THE THIRD ROME
Allegorical Landscapes of the Modern City
November 7 - December 15, 2018
Opening Reception, Wednesday, November 7th, 6-9pm
Hours: Monday - Friday, 10am - 5:30pm
Also Open Saturday December 1st, 8th and 15th from 11 - 5pm
*As featured in The New Criterion’s Critic’s Notebook!
Paintings of modern Rome by New York artist Pamela Talese will be featured in an exhibition opening November 7th at Robert Simon Fine Art at 22 East 80th Street. The group of small-scale oils reflects the painter’s multi-year exploration of late nineteenth century and twentieth- century sites and neighborhoods of the city overlooked by tourists but vibrant with the energy of contemporary life and redolent of their fraught twentieth-century past.
THE THIRD ROME takes its title from Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini’s celebrated dictum that “After the Rome of the emperors, after the Rome of the Popes, there will come the Rome of the people.” This became a cultural mantra for Mussolini during his regime (1922-1943) – and one that was manifested by the massive transformation of the architectural and civic landscape of the city. Many of the buildings and monuments of the Fascist era remain, accompanied by the long shadow of pseudo-populism.
This is the first solo exhibition by a contemporary artist at Robert Simon Fine Art, which specializes in Old Master paintings. Robert Simon comments, “This is not the Rome of Panini or Piranesi, but one unvarnished, so to speak, and one which reveals the tragedy as well as the triumph of the city’s history. The contrasts of the brutal elegance of the modern structures, both appealing and unnerving, with the older architecture creates a dialogue that raises issues that resonate today: the transience of political power, the tragedy of demagogic populism, and the vitality of the individual.”
Many of the paintings were completed on site during Talese’s annual visits to Rome, which began in 2012. Nearly half were done around the Foro Italico (formerly Foro Mussolini) in Rome’s northern section. Built between 1928 and 1938, the Foro Italico was a sports complex intended for the Olympic Games --as well as a school where young boys trained in aggressive combat sports which, Mussolini believed, would develop the qualities of good soldiers. Throughout the park, the giant figures of Carrara marble stand naked and posed – each holding the implement of his sport. Talese’s re-imagined interpretation of their classical style portrays both the visible and invisible, past and present, experience and evidence, of these ordinary people, civic leaders, tyrants, and of course, defeated heroes.
“Benito Mussolini was the Robert Moses of Rome, both ‘master builders’ with megalomaniacal views of what their city should look like regardless of the people who lived in it,” notes Pamela Talese. “Mussolini’s Third Rome was one of constant and remorseless demolitions in the city center which outpaced the building of new neighborhoods on the periphery. By the early 1930’s, this propaganda-driven planning left at least 25,000 Romans homeless.”
The themes of Talese’s previous exhibitions “718,” focusing on sites in New York’s outer boroughs, through “Rust Never Sleeps,” an essay on industrial decay, find new life in this ancient city.
For more images from the exhibition, including installation views, please click through to our contemporary page:
Image: Marble Athlete With Club from the Province of Lecce. Oil on panel, 9 3/4 x 9 3/4 in