Benedetta Giampaoli
Emeli Theander

Curated by Benedetta Monti

July 12 – August 12, 2023

I am learning to see. I don’t know why it is, but everything enters me more deeply and doesn’t stop where it once used to. I have an interior that I never knew of. Everything passes into it now. I don’t know what happens there.

- Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Voyageurs et Voyants underlines the metaphysical, surreal, dreamlike, and melancholic nature that inhabits the visual and conceptual research of Benedetta Giampaoli and Emeli Theander. The hypertrophy of the uncanny hovers throughout the exhibition is dissected through a key of disorienting innocence between dense brushstrokes and frayed marks that float in bright colors in the obscurity of the illustrated themes.

The human – or almost human – figure emerges in the paintings of both artists in a central and, at the same time, isolated way.

If Benedetta Giampaoli (1997, Recanati, Italy) offers a composition full of references to decadence, vanitas, and human complexity, in the work of Emeli Theander (1984, Gothenburg, Sweden) the pictorial configuration is more dedicated to the expression of the unconscious, to revealing its hidden interstices, and what the surface often escapes, through a fantastic and fairy-tale aesthetic.

At the edges of the main characters that rule the individual scenes appear elements that, although visually and stylistically distant from each other in the formal structures of the two artists, participate in a wider narrative, allowing the ensemble to be portrayed within a single frame. One can recognize components linked to the ephemeral and the occult, such as the flame, the skull, and playing cards, in Giampaoli’s work, defined through a viscous sign and a decisive gestural expressiveness. Theander plays with repelling and disturbing beings, with figures in disinterested poses and an all-pervasive nature with features tending towards geometric abstraction, all seasoned with a subterranean and foreign emotionality. In this limbo of evocative images, the human presence is not always removed from reality – as is the case in the exaggeration of oniric space – so the works invite us to empathize with the same stasis suffered by Pessoa’s Bernardo Soares, who in The Book of Disquiet remains in a state of uncertainty and passage, waiting for a sleep that will never come.

Theander’s work Hustler, 2022, is dominated by a formal continuity between background, main subjects, and secondary elements. The contours are blurred, the background echoes the mantle of the beast, nature is reprojected in the human body with a venerable position, and the composition is at times repulsive but regulated by pastel, innocent and luminous colors. Giampaoli’s work, Voyageurs et Voyants, 2023, freezes time through a suffocating chromatism. The details of the objects present are representative of the artist’s research, which merges the cryptic, and the impenetrable and places clues on the canvas like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle.

The exhibition stretches into the unknown, calling for an ending in the form of a restless purification. After accepting every symbol and image, one indulges in dreaming, one welcomes the mask and the perverse and is pleased to finally orchestrate a new, authentic mixture of individuality and elsewhere; a feeling of familiarity with the surrender to catharsis that recalls Olivier de Sagazan’s performance Transfiguration, 1998. Abandoning all dissonant allusions to logics of comfort and visual permanence, the works autonomously emphasize a unique and prophetic imagery,
a scenography of the futuristic and the absolute.

- Benedetta Monti, July 2023



My artistic research focuses on the translation of personal and literary visions through the medium of painting. I draw freely from past and present references that stimulate my curiosity, trying to open the images to new points of view. The intent is to mix and make fluid connections between the different elements I choose, leaving the images as free as possible to be interpreted.


I have created an imaginary vision of the unconscious that resembles a botanical greenhouse. In these garden rooms, I see figures and landscapes being reflected by the imaginary walls, or in the water. I feel that being mirrored gives me a sense of self and keeps me from getting lost in my own wild nature.

I want my paintings to carry paradoxical emotions, and by that, I mean the ones that are hard to grasp or the ones that are "hidden". It shouldn’t be obvious what emotions the image transforms, perhaps something humorous is going on, but at the same time there is a tragic aspect. I use my oil paint in the same contradictory manner, combining thick and bold strokes with thin, delicate layers.

I see painting as a way to dig into whatever it means to be human, like a psychological archeologist looking to reveal whatever is layered underneath the surface.