The smooth surface of decay – Diego Iaia in Brussels

By virtue of collaboration between Gallery Apart and Drome Magazine, it will be possible to see works by Diego Iaia as well as fellow Italian artists Luana Perilli and Marco Strappato during the Art Brussels weekend, as Drome’s Brussels office turns into a temporary project space. The group exhibition is entitled ‘Not afraid of beauty‘ and promises to combine conceptuality with strong aesthetics, although one may guess that it will not be that simple, if Iaia is involved.

Diego Iaia, Untitled, 2010, 70 x 50 cm, courtesy The Gallery Apart, Rome

Indeed, Iaia’s work centers on the boundaries of true and false in art and life alike. Not many artists admit to having an eminent art forger as their inspiration, but a recent Iaia project was based on the Art Forger’s Handbook, written by British painter Eric Hebborn who claimed to have more than a thousand paintings (mostly attributed to Old Masters) in premium museums as well as on auctions. Hebborn, for apparent reasons a widely controversial figure, was found with a cracked skull on a street in Rome, the city where Iaia was born and where he still lives and works.

Iaia draws parallels between artistic lure (say, oil and canvas pretending to be a landscape) and the deliberate improvements to human physique through cosmetics or photo editing. Both types of deception illustrate man’s pretensions for things to be different than what they actually are. Nevertheless, while the artist claims that the smooth surface of decoy (or decay, if you will) is an utterly senseless attempt to change the human condition, his works remain aesthetically appealing.

Diego Iaia, Untitled, 2011, 29 x 22cm, courtesy The Gallery Apart, Rome

What is the value of beauty – and art – if both can be forged? Is artistic practice always a form of counterfeiting, as claimed by Iaia? Those questions are worth to reflect upon during the week to come.

Not afraid of beauty will be open from Friday to Sunday, at DROME’s project space, rue Notre-Dame du Sommeil 2, 1000 Brussels.

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