Vanni Cuoghi: The Eye of the Storm
Why We Recommend it
Italian artist Vanni Cuoghi’s (b. 1966) semi-autobiographical exhibition features a series of dioramas inspired by the devastation he witnessed in Hong Kong, when Typhoon Hato struck during a visit in 2017.
The Eye of the Storm is exhibition of recent work by Italian artist Vanni Cuoghi (b. 1966). The show focuses on his series titled Monolocali (2015–ongoing), in which dioramas featuring cut-out paper characters reconstruct settings on a reduced scale, therefore confining his characters to a specific time and space, similar to that of a theatre production.
The exhibition is constructed in two parts: the first gallery consists of images inspired by the news footage of metal gates bent and distorted by Typhoon Hato, which the artist saw on his hotel room television during his 2017 visit to Hong Kong. These images depict torn-up shutters and knocked-out gates, piles of rubble containing uprooted trees, torn metal sheets, chipped planks, shreds of paper, ripped fabrics and shattered furniture, providing glimpses into the city’s silent and deserted corners.
The second gallery portrays what Cuoghi imagined Hong Kong people to do and the places they happened to be the moment before the typhoon struck the city. The artist shares his visions of the indoor, cloistered spaces and sheltered areas such as apartments, offices, waiting rooms, bars, hallways, hotel rooms, prayer rooms and even art galleries. In these still, rarefied moments, his characters seem to realise that the atmosphere has changed, almost forewarning a sinister presence.
The exhibition’s title, The Eye of the Storm, refers to both Typhoon Hato, and to the format of Cuoghi’s art practice, which can be traced back to his time as a theatre set designer. The artist focuses the viewer’s gaze into each individual scene, whilst his own characters stare back at them with their eyes closed, in an apparent attempt to extend their influence beyond the frame and interact directly with the audience. Within each detailed diorama, one can easily imagine oneself as the omniscient narrator of the artist’s stories. Or perhaps, for Cuoghi’s paper characters, it is the viewer’s gaze that reflects the imminent storm.