The Great American Songbook
10/02/24 - 01/03/24






A Solo Exhibition by Filippo Cegani
09.09.23 - 20.10.23
GROVE London
9B Battersea Sq., SW11 3RA, London, UK

Opening: Saturday, September 9th, 4-8 pm

GROVE is excited to present Grazie, an solo exhibition by Filippo Cegani, running from September 9th to October 20th, 2023. This is Cegani’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.

The story of Grazie begins with a double meaning. The word Grazie, understood to even most non-Italian speakers, means “thank you.” But it also means “grace,” and by extension, the Graces, otherwise known as the Charites – three goddesses in Greek Mythology thought to embody beauty – are known as “le Grazie.” Consequently, this simple word springs a matrix that encapsulates Cegani’s new body of work. Beauty, vectored through the religious icons of Cegani’s native Italy, becomes realised in images of the Virgin Mary, while the artist still appeals to a universalism underscored by his classical allusions. Likewise, notions of gratitude find a natural referent in religious iconography; whether explicitly religious or not, these images function as valuable vessels for our own thankfulness.

What’s more, the grace to which Cegani refers highlights a gentle tonality prevalent throughout the exhibition. In a development from much of his previous work, the artist trades in his often humorous, at times absurd imagery for a visual quietude that inspires reflection. Cegani himself has referred to this development as a “gentleness” that pervades the work, without acting as a true divergence from the aesthetic he has cultivated throughout the course of his career. In order to accentuate this, the exhibition will be lit by candlelight alone, which is also a further reference to the Italian churches in which this kind of image may be found.

With that said, the series of work is not without its own humour. Cegani slyly references the commodification of religious iconography, using a combination of brushstrokes and airbrush to achieve and almost porcelain finish, akin to porcelain figurines people will use to furnish their homes. Similarly, he positions the Virgin Mary in the context of personal benefit: Cegani notes that, in Italy, one will pray to a tomb in hope for a response (a practice known as culto delle anime pezzentelle; originating in the 1600s, but officially outlawed by the Catholic Church in 1969), but if a satisfactory response is not granted, one “blacklists” this grave for being less than generous. Such is the nature of these “vessels”: our gratitude directed toward them is not a far cry from our request for more, in which the real efficacy, and thus value, of the image will be seen.

For GROVE, Grazie offers an opportunity to continue a relationship with Cegani, an artist who has figured heavily into recent programming. Excited to continue this collaborative partnership, the gallery is excited to play host to this new development, and eagerly awaits its next instalment.