Marroni-Ouanely playful performances teach us to fail, at PUBLIC Gallery

The Italian-French duo Marroni-Ouanely’s debut UK solo exhibition at PUBLIC Gallery is full of unorthodox imperfections. Sit back, smile, and enjoy.

CAGNARA unveils the Italian-French duo’s latest body of work, exemplifying their mind-body connections. Following their first encounter in Paris, together they started to draw and document their experiences and surroundings, with the intent of portraying their here and now. The two artists follow a strict collaborative process whereby they simultaneously paint the canvases using their less dominant hand. This implies a strong margin of potential error which, rather than being negated, is negotiated into a narrative of abstract imperfections. Their performative practice incorporates the idea of error, scratches, and scribbles on canvases, embracing elements of failure. Finally.


History of Fun IV, 2018

Their performative slips create a kind of chaos, an unexpected and at times childish vibe. Cagnara is an Italian word meaning a ‘noisy disturbance’, used to describe the typical Southern Italian grandmas shouting in the streets, or referring to a group of dogs barking or to . In this new series of paintings, Marroni-Ouanely capture this canine interaction in motion; the bodies intermingling, creating creatures with two heads, five legs, resulting in abstract totems, shapes and textures. This melee symbolises the creative process of the artists, comprising four hands as a single painter this unique exercise itself is a game of organised chaos.


Au Parc II, 2018

Taking into account the playful dimension of their painting technique, both artists consider it like a ‘game’ where the levels of self-expression are enhanced and encouraged as if “all moves are allowed”. Aiming to expand their creative method, the two right-handed artists both use “their left hand in order to destabilize the technique, erase the know-how and thus leave the field open to their unconscious”.


M_ORTADELLA N°9, 2019

Presented in alluring pale hues on the canvases’ surface, Marroni-Ouanely’s paintings bring up vivid and joyful compositions reminiscent of a playground atmosphere. The research and choice of material is an important part of the duo’s artistic vocabulary. ‘Arte Povera’ clearly paved the way in Italy for the use of industrial and organic materials such as neoprene or leaves. Marroni-Ouanely absorbed this legacy, using materials like neoprene in a patchwork arrangement. By doing so, the artists not only enhance the lightness and playfulness within their work, but also create a subtle visual allegory to the comic strip panel.

Grande Patte, 2018

Throughout these new paintings, Marroni-Ouanely not only aim to find the balance between chaos and control, but also between the experimental and accessible. Using likenesses from popular culture, cartoons and advertising from their childhood, they marry these nostalgic heroes with their own narrative and aesthetic bias. As the artists play together on the canvas they mirror their canine characters, embracing the abstract imperfections that take place.

PUBLIC Gallery, 6th February – 2nd March

About Irene Machetti

Whenever there is an exhibition opening, expect to find me there, with a glass of wine in one hand, and my phone on the other, to take pictures and record my emotions. The rest of my life is spent studying art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and, especially, baking cakes and lasagne for my loved ones.