Elena Monzo

Orzinuovi (BS), 1981
The artist’s works are populated with silhouettes drawn freehand by thin and sinuous lines, light and delicate, lacking in angles and bevels, which transform their bodies into an envelope to be filled with glittering accessories and patchwork of colored fabrics that sometimes lead to fluorescent. This sparkling patina covers women who play at dressing up and adorning their bodies with glittering accessories, who love to present themselves to the mischievous eye of the public with a natural and distinctive sensuality, bordering on the limit between the most daring transgression in neo-pop style, trash and comics. The patchwork of heterogeneous materials that adorns her dancers, theatrical performers, gymnasts, drag queens or transgenders is composed of a kaleidoscope of symbols, images and metaphorical forms from the reworking of the suggestions captured during her travels. America Cuba, Japan, China and Lebanon have given the artist a fascinating iconographic baggage to draw on. From the hypertrophy of a consumerism made up of a proliferation of artificial images, dominated by idols and gluttonous appeals created by the mass media - of which the colorful cupcakes are the emblem - captured during the travels that have taken her from New York to California, to Florida, to arrive at the mysticism and the animistic mixture of ancient African and Spanish heritage , pre-Columbian rites and globalization of the culture of Mexico and Cuba, where the Christian-Catholic roots blend with the popular beliefs.

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And then we come to the cosmopolitan and vicious, fake/western mask of contemporary China, where millenary traditions coexist with the chaos of the polluted metropolis, which seems to vibrate in the masks of red dragons, in the geisha shoes of her women in search of an identity, to Lebanon, where Monzo has absorbed the tension between different traditions, Israel on the one hand, Islam on the other.

This encounter/clash is translated into the intricate weave of the arabesque, a classical ornamental style of Islamic origin, a metaphor for this complex network of interchange between different cultures, to arrive, passing through her travels, at the meticulousness and harmony of Japanese decorative techniques, at the millenary tradition of oriental silk that vibrates in the iridescent preciousness of the delicate weaves of the fabrics that Monzo then inserts in her sparkling compositions. It is through contact with oriental culture, perhaps, that the artist comes to make paper, a symbol of absolute purity in Zen religiosity, her material of choice for the whiteness that emanates, able to balance the strong contrasts that animate the internal dynamism of her works: black/white, empty/full, appearing/being. Her works live of contradictions, within them there is the constant struggle between color and drawing, between the two-color of the black sign drawn on the flat two-dimensionality of the white paper. From this flat dimension, where the artist sketches frames of quortidian life, flows a collage with a strongly three-dimensional appearance, composed of an incredible variety of layers of various materials: multicolor glitter, stickers, ink strokes, ornaments, multicolor fabric flaps of various patterns, adhesive tape, psychedelic effect papers and mirror scotch.

Monzo's women feel free only if they are covered by a thousand sequins and they invade the space of the work only once they have satisfied their hunger as "consumers of illusions", as Alberto Mattia Martini defines themSo Monzo's primary objective is to exaggerate with the glitter of her imaginative textile weaves, as if it were a priority, the engine that moves the vicious circle of appearance in contemporary society, creating a cover, a container, the winking "packaging" that provides an (apparent) individuality, giving us the illusion of glitz.
The artist amalgamates the iridescent colors of strips of fabric and colored paper with the technique of collage or combines them with hard strokes of dark color in a chaotic and visionary, a frenetic chaos that reproduces the fascinations of modernity in its small and transient microcosm; in this "psychedelic pantomime" are born the characters bewitched by the perennial and ravenous thirst for appearance that feeds the consumerism of a fashion circus. And just composing a set of shreds of materials decontextualized from the urban style, including ribbons and sequins, Elena Monzo adds a component sometimes clownish to his work.
In fact, her eccentric characters, dancers, gymnasts, contortionists, are a post-modern reinterpretation of the mysterious cabaret women of Toulouse-Lautrec, but with tormented features reminiscent of the characters in Goya's Capricci. These women contort themselves into impossible poses in order to re-enter a sort of glittering limbo, made by a constant and perennial homologation of appearance, to identify themselves in evanescent lifestyles; they are struck by the curse of a perennial eagerness for aesthetic perfection and follow a homologation of behaviors typical of our society, covering themselves with a glittering patina made of fluorescent colored papers and an extraordinary range of chromatic variations. Monzo's silhouettes strike the viewer with their provocative exhibitionism, with their ostentatious contortions of circus artists, with their aggressive poses that are enhanced by the surreal depth of a dark background that evokes the most primordial side of man. The spirit of these women is dominated by the instinct to chase fashions, to adorn themselves with a superficial layer of ornaments in the evanescence of a life consecrated to affectation. This intriguing "packaging" makes the characters portrayed by the artist elusive, so much so that we are all tempted to unmask their true features, to strip them from this glittering container composed of a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, to search under this substrate for their impossible features.
These mysterious figures, with their emphatic poses, have the task of making us reflect on the enchanting dazzle of a world made of a perennial homologation and reproposed by the artist as a concentrate of materials with imaginative textures that involve us from a sensory point of view, making us fly with our imagination like soap bubbles in the atmosphere. As a representation of the heterogeneous tendencies of modernity, Monzo's work takes on a symbolic, almost totemic value of the current world and aims to be worshipped as an idol within its exciting, stimulating and colorful envelope, in which the artist finds all the representations of herself, of the inputs gathered from the different cultures with which she has come into contact, transformed into a "carousel" of symbols that continue to repeat themselves, in a succession of recurrences and periodic mutations, a fundamental repetition for artistic creation.