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The dinosaur in the room

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A response to Time is Out of Joint at The National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome

Amidst Auguste Rodin’s watercolours of bathing nudes sits a spine. Slithering its way around the room, the highest vertebrae of Pino Pascali’s 1966 sculpture, Ricostruzione del dinosaur, peaks in front of an untitled 1985 work by Gino de Dominicis, a drawing of two curvaceous lovers in repose. A long, pointed blue shape rests on an upturned finger, cutting through the moment of tranquillity. The defining lines of the bodies arc through the drawing, encouraging the eye to follow the concavities of bone along the floor - until one is forced to step back. From afar, the pale, organic forms of the skeleton can be seen echoed in the exaggerated forms of the couple.

In a palatial gallery among internationally renowned artists, these two pieces by Italian artists sit quietly, seemingly awaiting their discovery. Surrounded by works of a corporeal theme, in one of the smaller halls, they are almost camouflaged by the interior architecture’s colour palette of neutrals and white. The wood board and frame that de Dominicis’ figures emerge from are the same warm tone as the parquetry floors on which the sculpture sits. The pale, drawn hand resembles the ivory of the canvas, stretched taut over the wire supports that create Pascali’s dinosaur. Viewing these works together, one encounters ideas of companionship and solitude, ephemerality of the body, remembrance. Created more than twenty years apart, both works capture and immortalise a moment, a life, a body (or two).

The National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome, has stated that Time is Out of Joint deals with “the final abandonment of any historical linearity for a vision that unfolds on a synchronic level”. The exhibition disrupts the canon of Western Art and the instilled importance of chronology in the art world. Pascali’s sculpture and De Dominicis’ drawing are activated and reinterpreted by one another. The subtle, unexpected reverberations between the works and the ideas they hold are timeless.