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stampedeTavola disegno 10.jpg

Rebecca Zen's research investigates, through painting and drawing, a repertoire of subjects belonging to the playful dimension, pop culture and food as an element of consumption and necessity, which when put in relation to each other tell a true story, which it is inspired by a false story, which itself is not very inspired*. Chases, violence, pathos characterize the characters and the relationships that are created in the paintings between the various elements: the toy soldier who waits for the bison to escape right in the place where he can kill him, behind a loaf of bread. The violence is never explicit, there are only toys to represent it, harmless and futile objects. The brutality of the fighting emerges from the excited movement of the fleeing masses, but the degree of ferocity is reduced when the toys are accompanied by comforting elements such as bread, the nest, the table, all archetypes of welcome and of what is considered familiar. The dichotomous combination of the painted elements brings out their disturbing character, adhering perfectly to the Freudian theory in which the unheimlich, or what is considered alienating, is in close connection with what is familiar, heimlich**. The paintings tell unlikely and invisible stories, at times real but immersed in the imaginary: a story that we think we know but which in reality is deformed. In fruition, the bitter taste in the mouth is the result, the elements are in contact with each other through paradoxes: the key to understanding them that unites them and makes them exist both as fiction and as truth.​​​​


​​* Watch Favolacce, directed by Damiano and Fabio D'Innocenzo (2020, Italy, Switzerland, Pepito Produzioni, Rai Cinema, Vision DIstribution, Amka Films Productions, RSI), DVD.

** See Sigmund Freud, Essays on Art, Literature and Language, Boringhieri, Turin 1969.


Rebecca's work immediately brings to mind a cognitive operation of childhood play which becomes an absolute tool for the fabrication of fantasies in the child: the superposition of toys from different sets and commonly used objects to create autotrophic settings and contexts that stage some type of quest.  An adventure in which childhood fantasies can take shape and give way to the imaginative stratification of meanings that characterizes the need to translate one object into another in a visionary and autonomous way.

Like a childhood play in the very first years of life, Rebecca's painting is configured as a need to establish a laboratory of space, that is, a place where to model and experiment within the horizon of fiction, battle or adventure, in any case of undertaking.

Toys, bread and everyday objects become architectural elements that build, weave and compose the texture of a fantasy-mythological and epic space, vast in its scenography made up of fictitious things and people. Rebecca loves collecting these objects which are the concrete basis of a phantasmagoric and figurative repertoire that finds life within the images that she conceives.

The triumphant roar of natural, extreme and sublime elements, which Rebecca needs to evoke in a refined pendant with toys coming from distant, exotic imaginaries, which in this period of her production recall the Far West iconography, and in particular an extremely poignant element of this world, or buffalo hunting, lead to the need to introduce the Anglo-Saxon category of stampede. The tumultuous and disorderly stampede of an enormous herd, a mass of quadrupedal herbivorous animals, is well suited as a summary term of the instances that lead Rebecca in search of wild images. Visions of earthquake and volcano, evoked however by comfortable and playful metaphors. Images that make a mess. Scream of eagles. And what could be the cherry on the cake in all this? But the cherry and the cake, of course.

Food as an architectural and landscape element in Rebecca's poetics, above all thanks to the instrument of its consistency, and the synaesthetic contrast with the war atmospheres full of gunpowder and the cries of adventurers, becomes a very effective invention to moderate the spannung. A tension that derives from a renegotiation of the role traditionally attributed to consistencies and fragrance, to the semantic role that the category "food" brings with it, a change of perspective full of the sensitivity of the game.


De Gregori on the world of Rebecca Zen would say that:

Between buffalo and locomotive 

The difference is obvious 

The locomotive has a marked road

The buffalo may swerve to the side and fall

~ Ariele Bacchetti, 2024​



Rebecca Zen's solo exhibition

with critical text by Ariele Bacchetti

13.07 - 10.08.2024


Saturday 13th July at 5 pm

The exhibition is visible at LuogoArteContemporanea by appointment.

Free entry.

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