SPACE March 2023 (No. 664)
Installation view of Untitled (2001) / ©Kim Kyoungtae
Maurizio Cattelan’s solo exhibition ‘WE’ opened at Leeum Museum of Art on Jan. 31. Cattelan, who grew up in a working-class family in Italy and entered the art world without a formal art education, has long challenged stereotypes in the art world with his satirical language targeted at both inside and outside the academy. The exhibition features 38 works, including sculptures and installations, which span the last 30 years, from his early autobiographical works in the 1990s to his controversial banana, Comedian (2019), which caused a stir in the international art media. The exhibition begins unexpectedly, with an installation consisting of a homeless man in the middle of the lobby, a flock of pigeons, and a billboard reminiscent of a subway platform. As you enter the exhibition, surrounded by a sense of calm, you are again startled by Novecento (1997), a stuffed horse hanging from the ceiling with a drooping head, Him (2001), a work depicting a kneeling Hitler, and All (2007), a long line of corpses evoking a scene of massacre. On the other hand, the whimsy of Untitled (2001), a man poking his head through the floor, and Charlie (2003), who rides a tricycle across the exhibition, makes us look back on how suppressed we are by conventional wisdom. Cattelan’s intuitive hyper-realistic sculptures and paintings raise sensitive social issues and provoke intense contemplation, while revealing his identity as an outsider who belongs neither to the established art world nor to the mainstream. ‘the elephant in the room’ (Not Afraid of Love, 2000) means an issue that people avoid mentioning. Cattelan unapologetically invites the elephant into the room, addressing issues such as life and death, authority and oppression, and me and my family or the question, who ‘we’ are. The exhibition will be open until July 16.