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Vice Versa

Harlem Studio
128 West 121 Street (between Lenox and Powell) , 646-542-9986
January 7 - January 14, 2009
Reception: Tuesday, January 6, 6:30 - 10:30 PM
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Please join us at HSF by MontrasioArte for the opening reception of Vice Versa, featuring works by artists-in-residence, Nicola Magrin and Issa Nyaphaga. Curated by Raffaele Bedarida, Vice Versa is organized in partnership with FreeDimensional and ArtBreak Gallery.

Vice Versa presents two specular approaches to art making. Nicola Magrin and Issa Nyaphaga are poles apart both formally and conceptually, yet they open up complementary possibilities of post-relational art practices.

Paris-based artist Issa Nyaphaga left his country, Cameroon, in 1996 as a refugee after being imprisoned and tortured for the publication of his political drawings, which targeted government officials. Engaged in counter-information and educational activities with schools, universities, cultural centers and social institutes mostly in France and in the US, Issa’s art practice ranges from painting to political drawing, from body art to performance and installation. At HSF, Issa presents a series of portraits of Barack Obama. Living in Harlem during the last months of the campaign and the presidential elections of November 2008, Issa witnessed these historical events from the outsider perspective of an African exile and with the eye of the political drawer. He has represented the iconic face of the President Elect on the backdrop of his words, white on black, showing the current in-between condition of intense expectations. A participatory performance, part of Issa’s ongoing project Urban Way, will take place during the opening reception, where the artist will dialogue with live music and the public through live painting, action, and body painting.

Italian artist Nicola Magrin exhibits large and medium size calligraphic works on paper where his daily experiences, encounters, and observations during his three-month stay in New York are translated into poetic, rarefied images. Magrin’s wonder before the range of banal and exceptional scenes or events encountered as a foreigner is initially an intimate fact, but it is then progressively turned, in his folios, into more universal images, which are, themselves, instruments of wonder. “Suddenly – he writes—the fear of a sheet of a piece of paper, good paper, clean, white ready to host some images, fruit of my excursions. And then to prepare the color – in this case instinctively mixing an ‘earth color’ with a black, dense and fragile as coal – finally, a lot of water… water from Harlem.” The artist’s presence is substantial: figures made out of single, uninterrupted brushstrokes that skillfully give shape to abundantly diluted ink, are the physical link between the visitor and the artist’s intimacy. Sometimes, if an affinity is established, Magrin works in presence of and for intimate audiences bringing the gesture back to its performative, yet non-heroic dimension.
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