Kerstin Brätsch/eduardo Paolozzi Sun Swallower

Sant’andrea De Scaphis, Rome 30 June – 25 September


Art dealer Gavin Brown may have shut down his eponymous New York gallery to join Barbara Gladstone, but his Rome space carries on. A deconsecra­ted ninth-century church, it features an exceedingl­y high ceiling, a seventeent­h-century altar and dilapidate­d walls. There is something genuinely spiritual about it, which the German artist Kerstin Brätsch and guest curator Saim Demircan harness in Sun Swallower, featuring glassworks and stucco marmo pieces by Brätsch and aluminium sculptures from the 1960s by Eduardo Paolozzi.

Brätsch’s bright glassworks, studded with blue, red, fuchsia and turquoise gemstones, shine like stained glass, and feature figures that viewers will instinctiv­ely categorise as occult, shamanisti­c, atavistic. The glassworks appear to fit seamlessly in the space until you are jarred by the sight of a long mechanical arm that holds them. The works’ titles redouble this bridging between ancient and modern, referencin­g subjects such as Munin and Hugin, a pair of raven spirits in Norse mythology who carried news and informatio­n to the god Odin. Munin (Gedächtnis) (2012–21) recalls a Tibetan Buddhist demon, with fiery eyes, each a di™erent coloured sliced agate, and swirling stylised nostrils spouting bright red fire. The pieces, in this case consisting of Schwarzlot on glass jewels, sliced agates, church window bordering and lead on antique glass, are gorgeously executed patchworks of recycled materials. Below the glassworks are Brätsch’s stucco marmos, a combinatio­n of plaster, pigments, glue, wax and oil on honeycomb that create shimmering marblelike sculptures. Brätsch, a painter by training, has spoken of following the logic of the brushwork in a di™erent language, which is precisely what is happening here – indeed a few of the works are called Brushstrok­es. In Fossil Psychics for Christa (Stucco Marmo) (2019–21), a psychedeli­c pixelated face looks out at us in neon shades of pink, blue and orange.

Brätsch’s works take up the walls while the floor is the stage for Paolozzi’s welded aluminium sculptures. The Twin Towers of the Sfinx - State II (1962), looking like something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), has been placed at the foot of the altar. Paolozzi, however, had a futurist type of faith in machines, and indeed these are not ominous constructi­ons: Girot (1964), cocking its head at us like a puppy, is positively cute. Together, Brätsch and Paolozzi – one speaking the language of occult but playful signifiers, the other of a kind of science-fiction modernity – bounce o™ each other e™ectively and encourage us to embrace technology’s brighter sides: a rare feat in these dark times. Ana Vukadin

 ?? ?? Sun Swallower, 2021 (installati­on view). Photo: Daniele Malojoli. Courtesy the artist and Sant’andrea de Scaphis, Rome
Sun Swallower, 2021 (installati­on view). Photo: Daniele Malojoli. Courtesy the artist and Sant’andrea de Scaphis, Rome

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