Home Architect Joaquin Jesús Sánchez on Galli

Joaquin Jesús Sánchez on Galli

by godlove4241
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While preparing for the eleventh Berlin Biennale, 2020, one of its curators, Agustín Pérez Rubio, came across an artist’s book by Galli, which led to its inclusion in the exhibition. Born in 1944, Galli is a painter who rubbed shoulders with the Neue Wilde, or German neo-expressionists, and whose works have received little attention in recent decades. One of the results of his recent “rediscovery” is “Cross Section 1987–2009”, which brings together a body of small and medium format works, mostly executed in acrylic on cardboard. Their imagery is full of household objects (mainly cups) and deformed bodies in impossible positions. In Baum/Tasse, aka fürchtet euch nicht, (Tree/Cup, aka Do Not Fear), 1987/2004, a disembodied hand holds a saucer and cup under what looks like a hanging bunch of flesh-colored bananas – or maybe another hand? In the background, barely outlined on a dark plane, the silhouette of a tree emerges. In Landschaft mit Unkraut säendem Teufel! (Landscape to the devil sowing grass!), 1987/2004, the branches of a tree trunk draped in a mottled tablecloth seem to be transmuted into hands. A floating cup spills liquid on one of the upturned palms; another trunk holds a straight cup; and a third cup sits on a separate trunk, blue in color. The artist uses a thick, impasto brushstroke that alternates with a fragile, hesitant line to give his images a cracked appearance. This technique is evident, for example, in the collection of white crockery – barely sketched by a few strokes – in Untitled2009.

The anthropomorphic depictions of Galli’s work look somewhat sordid. Legless torsos have wildly gesticulating arms; the udders and legs ending in hooves protrude below the skirts, as in oT, (with Eutern), Fratta Kitchen (Untitled [with Udders], Fratta’s Kitchen), 1987/1998. Another work shows a naked man urinating from both his penis and his arms (Untitled, 1990). Elsewhere, a twisted figure wearing a look of horror holds a spoon upright at a dining table, on which rest a frying pan and a glass (Magentrost, 1991/1993/1996). In Galli’s drawings, we also find bizarre characters, but the nimble and somewhat angular lines in graphite and pastel pencil give them a lightness that is not found in paintings.

In the painting hocker (Stool), 1989/1998, two legs of a three-legged stool grow hands that support a haloed figurine. From the seat emerges a tired yellowish eye, while a mop of white seems to rise from the rest of the surface in thick, sinuous white strokes that veil a dark undercoat. Curiously, this enigmatic cyclopean adorer keeps his gaze lowered, as if in a mystical attitude he was still resisting his nature as a stool.

From Galli’s imagery, it might be easy to infer a problematic relationship to the body – not surprisingly, given the prejudices an artist with achondroplasia (a bone disorder leading to dwarfism) would have faced and who is openly queer. But such an observation should not be overestimated, on pain of subordinating technically remarkable and visually striking works to a condescending reductionism. Galli’s work is worth rediscovering because it is still artistically alive, not because of its biography.

Translated from Spanish by Michèle Faguet.

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