Cherubino Gambardella

Cherubino Gambardella, “Supernapoli”, 2014 (detail). Gift of the artist. Collection Madre · museo d’arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Napoli.

Architect and designer, Cherubino Gambardella (Naples, 1962) is the author of numerous publications, projects and exhibitions, including the 2013 CUT’n Paste, a group exhibition on drawing and collage by the new protagonists of contemporary architecture at the MoMA-Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the personal exhibitions/projects Magic Neorealism (Madre, Naples, 2009) and Plastic Village. The imperfect boundary between architecture and design (Fondazione Plart, Naples, 2015-16). In 2016 he was invited to participate in the Milan Triennale in the two exhibitions Rooms. Other philosophies of living, in collaboration with the Salone del Mobile in Milan, and The logic of approximation, in art and life. His works have been published in some of the most important international journals of art and architecture, as well as in the monographic volume e Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary Architec re.

Gambardella sees Naples not only as a city known around the world: it is primarily a city whose bodily substance is disharmonious and seductive, whose attraction appears both evident and inscrutable. In the articulation of its compositional structures and mythopoetic ability, which impregnates its human, cultural and geographical features, Gambardella see Naples as both a real and intangible city, that releases and reveals something indefinite, despite its undeniable and recurrent presence. Naples is not just an urban body, but a “superbody”/“underbody”, which also preserves within it ideal substances and invisible features, a story in images of events that amplify its concrete image, transforming it into a metropolis articulated on a variety of levels of experience and narrative. And if every city is a constellation of these different experiences and stories that dwell in it, they are stratified over time and solidified, finally, in its architecture. For this reason the form of the city of Naples becomes a possible basis on which to base its imaginary and hypothetical duplication…

“And so, suddenly, Supernapoli is born, the unconscious settlement, the superimposed city, the metropolis that moves in and out of the body that houses it. Everything to prevent the reality from establishing a supremacy over the mind, restoring to utopia its right to exist as a democratic practice in everyday thinking” (Cherubino Gambardella). Supernapoli is imaginatively, phantasmally overlaid on the real urban structure of Naples, not so much in order to repair old wounds politically, sociologically or rationally as to ideally redevelop the living body of the city, engrafting onto it new fragments built by proposing cuts and clearances in its dense residential and productive fabric or by introducing reforested areas in its degraded parts, like the city to the East and West, with the old abandoned steel mill at Bagnoli. In their tactile and sculptural character, Gambardella’s visions follow each other almost as if to make surreality or subreality possible and desirable, from the bent plates for the collection of rain water and the tubs of vegetation that resuscitate compromised lands, equipped with photovoltaic systems for clean energy, to connections that rise above the swarming life in the Spanish Quarter, or Forcella neighborhood rendered sparse and developed into an unusual verticality, all the way to the Vele of Scampia freed from their balconies, instead of which there arise new lines that travel between monumental green spaces.

In this way Supernapoli becomes a volume that relates the phases of the process and the project figures and also a double gallery of paintings, exhibited during its fulfilment live, at the Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2014, and then at the Milan Triennale in 2015. In the context of the project Per_forming a collection. For an art archive in CampaniaSupernapoli returns to its hometown, finding a permanent location, as a fantastic invitation and intellectual stimulation, in the collection of the Madre museum. So confirming the performative nature, agitated and volatile, shared and community, relational and dialogical, of the Neapolitan museum’s collection of contemporary art, which seeks to probe, explore, document and bring into action energies that are also unorthodox as well as linguistic, disciplinary and methodological deviations, which in this case restore to circulation and in prospect the relationship between architecture and art, between the real city and the utopian city.

[Andrea Viliani]

Supernapoli, 2014

Currently not on view

Gift of the artist. Collection Madre · museo d'arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Napoli. Photo © Peppe Maisto.

Supernapoli, 2014 (detail)

Currently not on view

Gift of the artist. Collection Madre · museo d'arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Napoli.