabio Mauri’ at Hauser & Wirth gallery in London follows the artist’s presentations of work at the Venice Biennale and Istanbul Biennial in 2015. In the presented works, Mauri sheds light to the political dimensions of image.

Born in Rome in 1926, Fabio Mauri grew up in the Fascist Italy. Coming from a family that founded one of the most prestigious publishing houses in the country, Mauri befriended Italian cultural and artistic intellectuals since his childhood. During the years of Europe in war, he was profoundly affected by the events he witnessed first-hand and through the media, and suffered severe psychiatric consequences.

The context of war and its representations became a life-long field of work for Mauri. In his work, he investigates the deeply disturbing events on a level of resolving his own personal trauma. Even more significantly, he fathoms the manifestation of political power, the private experiences of soldiers and citizens, and how events of war were expressed in the media.

These themes are also present in ‘Oscuramento – The Wars of Fabio Mauri’ at Hauser & Wirth. Set inside a separate room within the main gallery, a life-size installation ‘Oscuramento – Il Gran Consiglio’, translated ‘Darkening – The Dark Council’, stages the last session of the Grand Council of Fascism, which took place in July 1943. With Mussolini surrounded by the highest leaders of the Fascist regime, the installation inspects and exposes the perpetrators of Fascism.

In the mixed-media works from the ‘Picnic o Il buon soldato’, translated as ‘Picnic or The Good Soldier’ series, Mauri incorporates found objects reminiscent of war and affixes them to impermeable sheets of iron, presented as a traditional painting on canvas. In ‘Linguaggio è Guerra’ – ‘Language of War’ – Mauri sets a selection of 88 photographs and montages that were published in German and English magazines covering the Second World War. With the work, the artist reveals the rhetoric of war in the media – a rhetoric that was, for the artist, insufficient to convey the reality of experience.

‘Oscuramento – The Wars of Fabio Mauri’ is organized together with art dealer Olivier Renaud-Clément. The exhibition coincides with exhibition ‘Maisons Fragiles,’ which also runs at Hauser & Wirth until 6 February 2016. •

Exhibition ‘Oscuramento – The Wars of Fabio Mauri’ at Hauser & Wirth London from 11 December 2015–6 February 2016.

Read also – TLmagazine 11 January 2016
Hauser & Wirth: Reflections on Vulnerability

Main image
Fabio Mauri: Il sergente (Picnic o Il buon soldato) [The Sergeant (Picnic or The Good Soldier)] (1998).
Iron, basketwork, leather, cotton, metal, soldier’s helmet, dried flowers, nuts, wood.
Size 100 x 70 x 52 cm.
Photo Sandro Mele.

All images
Copyright Estate Fabio Mauri / Courtesy Estate of Fabio Mauri and Hauser & Wirth

Installation view, ‘Oscuramento. The Wars of Fabio Mauri.’ Hauser & Wirth London, 2015. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Installation view, ‘Oscuramento. The Wars of Fabio Mauri.’ Hauser & Wirth London, 2015. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Fabio Mauri: La stufa (Picnic o Il buon soldato) [The Stove (Picnic or The Good Soldier)] (1998). Iron, stove. Size 100 x 70 x 40 cm. Photo Claudio Abate.
Fabio Mauri: La stufa (Picnic o Il buon soldato) [The Stove (Picnic or The Good Soldier)] (1998). Iron, stove. Size 100 x 70 x 40 cm. Photo Claudio Abate.
Installation view, ‘Oscuramento. The Wars of Fabio Mauri.’ Hauser & Wirth London, 2015. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Installation view, ‘Oscuramento. The Wars of Fabio Mauri.’ Hauser & Wirth London, 2015. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Fabio Mauri: Oscuramento – Il Gran Consiglio (Darkening – The Grand Council) (detail) (1975). Room installation; mixed media which includes wax figures, table, chairs, wallpaper, paintings, painted plaster busts, glass water pitchers, glasses, water, table lamp, lights, speaker, audio equipment. Dimensions variable. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Fabio Mauri: Oscuramento – Il Gran Consiglio (Darkening – The Grand Council) (detail) (1975). Room installation; mixed media which includes wax figures, table, chairs, wallpaper, paintings, painted plaster busts, glass water pitchers, glasses, water, table lamp, lights, speaker, audio equipment. Dimensions variable. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Installation view, ‘Oscuramento. The Wars of Fabio Mauri.’ Hauser & Wirth London, 2015. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Installation view, ‘Oscuramento. The Wars of Fabio Mauri.’ Hauser & Wirth London, 2015. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Fabio Mauri: Pasto nero (Picnic o Il buon soldato) [Black meal (Picnic or The Good Soldier)] (1998). Photo Claudio Abate.
Fabio Mauri: Pasto nero (Picnic o Il buon soldato) [Black meal (Picnic or The Good Soldier)] (1998). Photo Claudio Abate.
Installation view, ‘Oscuramento. The Wars of Fabio Mauri.’ Hauser & Wirth London, 2015. Photo Alex Delfanne.
Installation view, ‘Oscuramento. The Wars of Fabio Mauri.’ Hauser & Wirth London, 2015. Photo Alex Delfanne.
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