Antonio Riello

Antonio Riello Confined Objects

Antonio Riello, Confined Tool 21, 2020f

Antonio Riello  CONFINED TOOL 87    blue BIC ink on paper   42 x 29.7cm

Private View : Friday 21 January 2022  2 - 8pm in the presence of the artist
By appointment only - please contact

The exhibition continues until Saturday 5 March 2022

The gallery is immensely pleased to be able to present a selection of works by the Italian artist Antonio Riello.

His solo show will focus on an on-going series of biro drawings started during the lockdown in Italy, but will also include Ashes to Ashes, a series of bespoke glass vessels containing the ashes of the artist’s beloved books.

Riello’s lockdown drawings, Confined Tools, are a very personal and tormented form of reportage of a kitchenscape. During these weird times the artist started an obsessive production of a catalogue of his kitchen tools and food: just humble sketches, but together these might be considered tantamount to a lockdown visual dictionary; a sort of late-modern encyclopaedia (currently 347 tools have been classified). This has now become a work in progress; a taxonomic classification of every creature ‘living’ in the artist’s domestic environment.

Riello has turned himself into an 18th Century style explorer re-discovering his familiar indoor spaces like if they were pristine unknown exotic islands. This evidently Linnean attitude echoes Riello’s passion for Mark Dion’s research. The aim is to set an anthropological museum of culinary ergonomy and domestic cruelty.

All the drawings are made using blue ink ball point pen (BIC) - the same kind Alighiero Boetti loved to use so much - and humble paper. The artist does believe that we need very ordinary tools to be able to imagine and live very extraordinary adventures.

More recently Riello started to expand his exploration to other parts of his domestic spaces, classifying many other objects in his flat. Discomfort, fury, irony, defiance are the main features of these new still life drawings. They portrait family dramas, maybe small but for sure real. They also represent a devoted and unconventional homage to Giorgio Morandi. A broad spectrum of different objects have been invited as sitters. Some hidden features (almost metaphysical) of everyday life are somehow detectable and one could even spot, here and there, a sort of dark energy amongst the intricate biro lines and doodles. Nothing is so dangerously wild than the quiet normality.

In Ashes to Ashes, the artist ceremonially burns some of his loved and influential books, reducing them to illegible ashes. The ashes of every book are then encapsulated in their own bespoke glass urn, designed and made by the artist in the same way the Middle Ages holy relics were protected and preserved. Each urn (made of borosilicium glass) is properly printed with the book name and author, year of first publication and year of destruction: a virtual library, a book cemetery, a devote homage, a respectful funeral celebration of the printed books and libraries.

A commissioned essay by Huma Kabakci, curator and director of Open Space, will be available during the show and here as a PDF.

Born under the sign of Lion in 1958, Antonio Riello is an eclectic, visionary and controversial artist, working in techniques as varied as drawing, sculpture, design, photography, installation and videogames. Incorporating the ironic manner of a conceptual charade, Riello manipulates and almost mistreats the images and objects which he invents. He is strongly committed to ‘explore’ the paradoxical features of domestic environments.

Recent solo exhibitions include: 2019 Solo Riello, Kanalidarte Gallery, Brescia; 2018 Museomania #8, Museo Civico Bassano, Bassano DG 2017 Ne’ Capo Ne’ Coda, Galleria LABS, Bologna; 2016 Ex Voto, Museo Civico Bassano, Bassano DG; Libricida, Galleria Paolo Tonin, Torino. Selected group exhibitions include: 2021 Glasstress Hermitage, Hermitage State Museum, St Petersburg; 2020 DRIVE-IN, BelleArti Generali Ass, Brescia; 25 Years, Danielle Arnaud, London; 2019 Glasstress2019, Fondazione Berengo, Venice; 2018 Verticality, Rosenfeld Gallery, London; 2017 Biennale Di Venezia - Modus, Venice; 2015 No Place to Hide, Galleria Civica Monfalcone, Monfalcone; 2014 Chanakkale Biennale, Istanbul and Chanakkale; They Used to Call It the Moon, Baltic, Gateshead.