Exhibition Dates: May 9 - 31 2020
Samara Contemporary is excited to present Gigante, a new body of work from acclaimed Canadian artist, Nicholas Di Genova. Featuring paintings and drawings made in the last three years, Gigante brings us timely images of intimacy and environmentalism. Di Genova’s use of plant and mythological imagery produce chimeric figures engaging in earthly pursuits. Embodying our longing to reconnect with nature, Di Genova’s work provides a contemplative moment to think about what it means to be close to one another.
Nicholas Di Genova is an instructor at OCAD University and has been featured in reviews in Artforum, Canadian Art Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and The National Post. Di Genova has been represented by international galleries and his works can be found in both private and institutional collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and international institutions in New York, Singapore, London and Berlin.
Drawing on ideas of environmentalism and sustainability, Di Genova explores the motif of the Green Man, “coined in 1939 by Lady Julia Raglan, it is a representation of a humanoid face made up of various foliage and vegetation.” While the motif has fallen out of use, Di Genova suggests that “now, in a time of rising temperatures and ever worsening tropical storms, it is time for a return of the Green Man to remind us as a species of our reliance on and union with nature, a reminder of how closely the fate of our planet and our own fates are linked.” As environmental concerns and considerations have taken more precedent in our lives, Gigante presents images of an evolving consciousness of plants and humans working together.
In his oil paintings, Di Genova’s the Gigante bare their teeth in a grotesque blend of human and non-human features to present a hybrid creation of human and nature. Reminiscent of the vanitas painting tradition, the juxtaposition between the lush foliage and the human teeth invite us to consider humanity’s connection to the environment and the transience of life. Di Genova describes ‘Gigante’ as “simultaneously landscape and figure, exploring the relationship between nature and humankind. As our presence makes more and more of a negative impact on the biodiversity of this planet, nature has been forced to adapt to our presence, as we have not done a proficient job adapting to the needs of the planet.”
Di Genova’s studies depict figures evocative of nature spirits engaging in earthly desires in quiet moments of sensuality and intimacy. These figures merge and emerge in their natural environments. He describes these pieces as “playful depictions of nature adopting human behaviours, in this case the confusing process of human copulation. Possibly this is an act of biomimicry, maybe it is an attempt to understand us better, the exact reason for this phenomenon is unknown.”
In his drawings, Di Genova’s meticulous documentation of plants on a grid in the style of botanical illustrations seem almost meditative in their intricacy. While in the studies nature attempts to understand humans better through mimicry, in these drawings attempt for us to understand nature better through contemplation.