The Traveling Landscape goes Berlin

21 June – 03 August 2024
Robert Grunenberg is delighted to announce “The Traveling Landscape goes Berlin” by Agostino Iacurci.

The Traveling Landscape goes Berlin
Robert Grunenberg
21.06.2024 – 03.08.2024

A central theme in the work of Italian artist Agostino Iacurci (*1986) is the painted garden, in which plants, people, architecture, ornaments and geometries combine to form an immersive landscape. Iacurci has repeatedly taken botanical ornaments and decorations, hybridized them and transformed them into paintings, sculptures, stage-like installations, performances or monumental murals on the façades of private and public institutions. His works are almost always site-specific, responding to the natural and architectural environment of the show and its history. Iacurci is interested in the interpenetration of nature and civilization and the development of new, non-anthropocentric perspectives. 

He breaks down ornamental, mythological, natural and decorative motifs from the entire history of art and culture, from antiquity to modernity, into a colorful, luminous, two-dimensional geometric style. It is reminiscent of futurism, Italian postmodernism, folk art, surrealism and decorative arts- but also science fiction, horror and post-human speculative narratives.  

The Traveling Landscape debuted at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood in fall of 2023 and has now made its way overseas to our gallery in Charlottenburg. And so the Traveling Landscape goes Berlin, has been adapted to a different environment yet carrying the same character. The show is inspired by Iacurci’s fascination with cycloramas, large-scale panoramic paintings that wind around the inside of a cylindrical platform or circular space. The cyclorama is designed to provide visitors with an immersive visual experience. The seamless, circular composition of the panorama creates the illusion of being surrounded by the scene it depicts.  In the 19th century, cycloramas became popular as a form of mass entertainment and education. They usually depicted historical, mythological or natural landscapes, new technological developments, distant lands or even the conquest of the American West to mobilize settlers.
The audience stood in the center of the circular space to experience the artwork. Mechanical devices often moved the screens to give the impression of being on a train or ship. The most popular screenings moved from town to town in tents, a kind of precursor to the modern cinema.  At the same time, this circular panorama is a hybrid of painting, moving images and backdrop.

The Traveling Landscape functions as a deconstructed panorama that adapts to the form of the building. Unlike the original panoramas, which attempted to create an illusion of reality, Iacurci’s installation presents a personal, stylized view of the Italian landscape. 

Two motifs recur throughout his work: the palm tree and the cactus, which are also characteristic of Californian as well as Italian vegetation. They were also central motifs in Dry Days – Tropical Nights, one of Iacurci’s most recent installations, which he realized as part of Milan Design Week 2023 in an iconic skyscraper designed by Arrigo Arrighetti in the heart of Milan, soon to be demolished. The exhibition was inspired by predictions that in a few hundred years, climate catastrophe will turn Italy into a tropical landscape with desert areas. The cactus and the palm tree are among the plant species that can withstand such extreme weather conditions. At the same time, for Iacurci, who grew up in Foggia in southern Italy, the palm tree is part of his childhood memories, especially of family trips to the Parco Urbano Karol Wojtyla, a 19th-century park decorated in the style of the period with a magnificent colonnaded portico, pavilions and palm avenues.

As a cultural symbol, the palm tree has always captured the Western imagination. Many believe that the „tree of life“ in the Book of Genesis was actually a palm tree. During the age of exploration and colonization, the palm tree was brought from the tropics to European capitals as a symbol of exoticism and control over distant territories. In the mid-nineteenth century, palm houses in Victorian England and Europe staged miniature jungles for fascinated audiences, representing the ambitions and prestige of wealthy collectors and colonial elites. Soon after, the palm tree conquered seaside resorts from the English Channel to the Mediterranean. 

Artists of the 20th century, from Henri Matisse and David Hockney to Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari, painted and photographed the palm tree. With The Traveling Landscape, Iacurci takes up this artistic tradition but places it in an ambivalent context. In previous projects, he has explored plants and organisms that, in the wake of globalization, are introduced from other regions or climatic zones, multiply unchecked, undergo new metamorphoses and destroy native ecosystems. This also applies to cultivated plants such as the palm tree, which has migrated around the world and has been crossed and bred again and again. Today, it is also a symbol for industrialization, and exploitation. Africa, Asia and even the Amazon are covered in ‘wandering’ palm oil plantations, whose palm species displace indigenous vegetation and destroy social structures.

But Iacurci is not interested in making simple statements. He also shows the palm as a kind of time and space traveler, a resilient organism that can adapt to a variety of environments. With The Traveling Landscape, Iacurci creates a place of beauty and contemplation, a visual reverie for the crisis-ridden Anthropocene.

Indeed, Iacurci goes beyond making simple statements. Through his work, he portrays the palm as a time and space traveler, a resilient organism capable of adapting to diverse environments. With The Traveling Landscape, he crafts a space of beauty and contemplation, a visual reverie amidst the challenges of the Anthropocene era.

21 June 2024
6 – 9 PM

Exhibition on view
20 April – 15 June 2024

For more information, please contact the gallery:  mail@robertgrunenberg.com

This exhibition is supported by