Though he does not consider himself a curator—“I would rather not use that word because I don’t have the background”—he in many ways embodies the meaning in its purest form. Defined as a keeper or custodian of a collection, the word “curator” comes from the Latin word curare, which means “to take care”. Through the scores of residencies at Numeroventi, Martino is a steward of many. This fall, he has partnered with Cadogan Contemporary and its director, Freddie Burness, to exhibit two Italian-based artists in London.
Raised in Florence, Lorenzo Brinati has spent a lifetime studying the historic practices of the Renaissance from traditional carvers, carpenters, and fresco painters that operated out of the Oltrarno quarter, south of the River Arno, for centuries. His technique involves a blend of methods that have been gleaned from his work over two decades as a conservator and restorer in traditional artisanal workshops. He draws many inspirations from his journeys as a sailor through Greece and Turkey with richly pigmented pieces. “I’ve been working with Lorenzo for many years now,” Martino explains. “When you are in front of his larger-scale paintings, it feels like a calming wave of silent sound comes over you.” ‘Under a Dome’ presents a body of work from Brinati which began with a residency this past winter at Numeroventi and finished with pieces created specifically for this exhibition.
For Leonardo Anker Vandal, art is a form of personal catharsis. His poetic visual language is a transformation of his experience of childhood psychological trauma; translating the relationship between light and dark, stillness and fluctuating movements. Two existing series were carefully chosen by Martino for ‘Under a Dome’. Working with the delicate complexity of tea as a medium, Vandal’s ‘Adagio’ series is an ode to the soul expressed without restraint. It finds inspiration in the music of Gustav Mahler, Jean Sibelius, and Sergei Rachmaninov. His ‘Breathing’ sequence is a visual representation of techniques used to control his anxiety, creating a physical depiction of the ephemerality of breath. “I saw photos of Leonardo’s work five or six years ago but it didn’t immediately connect until I met him in person,” Martino says. “To see him completely exhaust himself and give his soul and energy to the canvas is powerful.”
When organising a show, particularly a nexus of artists and works, there are always questions: will they get along, will their work function together, will the concept be tight enough? And though Brinati and Vandal’s pieces are distinct, there is a solid foundation laid beneath ‘Under a Dome’. “Both artists are trying to reach a natural state of calmness, I think,” says Martino. “They both somehow achieve a sense of healing or curing—an escape from something indescribable, reaching a place where you feel completely present.” In the world of exhibiting, a curator’s role is to help give an artist’s voice a platform for the public to hear. “The experience is always different depending on the artists and it can change based on what kind of affinity there is from me and them,” Martino explains. “But ultimately for me, the process is to be an observer and just to understand them better.”
‘Under a Dome’ is a first for both artists with Cadogan Contemporary and will be open to the public from the 1st to the 18th of September.