"It is no surprise that Montella is also a psychiatrist in addition to
Vincenzo Montella at Broadway Gallery
Vincenzo Montella is an Italian artist whose work is on view in an exhibition entitled Fly at Broadway Gallery through February 29.
Neapolitan photographer and digital artist, Vincenzo Montella’s opening on Friday was an overwhelming success. Many people visited the gallery to marvel at this innovative artist’s Pop images. Created through a process of photography later manipulated through digital processes, Montella employs the medium of photography not only as a way to discover his hometown of Naples, but also as a way to instill a sense of fantasy into it. The series on view in Fly depicts the Commedia dell’Arte figure, Pulcinella, a classic character from the 17th century theatrical form. This clown-like figure, also a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry, is recognizable by his white clown suit, coned-shaped hat, and black mask. Representing life and death, the character also symbolizes craftiness and deceit.
Here Montella superimposes the figure, almost flying out towards the viewer, over backdrops that alternate from the surreal—such as the gargantuan Swans in Swans, 2005—to the real—such as the cityscapes of modern day Naples in works such as Pulcinella in the City, 2005. He captures these images in the many promenades he takes around the city.
Of particular appeal is Pulcinella and Time, 2004. A field of blue sky dotted with luxuriant cumulous clouds is contrasted with a superimposed Pulcinella figure, arms thrown up in the air as if he is about to jump out at the viewer. The face of a clock hovers nearby. Below the figure are a series of colored zigzag bands upon which small silhouette figures balance, their arms mimicking Pulcinella’s gesture. Two black crows flying in the air complete the image. Rich in symbolic significance, this image channels a Surrealist vocabulary in the execution of a Pop aesthetic that speaks to the fear of mortality common to all people.
Similarly, Race, 2005, exploits some very savvy compositional devices to render an image that is quite dynamic and powerful. Here we see a typical Neapolitan apartment building bordered by a large billboard. The billboard displays an advertisement depicting a nude flying figure reminiscent of the Roman deity Mercury. Almost in competition with this messenger god, is Pulcinella whose pose imitates Mercury’s. Here we witness Montella’s adroit sense of humor, one however that is not without its dark side. For just as Mercury led newly deceased souls to the afterlife, Pulcinella is also a symbol of death.
It is no surprise that Montella is also a psychiatrist in addition to being an artist. His keen awareness of Jungian archetypes and symbols is evident. The artist effectively and poetically blends a multitude of stimuli from the modern Italian urban experience to render images that are both eloquent and touching. Seeing the city as a theater upon which its people move, Montella’s goal is to observe and document his countrymen and their domain, while infusing them with his own fantastical imagination and unique visions of humanity and the existential nature of the transience of existence.