BERNARDO SICILIANO – Panic Attack

M77 Gallery presents Panic Attack, a solo show by Bernardo Siciliano (born in Rome, 1969): a hitherto unseen cycle of large-format canvases, made specially for this exhibition that represents an accomplished objective for the artist, and at the same time provides a clear and articulate portrait of his work. Siciliano is an Italian artist who has been living and working in New York since the 1990s. The panic attack in the exhibition’s title refers to something that changed the artist’s life: the day when he discovered that painting is a ritual capable of alleviating anxiety, slowing heartrate and returning one’s rate of breathing to normal. A “separate” dimension in which you become immersed and invariably discover peace. But panic attack is also a metaphorical device used by the artist to appropriate a space in the city, and in Siciliano’s case New York, deliberately excluding any human presence in order to create an empty, metaphysical scene that anyone, while observing it, can populate with their own presences, visions or ghosts. Using a non-sentimental pictorial technique with almost scientific discipline, never indulging in muscular virtuosity, Siciliano – by means of unusual viewpoints and perspectives, and very low horizon lines – isolates and enlarges apparently “normal” fragments of the city structure, transforming them into blow-ups of powerful, silent states of mind. Concentrating on his cityscapes, the only sound that you are able to hear is the continuous, rhythmic, methodical sound produced by the brush on the canvas. Siciliano has transferred this universal theme – which can be traced through history, from Giotto to Piero della Francesca, on to Giorgio De Chirico’s metaphysical solitude, Sironi’s heroic melancholy, merging into Hopper’s atmospheres of depression – into a contemporary context, in which the technique of painting, at last brought to a dimension of peace within itself and with the world, is given a new conceptual dimension. This exhibition therefore represents a valuable opportunity for rekindling discussions on painting, in which there is no longer any need for feelings of guilt, inferiority complex, or even worse, sterile debates on value that have long since become obsolete. A panic attack can only be followed by absolute calm.