E Venne in Furore Painting by Rosemary Salkin Sbiroli

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Art Description

Painting: Acrylic, Ink, Paper on Canvas.

This artwork has been finalized for a group exhibition part of the celebrations for the 500 years from the first release of the Orlando Furioso (Raging Roland).

The Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto’s epic Orlando Furioso first appeared in print exactly 500 years ago. Taking inspiration from the French Chanson de Roland, Ariosto recounted the fantastic adventures of one of Charlemagne’s knights, Roland (Orlando) and his associates.

I’d like to give you some more insights on the meaning of this work.

The verses that inspired my work are the following from the 1st canto of the Orlando Furioso:
‘In the same strain of Roland will I tell
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme,
On whom strange madness and rank fury fell,
A man esteemed so wise in former time;’

The starting point for my work have been two elements:
The first one is the cubic structure in which is written the verse of the Orlando that inspired me. This geometric element is part of my poetic of artistic abstraction and in this specific case represents the ‘being wise’: the mind of Orlando before the fury.
This element seems tridimensional but in reality is flat, gray with no shadows or highlights (this sensation is increased by the text that lays bidimensionally on the cubic structure). My attempt is to represent the mind of a person that, even if has developed his own personality (the geometric structure is original, it isn’t just a cube), is gray (and that’s the reason for the color that I’ve chosen for the background) / ‘wise’ without deepness almost transparent (you can see only the structure, is a ‘see through’ element).
This representation is because to me Orlando is just waiting for an excuse to go mad. Is clearly so involved in himself, on the image that he has of himself that when he inevitably crashes against the reality that he tried to avoid as long as possible he can’t do anything else that go mad and become furious.
‘Rage’, ‘Furious’ is a strange choice of terms…the ‘Fury’ is letting the rage go, be free from the wisdom.
Tolstoj in Anna Karenina said ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ I think that we can adopt the same concept to the ‘rage’ of Orlando.
All of this takes us to the second element that inspired me. This is a reproduction/reinterpretation of a sculpture by Jeff Koons (Hulk (Friends), polychromed bronze, 71.25 x 48.5 x 26 inches, 181 x 123.2 x 66 cm, © Jeff Koons, 2004-2012).
The choice of Hulk seemed a no brainer: who can better represent rage? Moreover
Superheroes, justice champions, are the modern expression of the epic poems.
It is not by chance that when Orlando goes mad rips his clothes as Hulk. Even the plots are similar: the absurdity of the madness for love is comparable to the uncontrollable rage that brings to a physical transformation.
In this choice there is more. The showing of the exaggerate masculine hubris and virility through the reproduction of a ‘swellhead’ (Hulk, as in the sculpture, is represented as an inflatable), the homage to Koons, the most kitsch of the contemporary artists, as a transposition of Ariosto’s extreme plot, their (Ariosto’s and Koons) going over the top hoping that the audience will follow them. There is as well the heaviness of Koons sculptures: they seem something but are made of other; they look light but are heavy (the unbearable heavyness of being isin’t what Orlando was feeling?).
Then we have the ‘Friends’ that are on the sculpture, small inflatable animals, placed on Hulk’s shoulders. They reminded me a bit of the ‘monkey on the back’ of junkies, a bit some creatures Hulk was protecting, a bit the antique romans gods that protected the house called: ‘Lari’… Anyhow in my work they represent a part of Orlando’s personality as well and they are melting away, there is only a drawn trace of them, lines that have lost any meaning, a vague chromatic reference that is fading, the base drawing behind them that is emerging and at the same time fading away… To let yourself go to rage/madness indents deep inside your personality and you start loosing pieces of yourself, maybe exactly the ones that see more faraway and sign your path.
Finally there is the text. As in all the proper Graphic Novels there is some text. An attempt to accentuate even more the kitsch aspect of Ariosto’s work, but even here there is more, the text is fading away, there are only scraps remaining as Orlando’s self. The viewer is called to an interpretation effort in order to understand the painting, the transformation that is taking place and that there is more to be ‘read’ in the work that what you see on the surface.


E Venne in Furore

Rosemary Salkin Sbiroli



Size: 31.5 W x 39.4 H x 3.9 in

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