From 28 May to 25 June 2023, Fondazione Stelline presents Plastiche Apparenze. From Plumcake to Gianni Cella, an exhibition that proposes Gianni Cella’s journey from collective to individual experience. The exhibition, curated by Alberto Fiz, offers over 20 works including paintings, sculptures and installations created between 1983 and 2023. “Plastic appearances allows to re-read in a completely original way the work of an artist who developed his poetics first in a group then individually, always affirming his own otherness. His images, deviant and elusive, absorb the author’s discomfort which often coincides with that of the observer”, says Alberto Fiz.
The review, hosted in the spaces of the Fondazione Stelline in the gallery II on the underground floor, represents an opportunity to celebrate the 40 years of activity of Gianni Cella, one of the founders, together with Romolo Pallotta and Claudio Ragni, of the historic collective Plumcake which began its exhibition activity in 1983 with works made in fiberglass that are inspired by the world of comics and mass communication, reinterpreting pop styles in a playful key. The name chosen was deliberately provocative and was inspired by a popular food with a soft and sugary shape. A paradoxical choice that of the Plumcakes who have been able to synthesize cultured and popular art, design and craftsmanship. The group made its debut in 1983 with an exhibition at the Galleria Diagramma in Milan, the space managed by Luciano Inga-Pin.
Since 1984, together with Abate, Bonfiglio, Innocente, Lodola, Palmieri, Postal, they create the group of Nuovo Futurismo (New Futurism), theorized by Renato Barilli. In 1990 they took part in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva. Plastiche Apparenze is introduced by a series of historic works from the Plumcake period including Razzo (Rocket) from 1983 which synthesizes abstraction and figuration giving life to a mysterious shape with a stylized character who seems to be sleeping on a cloud. Of particular interest is La motagna delle lucertole (The lizards mountain) from 1985, a sort of sacred place inhabited by small reptiles that spread in the environment with references to primitive cultures and archeology. In the same context, Natura maligna (Malicious nature) from 1988 also appears, a rather ambiguous heart, one of the most recognizable stylistic features of Plumcake and Apparizioni modeste (Modest appearances) (1994) which anticipates the symbols of social networks.
In 2000 Cella began an individual journey and, as he himself wrote in his diary Una vita lemme lemme: “I abandoned group work to feel more responsible for my creative world. I am a visionary, prolific, polymorphic and kaleidoscopic”. To tell all of this in a figurative key is Gioia e mistero (Joy and mystery) (2022), a polyptych that depicts the salient moments of his artistic life, from his diploma in painting at the Brera Academy up to the individual exhibitions of recent years. As clearly emerges at the Stelline, since 2000 Cella’s artistic career appears much more multifaceted and more complex than in the Plumcake period. The works, while maintaining a playful component, express discomfort and otherness.
The review also includes a spectacular installation by Cella in the garden of the Magnolia Cloister entitled Totem with four monumental plastic works of over two meters that symbolize the chameleon-like aspects of the contemporary taking their cue from an ancient ritual. The Fratelli Marx (Marx Brothers) also appear among the totems. The exhibition is organized and promoted by Fondazione Stelline with the patronage of Regione Lombardia and Comune di Milano and with the contibution of Gruppo Zenit.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog edited by Alberto Fiz published by Allemandi, with texts by the curator, Alessandra Klimciuk, Marianna Cappia and an interview by Barbara Cottavoz to Gianni Cella.
Gianni Cella (Pavia, 1953). Born and raised in Pavia, he graduated from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts with Professor Manfredi. He exhibited for the first time in 1982 together with Romolo Pallotta and Claudio Ragni, with whom he founded the Plumcake collective, housed in the Luciano Inga-Pin’s Il Diagramma gallery. Together with the Plumcakes, he took part in the XLIV Venice Biennale, the XV International Biennial of Bronze and Small Sculpture in Padua and in 1992 at the Fellbach Triennial. In January 2000 he separated from the other two Plumcakes to continue his artistic career alone, both as a representative of the New Futurists movement, thanks also to the critical contribution of Renato Barilli, and as an individual artist. In addition to having participated in personal and collective exhibitions in Italy and abroad, he has contributed to the panorama of Italian design thanks to collaborations with Alessandro Mendini, Swatch and Rosenthal.
PLASTICHE APPARENZE. FROM PLUMCAKE TO GIANNI CELLA
Curated by Alberto Fiz
28 May – 25 June 2023
Openings: Tuesday – Sunday, h. 10.00 am – 8.00 pm (Monday closed)
Fondazione Stelline, c.so Magenta 61, Milan