Following the success of previous exhibitions at The Flat, Michael Bevilacqua returns to Massimo Carasi’s gallery with his Catastrophe Ballet - a dedicated work that includes a novel collaboration with Californian artist, Dean Sameshima. The title chosen by the artist for this Milan show is the same title attributed to the masterpiece dating to 1984, by the Californian goth-rock band Christian Death. Inspired by the mood of anxiety and gloom evoked by the tracks of this album, these new pieces – still permeated by the artist’s characteristic hyper-pop energy – are laced with undertones of melancholy, that in places seem almost threatening.
The contemporary cultural imaginary is controlled and consciously manipulated, both as a repertory and as a stylistic palette: silkscreens that evoke elements of punk culture, insertions of gloss spray paint, quotations (X-Men, Yr Mangled Heart -- a single by Gossip, the Ministry covering Pink Floyd in Dark Side of the Spoon, etc.) and text fragments all compose a stratigraphy of familiar visual culture, that is, at the same time alienating. The walls of the gallery host large paintings – some on an almost monumental scale – that merge and fuse the substance of the dreams (and nightmares) of the Western world at the dawn of the 21st century. A glorious, joyful apocalypse.
The contrast between concepts, symbols and levels of interpretation is, after all, Bevilacqua’s main objective: the marked contradiction between an apparently reassuring linearity and the most ambiguous, indecipherable aspects of human nature. Indeed, the title itself - Catastrophe Ballet - is an intentional paradox in the sense of two opposites which are irresistibly attracted to one another. Therefore, it is a complex and articulate exhibition, that develops a confrontation of spaces, visions and attitudes in the two environments of the gallery. Indeed, the basement space presents a special project titled In Passing, which was created especially for this occasion in collaboration (“featuring”: is again, as always, a reference to the world of pop music) with Dean Sameshima.
The underground environment created for this part of the show contrasts starkly with the airy, light-filled exhibition in the space above. It represents a radical, disturbing investigation of the “dark side”, characterised by an articulated sense of the elements connected to exhibitionism and theatricalism. Sameshima’s safety pins, silkscreened onto a black ground, the true icons of punk, cover and connote a habitat that is imprinted by gay culture and nostalgia, both characterized by a fascination for the forbidden (a recurring figure here is the outlaw, indistinguishable from the defenders of law and order). Positioned on the floor, which is covered by an intervention of the two artists, a few three-dimensional works by Michael Bevilacqua evoke a sense of a fetishist, sci-fi imanginary . The whole project is a sort of hymn to the DIY philosophy, that unites the two artists, as well as a large part of the most interesting and innovative cultural production of recent decades.
The merging of the exhibition and the special project, conceived as two reflections of the same attitude, conveys the idea of an art divided between euphoria and hardcore, between the familiar and the perturbing, between the past and the future.