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Museum of Childhood
by Beijing Art Now Gallery (BANG)
Location: Beijing Art Now Gallery (BANG)
Artist(s): Adria SARTORE
Date: 29 Mar - 9 May 2015

Attracted by their ungraspable, mysterious, always changing psychic world that is not dissimilar to a dream, Adria draws her inspiration from children, especially girls. Using her paintbrush as a microscope, Adria captures and blows up the traits that belong particularly to children. She renders them as exquisite as the butterfly specimens displayed in natural history museums, in order for those indifferent or ignorant adults to look at and think about. 

This exhibition intends to set up a museum for the purpose of childhood research that would engage Adria’s young models as the samples. In the process of creation, the artist situates the girls within different pre-constructed scenes and left them play, speak, and act freely. For Adria, the world of children is intimately related to “heterotopia” that Michel Foucault theorised. Amusement park, convent, cemetery, natural history museum, and secret garden hidden behind the castle—these heterotopic spaces bear the disrupted, accumulated, crystallised, or fleeting time. It is precisely these places that form the childhood memory of Adria who incorporates the heterotopic elements into her paintings, blending them with the little girls that she represents. Thus it could be said that the girls in Adria’s paintings carry more or less some characteristics of the artist herself; perhaps the artist has unconsciously projected herself onto them.

Recently Adria has been experimenting with monochrome. Since the series of white paintings that she made for the Hong Kong Art Basel last year, she paints exclusively in brown palette another four paintings for this show. In a similar way that the yellow tint of vintage photographs signifies obsolescence, Adria through her skilful handling of brown palette connects the young models with her childhood deeply embedded in her memory of a long-gone past. The sense of nostalgia emanated from the brownish tone even objectifies the figures, transforming them into artefacts in the Museum of Childhood.

Adria’s obsession with face almost verges on the extreme. The Orlando Series show the process of an androgynous child changing his/her face from serenity and gentleness to hysteria and madness. This subtle depiction of change in expression embodies the artist’s aesthetic view: that beauty is not absolute; as the face changes, beauty can easily change into ugliness. Ugliness belongs to another aesthetic category. If it is united with qualities that would excite a strong terror, as Edmund Burke suggested, it could be seen as a kind of the sublime—a higher, darker, and more appealing kind of beauty.

This exhibition showcases works of diverse mediums and forms. Besides paintings, Adria will exhibit her video, photographs, prints, dolls, collages, and drawings for the first time.

About the artist 

Adria  Sartore 

From 1990 to 1997, Adria Sartore received her degrees from Academy of Fine Art of Brera, University of Genoa, and University of Paris La Sorbonne IV in Philosophy respectively. She is now based in Genoa. Sartore was awarded the BP Portrait Prize from the National Portrait Gallery in London and has participated in the group show in 2004. She had her solo shows at La Bertesca Gallery, the Fine Art Gallery in Moscow, and the Beijing Art Now Gallery between 2005 and 2006. In 2013 she had another solo show at the Museum Gugging in Vienna and participated in the Hong Kong Art Basel in the following year.

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