• Text by Douglas Fogle & Hanneke Skerath

     

     

     

     

    Lines connect us to the world. They establish a horizon that grounds us to the earth when we look at the sea. They define the architectural spaces in which we live. They connect our historical past to our present and point hopefully towards our collective future. For her first exhibition at Thomas Dane Gallery in Naples, the Milan-based artist Luisa Lambri has chosen to focus her camera on how lines create both lived and abstract space in a new body of photographic work. The works consider two particular historical moments in and around Naples: the frescos inside the architectural structures of the nearby first century A.D. ruins of Pompeii, and the legendary Italian designer Gio Ponti’s built elements for the interiors of the Royal Continental Hotel in Naples and the Parco dei Principi in Sorrento. Produced specifically for the elegant 19th century rooms of Thomas Dane Gallery, these works will be shown alongside Lambri’s new photographic investigations of the line in the work of the Polish conceptual artist Edward Krasinski (1925-2004), and the California Light and Space artist Doug Wheeler.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Exhibition Map
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    Having spent the past decades training her camera on idiosyncratic elements of significant modern and contemporary architecture, Lambri has taken the specific historical context of Naples to heart and ventured into its storied antiquity with a number of new works that examine how the classical frescos of Pompeii create abstract spaces through the geometry of their decorative framing lines. Working on site this past year in the preserved ruins of the ancient city, Lambri turned her attention to the interior walls of the Casa degli Amanti, Stanza di Leda e l’Atrio di Narciso, and the Casa di Giulia Felice. While their interior frescos are decidedly figurative, the artist paradoxically became fascinated with the ways that the Pompeiian artisans used linear design elements to define and enhance the portraits of patrons and allegorical myths that adorn these walls. As the artist has pointed out “sometimes all that is left of the paintings in these ruins are the framing lines themselves which in my mind are simple and beautiful in their own right.” The resulting photographs take the artisans’ decorative lines – at times adorned with flowers or vine-like leaves – and transforms them into ghostly reminders of the past lives lived within these walls. In Lambri’s hands these lines become an abstract geometry of ruins.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Lambri springs forward hundreds of years in a complementary body of newly completed work that looks at Gio Ponti’s designs for hotels in Naples and Sorrento. In one series of work, Lambri focuses on the briarwood of Ponti’s built-in closets that he completed for the Royal Continental Hotel in Naples in 1953. Isolating the vertical seam between the closet doors in the centre of her image, the artist plays with the contrast between modernity’s obsession with austere clean lines and the lush Baroque pattern created naturally by the wood grain to create ebullient amber abstractions. A similar tension between organic material and the functional lines of modernism is at play in Lambri’s photograph of a Gio Ponti-designed glass block porthole-style window in the Parco dei Principi Hotel in Sorrento, built in 1961. Set into the wall on its point, this solid block of glass acts as a watery lens framing the succulent vegetation of the hotel’s gardens. In Lambri’s image the window floats mysteriously in a black field and plays with the spatial relationship between inside and outside, offering us a portal into another world.

     

     

     

     

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    Lambri completes this exhibition with photographs that explore the use of light, lines and horizontality in the art works and environmental installations of Light and Space artist Doug Wheeler and the Polish conceptual artist Edward Krasinski. Lambri photographs Krasinski’s signature blue lines – long horizontal Scotch tape lines that the artist installed on walls between and on top of his other works at a height of 130cm – creating a new abstract horizon-line that bisects her photographic prints and makes a strangely emotional connection to how Krasinski’s lines condensed the distance between art, environment and viewer. Under the gaze of Lambri’s lens, these abstract blue lines poetically invoke the optical division between earth and sky, or the separation between land and sea. Lambri also amplifies the connective human qualities of Krasinski’s tape that was said to be consistently applied to the wall at the average height of the human heart. Lambri creates a kind of mirror inversion of this blue horizon line in her photographs of an immersive Light and Space installation by Doug Wheeler. In the resulting photographs, a horizontal line of white light traverses the misty blue glow of Wheeler’s optical haze to suggest an unearthly azure seascape similar to that of the nearby Mediterranean visible from the veranda of Thomas Dane Gallery.

     

     

     

     

     

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    Whether looking at the historical architecture of Pompeii, the design objects of Ponti, the linear conceptual interventions of Krasinski or the environmental optics of Doug Wheeler, the common denominator for Luisa Lambri’s photographs is how the abstract geometric lines of the built world conceptualize space as a site of contemplation and presence. In these bodies of work the past, present and future collide in a poetic dance of lines that connect us as human beings while defining the lived space of our shared world.

     

     

     

     

  • Luisa Lambri was born in Como, Italy in 1969 and currently lives in Milan, IT. Lambri's ephemeral photographs stand in...

                                              Photograph: Maria Continella

    Luisa Lambri was born in Como, Italy in 1969 and currently lives in Milan, IT. Lambri's ephemeral photographs stand in clear contrast to the established practice of architectural photography which has traditionally captured the exteriors of buildings. Lambri travels the world photographing architectural interiors, often spending extended periods of time experiencing the buildings before she begins shooting. Her images reflect spatial experience, not only capturing the physical topology of these structures, but elaborating on the profound psychological and emotional responses they elicit from their inhabitants. She primarily photographs private houses, focusing on the view from the inside to the outside, thereby establishing a physical and conceptual position for herself and the viewer. These delicately crafted images oscillate between objective representations of space and Lambri's own perceptions and reactions.

     

    Lambri utilizes traditional as well as new digital printing techniques to move her photographs beyond pure documentation. Lambri's selective framing and editing of the images pays homage to the Modernist aesthetic, establishing an atmosphere that surpasses the immediate function of the structures. The work realises its full meaning when it is installed in a new space, establishing a new relationship between the viewer, the object and the space.

  • Lambri’s work has been included in two Venice Biennales: dAPERTutto, the 48th International Art Exposition in 1999, for which the Italian Pavilion was awarded the Golden Lion, and Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer, the 50th International Art Exposition in 2003. Her one-person exhibitions have been presented internationally at venues including PAC Milano, Italy; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA; the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; The Menil Collection, Houston, TX; the Palazzo Re Rebaudengo, Guarene d'Alba, Italy and the Hammer Museum of Art in Los Angeles. Forum 57: Luisa Lambri and Ernesto Neto was presented at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh 2006. Lambri's work has been included in thematic exhibitions including Quadriennale d'Arte in Rome; Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery, London; Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution, 1968-2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; 31 Panorama of Brazilian Art, Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Painting the Glass House: Artists Revisit Modern Architecture, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and the Yale School of Architecture, New Haven; The Shapes of Space, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Grand Promenade, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece; Vanishing Point, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Living Inside the Grid, New Museum, New York; and Yesterday Begins Tomorrow: Ideals, Dreams and the Contemporary Awakening, Center for Curatorial Studies Museum, Bard College, New York.

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