“Stitched heart” exhibition review by Costanza Sartoris

In a corner of Milan, hidden by residential buildings, lays the romantic concept store Nonostante Marras – curated by the fashion designer Antonio Marras himself. Just like entering heaven, the corridor opens to a cosy courtyard covered by wisteria and the scenic designs used for the latest stylist’s runway shows. There, the hangar reveals itself – an open space where clothes, books, food and art merge in a casual and yet harmonious atmosphere. 

Marras has always considered art as a fundamental part of his life, and his Nonostante store reflects this: part of the space is dedicated to contemporary art, with a specific project named “L’aldilà e l’aldiquà” (“The afterworld and the world”) curated by Francesca Alfano Miglietti on display for 2016.

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Within lies the gallery where you can visit the poetic exhibition “Stitched Heart” by the London-based artist Franko B. Born in Milan in 1960, Franko B is one of the most intriguing Italian artists based in the UK. Indeed, he began his career by moving to London when he was just 18; there he frequented the Camberwell College of Arts followed by the Chelsea College of Art – shaping his research on the usage of the body as his canvas. In fact, Franko B began his vocation in the 80s; a time of great fear about HIV, but also a time where the paranoia of the illness was fought by the gay community thanks to the usage of their body as a muscly, masculine and sexual canvas.

Being homosexual himself, Franko B has always tried to question this homosexual status quo. He presented himself as a living image of imperfection, notably in performances where he showed himself naked, powerless and bleeding. Indeed, bleeding is a metaphor of life in the research of Franko B: we bleed when we are wounded and we feel the pain of suffering, and if left unaddressed – we would all eventually bleed to death. However, his work positively emphasises that blood flows in all of us – it gives us the strength to live and, most importantly, too love.

“Stitched heart” is an exhibition of nearly 100 drawings stitched by the artist himself with thick wool. At first sight, the images presented seem very distant from the artist’s well-known bleeding performances; but a more careful examination reveals the deep poetic connection they have. Whilst the mediums are different, the body and the blood are part of the images just as they were in his early works: while the actual performance of the work is not as public as it was before – it is a more intimate experience. The bleeding is still there – but rather than being clear and provocative, it is now more delicate and partially hidden. Now the bleed is confined to the artist’s fingers as he carefully entwines stiches offering an insight into his own existence.

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These stitched sketches form a diary, where all the icons related to his imaginary come together in the form of a traditional craft. Hearts, penis, crosses, skulls, boys, soldiers, blood: those are some of the images that reveal the inner workings of Franko B. They emerge as rough sketches, and form a tapestry of ideas, conflicts and challenges. The presentation of such intensely personal pieces on an unusual media creates depth to the work – loosing yourself for a period of time as if to mirror the hours labouring over these handcrafts, where the repetitive bounding of each thread turns almost into a poetic gesture itself.

If you are passing by Milan, don’t miss the chance to visit this small and visceral exhibit, being displayed until the end of October.

 

“Stitched heart”

by Franko B

Curated by Francesca Alfano Miglietti

15 June – 30 October 2016

Monday – Saturday 10.00 – 19.00; Sunday 12.00 – 19.00

NONOSTANTE MARRAS, Via Cola di Rienzo 8, 20144 Milano

Free admission