DPI – Darkness Per Inch is a two-artist show by Mustafa Sabbagh and Milena Altini. The title hints at the chromatic domination of black in the work of the artists showing at Galleria Marcolini, from 6 February until 19 March 2016.
Mustafa Sabbagh’s pictures have a painterly materiality and physicality, embedded in a traditional, nearly religious composition. The Italian-Jordanian artist portraits contemporary Madonne con il Bambino and Pietà, whose bodies, soaked in a thick petrol pigment, pulse despite the immobility of their pose.
A blonde woman, whose name we know – as Francis Bacon revealed the identity of the people he portrayed in his famous hotel rooms, Sabbagh shows the names of his models in the titles of his files – holds a tool for vaginal-dilation as a weapon. It reminds us that body and battle are often synonyms, and that pain and suffering are structural and highly gendered conditions.
Sublime landscapes and romantic natural contemplations are shown along with aesthetically-impudent and provocative portraits. Innocence and awareness. William Blake and Bill Henson.
Equally innocent, independent from any judgment, and equally inspiring by their powerful spirals, Milena Altini’s Waiting Souls constitute a sculptural group of perfect souls, bonded in their unity of forms and objectives.
Lamb and calf leather’s strips, sacred or sacrificial depending on the latitude of their origin, move spirally and climb over the room. Milena Altini climaxes various nuances of black, which correspond to the different dermas of her souls; she honours an immense soul made up of thousands of them, stitching and therefore expressing a contingent yet incomprehensible necessity.
Sculpture is her favourite language, whose registry is that of leather; with her works Altini touches strings that all mankind knows, especially women, who know well what waiting means. Berlinde de Bruyckere and Eva Hesse.
Besides the chromatic reference, what links the two artists is obviously the body, or – citing Malaparte – the skin, the livid body and the evocative subject, and – paraphrasing Bulgakov – meat, whose sweeping smell makes futile even the act of reading.