Magical Mystery Tour

exhibition review by Katie Wilson

When I first stumbled into Andrea Salvatori’s exhibition Uncanny Fairy Tales in the F_AIR gallery, I felt as though I had been transported to a magical new world. The plain gallery had been transformed into a treasure trove, full of glistening objects, each with its own story to tell. A porcelain bulldog, completely covered in small ceramic cubes, greeted me at the door. A ballerina danced in the corner of the room with a star shooting from her eye. The moon, squeezed into a cube shape, sat in the back of the room. And from the room next door, an eerie, tinkling sort of music played, adding to the ambiance.

Salvatori describes his work as “a journey that is imaginative and flooring, surreal and ironic, where ceramic sculptures constitute the stories of a plot in which nothing is what it seems and where shapes and images are manipulated and reconfigured to declare the existence of a pluralized, ever-changing reality.” But what an artist has to say about his or her work is only half the story. The viewer has to bring his or her own experiences, perspectives, and unique interpretation to the work as well. For some, the use of geometric shapes told a story of breaking reality down, simplifying it into its separate parts, while still retaining enough detail to see it for what it was. Some people saw all the pieces as connected in one continuous story line, while others saw each piece as its own fairy tale. As my friends and I discussed each work of art, we each had something different to bring to the table. I saw the ballerina as a woman at the end of her career, used up, broken, who was suddenly struck by the brilliance of her future and the new opportunities in front of her. One of my friends interpreted it differently, seeing the starburst as a violent entity, stabbing through the ballerina’s delicate form.

So what exactly are these uncanny fairy tales that Salvatori tells? I will leave that up to you. Go see the exhibit for yourself, and make sure to bring your own personal experiences, as well as an open mind. You may be surprised by what you’ll discover, both about the work and about yourself.

All photographs are by Anne Saint Ange.