Curated by Giuseppe Ottavianelli
Critical essay by Benedetta Marcelli
Following their residency at the French Academy Villa Medici during 2015-2016, Wunderkammern Rome presented the exhibition by the French duo Lek & Sowat, aka Frédéric Malek (1971) and Mathieu Kendrick (1978). The artists have been working together since 2010. Their research is tied to “Urbex” or “Exploration Urbaine”, a discipline through which they explore the city looking for modern ruins, basements and abandoned spaces. After their project Mausolée (2012), an artist-in-residency program realized in an abandoned shopping mall in Paris, they were invited at Palais de Tokyo, where they invaded museum spaces which are usually closed to the public. Lek & Sowat go beyond the limits of traditional graffiti, as their in situ experimentations include video, architectonical abstractions, installation and archaeology.
“Eterno”, first solo show by Lek & Sowat at Wunderkammern, described the bond between the artists and Rome. For them, the Eternal City is an inexhaustible source, a material full of stimuli, which is used to investigate and re-interpret the multiple layers of the cultural and art-historic substratum of the Eternal City. Resulting artworks are both wall-works and installations: canvasses, as modern paintings, are frames with irregular geometric shapes and they include the re-elaborated memory of walls. Their industrial sculptures are recovered, welded metallic structures, symbol of a renewed destruction which is reintegrated in the city. The art of Lek & Sowat arises from the street, goes through abandoned places in the city, discovers hidden spaces and observes traces of history. Fragments recompose in a synthesis made of signs giving a new face to the urban present, in a continuous dialogue with the past. An artistic evolution, a floating transformation which connects tradition and innovation. The two artists transform the wall into canvas and the word into matter to reclaim the interior and exterior spaces of the city. The exhibition was part of the program of “La Francia in scena”, artistic season of the Institut français Italia. For “Eterno”, Lek & Sowat will realize a site specific intervention on the occasion of “I Giovedì della Villa” at Villa Medici.
Municipio Roma V