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Prodigy Kid. Francesco Cavaliere e Leonardo Pivi

Contemporary art and ancient art meet and influence each other in the exhibition Prodigy Kid | Francesco Cavaliere - Leonardo Pivi, curated by Daniele Torcellini, organised by the MAR - Art Museum of the City of Ravenna. The exhibition wouldn’t have been possible without the valuable support of the Emilia-Romagna Region, the Emilia-Romagna POR FESR Programme 2014/2020 - Axis 6 - Actions 2.3.1. “Attractive and Participating Cities”, La Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna, Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna, Romagna Acque Società delle fonti. 

Coming from different generations, Leonardo Pivi (1965) and Francesco Cavaliere (1980) have taken two very distinct artistic journeys. However, in 2018 they began collaborating on the creation of fantastic tales and contemporary fairy tales, which take the form of installations of mosaics, sculptures and objects, animated by performative actions, where words and sounds lead us on an exploration of their imagination as well as our own. The exhibition, set up on the first and second floors of the Museum, stems from the idea of presenting a current, intense and original artistic experimentation that sees mosaic, balanced between past and present, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, in great prominence and organically combined with other forms of expression. 

The exhibition is divided into several sections. The collaboration between Cavaliere and Pivi, to whom the exhibition rooms on the second floor are dedicated, is flanked on the first floor by two sections where autonomous works by both artists are presented in retrospect and in the form of personal interventions. The common thread running through the works is the idea of highlighting not only the shared activity, but also the personal experiences of the two artists, between assonances and dissonances.

The exhibition offers a wide range of materials, techniques, languages and themes, as well as an evocative comparison with ancient art. The dialogue with the past, both recent and distant, a primary component of the artists’ poetics of the fantastic, has led them to confront significant testimonies. These include the literary legacy of French writer Raymond Roussel, in the first phase of their work witnessed in the exhibition by the Solimandante Cycle, and, subsequently, the Mosaic of Anubis, from the 2nd-4th centuries, preserved in the City Museum of Rimini and included in the installation that the two artists dedicated to the archaeological find, Anubis vs. Baboon, and entirely reproduced in the exhibition, including the Rimini mosaic. The attitude of these two series of works is reflected in the most recent series of works, created specifically for the Ravenna exhibition, and dedicated to the legend of the Monster of Ravenna. The Prodigy Kid series, from which the entire exhibition takes its title, exceptionally hosts a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci that can be traced back to one of the iconographies of the Monster that circulated in the first decades of the 16th century; a 17th century printed edition of a watercolour drawing of the Monster by Ulisse Aldrovandi, published in the posthumous volume, Monstrorum historia cum Paralipomenis historiæ omnium animaliume; and a selection of works dating back to the 1st century B.C. - 2nd century A.D., from the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, chosen by the artists in collaboration with the Neapolitan museum, to broaden the imaginative horizon of their reinvention of the 16th-century legend, thus creating an installation in which archaeology and ancient art, legends and Renaissance iconography, video-game memories and speculative fiction stories are mixed.

The exhibition was created with the aim of bearing witness to one of the trajectories that mosaic has taken, moving away from Ravenna, in the context of contemporary artistic research. The tortuous and heterogeneous labyrinth it proposes leaves us disoriented, bewitched, disturbed and enraptured, in the challenge of reconciling conflicting and complex emotions, as tends to happen when art is confronted with the complexities and contradictions of the human condition.

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