Gasworks presents The Lustful Turk, the first UK solo exhibition by Italian artist Patrizio Di Massimo.
Comprising newly commissioned painting, drawing, sculpture and wallpaper, Di Massimo’s exhibition introduces his ongoing project The Lustful Turk, initiated in 2012 and inspired by an erotic epistolary novel of the same name. First published anonymously in 1828, the book tells the story of Emily Barlow, an English girl who is abducted by the Dey of Algiers, incorrectly described as a ‘Turk’ and with whom she ends up falling madly in love.
Both critical of and intrigued by the worldview captured in this novel, Di Massimo knowingly reproduces its bawdiness and racist stereotypes in lush colours, soft furnishings and delicate brushstrokes. Imparting a feeling of guilty pleasure, symbolic statues and ornaments are shown to indulge the libidinal desires of characters that represent either whiteness robbed of innocence or an amoral otherness. Their erotic acts and gestures are also only ever half-concealed behind exuberant décor or a thin veneer of innuendo, with candles dripping wax, voluptuous cushions and hands grasping at the air all signifying sex or the longing for it.
Existing works on show from this series directly appropriate scenes from the original novel to emphasise the relationships between cultural and sexual boundaries. The concealment of penetration, for instance, hints at a cultural encounter that poses a threat to the integrity of Western civilisation, whereas sexual role-play exposes racist stereotypes. New works, on the other hand, move further away from this literary source to more freely explore the relationships between bodies and objecthood, politics and ornamentation, shame and desire, in a similarly lavish Victorian image-world.
The Lustful Turk is the inaugural exhibition of The Civilising Process, a yearlong programme of exhibitions and events at Gasworks inspired by German sociologist Norbert Elias’s eponymous 1939 book, which looks at the development of the tastes, manners and sensibilities of Western Europeans since the Middle Ages. From October 2013 to November 2014 Gasworks is collaborating with invited artists to tackle a wide range of issues raised by this book in an attempt to understand their relevance for contemporary debates and practices.
13 November 2013 at 7pm
Please join us for a talk between Patrizio Di Massimo, critic and curator Alessandro Rabottini and Gasworks' Exhibitions Curator Robert Leckie. During the evening they will discuss Di Massimo's practice and the development of his ongoing project The Lustful Turk, from the first incarnation curated by Rabottini at Villa Medici in Rome in 2012 to its current manifestation at Gasworks.
Patrizio Di Massimo (b. 1983, Jesi, Italy) lives and works in London. He received his MA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and has participated in residencies at Stipendium Kunstzeitraum, Munich (2012); De Ateliers, Amsterdam (2009-11); Sommerakademie at Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2010); and Fondazione Spinola Banna per l’Arte, Poirino, Italy (2009). His recent solo exhibitions include ‘Il Turco Lussurico’, Villa Medici, Rome (2012); ‘I want to live like this’, T293, Rome (2012-13); and a performance at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2012). In 2012 he was a finalist in the Premio Italia 2012, held at MAXXI, Rome, and participated in ‘La storia che non ho vissuto’, Castello di Rivoli, Rivoli, and ‘Ritual without Myth’, Royal College of Art, London. In 2014 he will present a solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon.