CAGNARA at Public Gallery is the debut UK solo exhibition from Italian-French artistic duo Marroni-Ouanely. The exhibition unveils the artists’ latest body of work, characterised by their strict collaborative process where both artists simultaneously paint each canvas using their less dominant hand. This performative practice incorporates the idea of error; scratches and scribbles on canvases recall elements of failure, rendering a narrative of abstract imperfections.
Cagnara is an Italian word meaning a ‘noisy disturbance’, most often used to refer to a group of dogs barking. In this new series of paintings, Marroni-Ouanely capture this canine interaction in motion; the bodies intermingling, creating creatures with two heads, five legs, resulting in abstract totems, shapes and textures. This melee symbolises the creative process of the artists, comprising four hands as a single painter this unique exercise itself is a game of organised chaos.
Taking into account the playful dimension of their painting technique, both artists consider it like a ‘game’ where the levels of self-expression are enhanced and encouraged as if “all moves are allowed”. Aiming to expand their creative method, the two right-handed artists both use “their left hand in order to destabilize the technique, erase the know-how and thus leave the field open to their unconscious”.
Presented in alluring pale hues on the canvases’ surface, Marroni-Ouanely’s paintings bring up vivid and joyful compositions reminiscent of a playground atmosphere. The research and choice of material is an important part of the duo’s artistic vocabulary; inspired by the ‘Arte Povera’ movement they employ industrial materials such as neoprene or roller blinds instead of canvas. By using neoprene in a patchwork arrangement the artists not only enhance the lightness and playfulness within their work, but also create a subtle visual allegory to the comic strip panel.
Throughout these new paintings, Marroni-Ouanely not only aim to find the balance between chaos and control, but also between the experimental and accessible. Using likenesses from popular culture, cartoons and advertising from their childhood, the artists marry these nostalgic heroes with their own narrative and aesthetic bias. As the artists play together on the canvas they mirror their canine characters, embracing the abstract imperfections that take place.