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Masked Tales

Vanni Cuoghi, Marcel Dzama


On Saturday 7th May the exhibition Masked Tales with works by Vanni Cuoghi and Marcel Dzama opens at the Labs Gallery in Bologna, via Santo Stefano 38 (


The exhibition was born from the intent to compare the languages of the two artists who, although with considerable differences, use the mechanisms of narration to stage strange stories with a folk taste. 


Ivan Quaroni writes in the text in the catalogue: "Why combine the work of such different artists as Vanni Cuoghi and Marcel Dzama? After all, there are many elements of discontinuity, primarily biographical and cultural, that separate them. One is Genoese, born in 1966, naturalized Milanese; the other, born in 1974, Canadian from Winnipeg, province of Manitoba, lives today in New York. Their background could not be more dissimilar, considering that while the former grew up emotionally and intellectually in the post-modern climate of the 1980s, between two urban centres in northern Italy, suffering the fascination of contemporary art and painting history, the latter was formed in an environment strongly influenced by nature, drawing on the folk traditions of his country and the popular culture of the 1990s. Two identikits so manifestly antithetical, what can they have in common? Apparently nothing, and yet... Yet the elements of formal and attitudinal convergence are numerous, even though each has developed its own inner mythology and an autonomous geography of artistic references in which some common ancestry lurks".


Cuoghi draws, paints and cuts out figures that he then reassembles into small dioramas, which are only designed in appearance. The artist's painting is constructed by adding, removing and masking certain parts, through an erratic creative path, which does not involve a precise design process.

Dzama, on the other hand, paints stories without a beginning and an end, leaving it to the observers to finish them by completing the missing parts. His watercolours, like pages torn from a Gothic tale, have a fierce and sarcastic cut, laying bare the manias and weaknesses of American society.


According to the curator from a formal point of view, Marcel Dzama and Vanni Cuoghi use a graphic language with a clear design layout that somehow recalls the world of comics. "Both of them, especially in the past, have plundered the iconography of American superheroes, placing it in the estranged and alienating world of their own narratives. But if in Dzama's watercolours you can read the ancestry from the so-called clear line of classical French comics, in Cuoghi's you can feel, rather, the anatomical lesson of Burne Hogarth's Tarzan, mixed with academic studies on Baroque and Renaissance. These are two different ways of understanding drawing, the classical Cuoghi and the synthetic Dzama, which meet, however, through a common passion for illustration, on the level of immediacy and communicative freshness". 

On display about thirty works including watercolors on paper dioramas and collages. 




Vanni Cuoghi, Marcel Dzama, Masked Tales

Edited by Ivan Quaroni

Labs Gallery via Santo Stefano n 38 Bologna

Opening: 7 May h 18,30

From 7 May to 7 June

Info: Alessandro Luppi, tel:+39 348 9325473   


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