Sep 22, 2011

PROFILE | Maurizio Anzeri

 Maurizio Anzeri, Penny, 2009, 24 x 13 cm

Originally a fine art sculptor with a drawing background, Maurizio Anzeri  has crafted a unique way of working with the photographic medium.  Working with discarded black and white photographs, synthetic hair and threads, Maurizio Anzeri creates a combination of these two materials resulting in embroidered photography.  The found photographs are transformed with multicolored threads creating contours primarily focused on the face. Maurizio Anzeri, reinterprets the photograph from the original into something completely new, eerie, and also beautiful. 

It is as if the facial expression that is captured, becomes exaggerated with his designs that are sewn into the photographs and becomes a new psychological presence-a culmination of mixed persona.  What was once two dimensional, now takes on a three dimensional form and shape.  Similarities can be seen between Maurizio Anzeri’s embroidered photographs and those of the collages of Surrealists and photomontages of Hannah Hoch, primarily her Indische Tanzerin, and John Stezakers' Old Mask Series.

Maurizio Anzeri, Robert, 2011, 24 x 18 cm
Maurizio Anzeri, Rita, 2011, 23.5 x 17.5 cm
I’ve been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression. I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will – the light changes, and at some points you can lose the face, and at others you can still see under it.
 There’s a dynamic in what happens between the photograph, the embroidery on top, and you standing in front looking at it. I try never to completely cover a face, you can always still see the face underneath. There are no rules other than I always leave one or both eyes open. Nothing is bigger in my head than a face, it’s the best landscape we can look at. It’s all to do with the centre, the body. Like a costume or other identity, my work reveals something that is behind the face that suddenly becomes in front. It’s like a mask – not a mask you put on, but something that grows out of you. It’s what the photo is telling you and what you want to read in the photos. I get my ideas from many different sources: it could be theatre, or someone dressed up on the tube, a tribe in Papua New Guinea, or Versace. It’s never one specific thing.

Aside from creating photographic sculptures, Maurizio Anzeri also works with hair by itself to create hair sculptures, which seem to be reminiscent of a creature one would find in the Addams Family such as “Cousin It”.  Each sculpture represents a personality and becomes a research process around the human body and its representation.  After winning The Vauxhall Collective bursary in the Fine Art Category, Maurizio Anzeri presented these sculptures in his installation titled, The Garden Party, which ran for all of October 2010 at Q Space in London.  Unfortunately, after scouring the Internet, I was still not able to identify any of the names of these sculptures, as there is no current detailed archive of the show, which was funded and put on by Vauxhall Collective.  Hand-stitched, these figures draw inspiration from the elegance of 17th Century Versailles and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.

When asked about the reaction he was trying to provoke,

The idea with my current show at Q is to create a party with guests. There are nine sculptures now but it will be ongoing with more and more complicated guests. When you are confronted by the sculptures they will talk to you about many different things, from voodoo ceremony to something in a Galliano show or in Versailles. I try to bring all these elements together in one piece to confuse you. To give you an awareness mixed into one new form, which is all of them and none of them at the same time.

Maurizio Anzeri

Maurizio Anzeri

Maurizio Anzeri

-Patrick Murray


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