Nicola Samorì. Ph. © Michela Ravaglia

Nicola Samorì presents “Sfregi” at Palazzo Fava, Bologna: an interview with the artist

For the occasion of his solo exhibition at Palazzo Fava, Bologna we interviewed artist Nicola Samorì to learn more about his art and practice.

by Mara Sartore
May 10, 2021
Mara Sartore
Nicola Samorì

In the critical texts that talk about your work, terms such as “sacrifice”, “flogging”, “upheaval”, “flaying”, “transgression”, “murder of painting” and obviously “disfigurement” prevail, a term also used for the title of this exhibition. Where does it all come from and what is the power of these violent acts?

The wound is the code that runs through all my work, even if the emphasis of many terms used to describe it is something that does not belong to me, but that I understand, because our eye reads blood even in rust.
In fact, I try to stage the painless crime that can take place in the representation, wonderfully expressed by Ceronetti when he writes: “by means of collage one has the pleasure of tearing human beings, individuals and crowds to pieces, without spilling a drop of blood. It is the best substitute for crime ”. Substitutes for violence, therefore, which inflict on the body of art that I would never want to see on the skin of a living being. A form of exorcism.

Exhibition view, Nicola Samorì "Sfregi", Palazzo Fava, Bologna, 2021 © Paolo Righi

The thaumaturgical power of violence also seems to want to have an apotropaic function, what is the function of a work of art for you today and how is it configured when we are experiencing the role of the artist?

The work of art continues to explore spaces where other disciplines are unable to impose themselves, through the different repetition of forms that touch death, wonder, obsession, the sublimation of matter. A boundless memory that must be kept in training.
I don’t believe in a responsibility of art; I trust, if anything, in an irresponsibility of art, understood as a force that does not necessarily illustrate politics and hot topics, that is not always on the side of the “good guys”.
Art teaches us to recognise aspects of life that do not respect a progress similar to that which we attribute to science: in art things do not evolve, but they transform and, often, the best we have already left behind. It is a lesson in civilization that respects the times, contradictions and impulses of our living in a body that grows, then ages and dies.

Exhibition view, Nicola Samorì "Sfregi", Palazzo Fava, Bologna, 2021 © Paolo Righi

You’ve established a dual relationship with tradition: evocation and denial, can you tell us a little about your artistic journey so far and how your works come about?

At the age of three, I drew a dinosaur that never existed until my mother bought me a replica in a shop. The hand followed without delay and with little naivety. I then fell in love with the Egyptians and, year after year, I gradually climbed the slope of the history of art until I discovered contemporaneity around the age of twenty. So I tried to become part of it.
Painting and sculpture do not give me a way out. I started working on it because it was easy for me, then everything became enormously complicated and now I can’t pull myself out anymore. My works start with rigorous planning, then things fall apart and only good intuition can save that what was lost. Meanwhile, I breed and torture images, accompanying them from the finite to the exhausted.

Exhibition view, Nicola Samorì "Sfregi", Palazzo Fava, Bologna, 2021 © Paolo Righi
Exhibition view, Nicola Samorì "Sfregi", Palazzo Fava, Bologna, 2021 © Paolo Righi

What was it like mounting an exhibition in relation to the Renaissance spaces of Palazzo Fava?

I attempted to stare straight ahead, but then I raised my head and dizziness took over, pursued by hundreds of metres of frescoed friezes painted by the best painters of the Bolognese school of the late sixteenth century. I understood that I could not put on frontal exhibition and that I would have to force my gaze to oscillate from top to bottom, as suggested by the apparitions I collected in the most sumptuous room on the Noble Floor, that of Jason, painted by the three Carraccis. In this room seven saints painted by me look up while Antonio Canova’s Magdalene casts her eyes towards the ground.

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