May 28, 2017, 7:06 am
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Unmasking Mortality: Italian Artist Nunzio Paci launches solo exhibit

By KARA DE GUZMAN

IN a large forest in Norway where snow covers the land 200 days a year, an old tree has stood sentinel since the time when the British Isles were still connected to Europe. Named Old Tjikko, this Norway Spruce has lived for nearly 10,000 years.

The average human lifespan is .0079% of the age of Old Tjikko–if it were to blink, it could miss us. Still, the tree and its observer are closely interwoven in a cycle that is inconceivably old–a primordial vein that stretches unfathomably into the future. Italian artist-anatomist and Galerie Stephanie’s latest artist-in-residence Nunzio Paci possesses a breathtaking ability to reconnect these beings, reaching through the warp and weft of time to paint figures of regeneration that coalesce what has passed with what has yet to come.  

Born in 1977 in Bologna, located in the north of Italy, Nunzio was classically trained in the Fine Arts. But his preoccupation was not with the typically beautiful–rather, he seemed to obsess over the thought of becoming seriously ill. The anxiety about one’s health is called hypochondria, and is what drove Nunzio to study diseases, then generalized and pathological anatomy, and finally human, animal, and comparative anatomy. As a result, his art, which combines strict verisimilitude to anatomic structure with various flora and fauna, is a way for him to exorcise the fears he lives with daily. Using graphite, colored pencils, oil, and acrylic applied through a hybrid of painting and illustration, Nunzio faces his neurosis by looking barefaced at mortality and the transience of creation. The result is human figures–young and old, beautiful and macabre–with their internal structures exposed for all to see. The scene is not one of gore, rather it seems to restore humanity’s lost connection with nature; aortas evolve into thick tree trunks, ligaments become flower stalks, and veins creep outside the body, mimicking spindly branches upon which bluebirds perch. This is Nunzio’s quest for artistic and self-awareness, to confront existence and the never-ending feeling of uneasiness through achieving a balance between reality and imagination.

The maturity of his subject as well as the extreme care with which he produces his profoundly beautiful works has seen him exhibit around Europe, the United States, and Asia. His drawings, paintings, and sculptures have been shown all over Italy: at the Bologna Anatomical Wax Museum (2011, 2016) the historic Fogazzaro Palace (2011, 2012) and at the industrial complex turned exhibition space Fabricca Saccardo (2012) before he was signed onto the Milan contemporary art gallery Officine dell’ Immagine in 2013. Afterwards he exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sicily (2013), the Oxholm Gallery in Denmark (2014), at HERR BEINLICH in Germany (2015), and Art Stage Singapore (2016). Nunzio has also been featured in a number of publications, from Wide Walls and Hi-Fructose to Vice’s Creators series and most recently in Anatomy Rocks, a compilation of over 60 international artists that reinterpret anatomy in various spectacular fashions. He has been the recipient of six residencies in Sweden, China, and Norway; with this three-month residency under Galerie Stephanie in the Philippines being his latest.

Mimesis, Nunzio Paci’s first exhibition in the Philippines runs until April 18, 2017 at Galerie Stephanie, located at Unit 1B Parc Plaza Building, 183 E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., C5, Libis, Quezon City. 

(Kara de Guzman is a product of Ateneo’s Management program and is currently completing her Masteral studies in Art Studies at the University of the Philippines.)
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