A metal structure, identical to those found outside greengrocers, is inserted inside the Galleria Matèria in Rome by the artist Giuseppe De Mattia, creating an ironic and profound short-circuit capable of dealing with both the theme of artistic production and its relative commodification. Esposizione di frutta e verdura (2019) is an installation intervention curated by Vasco Forconi and created by the artist by combining different languages, such as installation, sculpture, ready-made and graphics, to investigate and show the dynamics of the art world, remaining faithful to everyday language. The precision of the details and the faithful rendering of reality could also define the installation as a photograph that is rediscovered, however, in a bold three-dimensionality.

After having built an exhibition stall measuring almost two by three meters, equal in all respects to the stalls that can be found at the local market in every town in Italy, De Mattia went on to enrich it with boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, but hiding within them also ceramic reproductions made by the artist himself. During the weeks of the exhibition the boxes were emptied due to the decomposition process of the real fruit and vegetables to leave room only for the reproductions. The installation thus manifests itself as a declaration of love for everyday life which here finds its maximum celebration: from the street and from the market the wooden boxes, the scents of rosemary, chilli pepper and seasonal fruit find a new relocation inside than a much more sterile white wall. The displacement of these elements favors a new vision: the spectator observes the baskets with new attention and curiosity, experiencing a new fascination and discovery. The wonder increases thanks to the hidden reproductions, which generate a sort of game in the recognition between the true and the false. Taking up the pictorial technique of trompe l’oeil, De Mattia experiments with a sculptural version of it: they mix the ready-made with hyperrealism, different eras and references add up to each other, maintaining a simplicity of use capable of bringing to life the enchantment that everyday can arise.

This installation also functions as a great metaphorical machine to shed light on the functions and structures of artistic buying/selling: throughout the exhibition period it was in fact possible to buy both real fruit/vegetables and artist reproductions. Everything was then carefully packed in a series of bags made by the artist. Commercial success, in art as in gastronomy, largely depends on the ability to display and present one’s products and De Mattia, well aware of these aspects, decides to show them, hiding them into a reality that each of us knows, outside any profession or training. Esposizione di frutta e verdura is a declaration of love for the romantic and dreamy gaze that recognizes the beauty and universality of the world in everyday elements, and at the same time it is a satire on the dynamics of the economic dimension of art that they don’t want here be criticized or attacked but simply exposed.

Giuseppe De Mattia
Esposizione di frutta e verdure, 2019

Giuseppe De Mattia, Esposizione di frutta e verdura, 2019, installation view at Matèria, Rome © Roberto Apa

Giuseppe De Mattia, Esposizione di frutta e verdura, 2019, installation view at Matèria, Rome © Roberto Apa