On the occasion of Conversation Piece at Fondazione Memmo in Roma, Apolonia Sokol (b. Paris, France, 1988) has created
a monumental painting inspired by the Ship of Fools populated by all the women she portrayed ver the past decade. It represents a boat filled with figures, which
recalls Dürer’s engravings in the first edition of Das Narrenschiff, as well as referring to the
broader figurative tradition of the representation of ships and shipwrecks – some of which
were illustrations of Brant’s text – ranging from Hieronymus Bosch to Théodore Gericault.
The sitters in Sokol’s painting are portrayed and arranged according to paradigms deriving
from the history of art, but they are people who belong to the modern world: a “population”
of artist’s friends, acquaintances and loved ones, who pose questions about gender and sexual
orientations, updating the references to the artistic tradition by inviting us to explore some
pressing contemporary issues. The curving base and support of the painting is a particular
convex structure made in collaboration with the workshop of Fausto Cantagalli in Rome, and
this unusual shape has some visual and conceptual aspects linked to the history of painting
and to the idea of presenting a “distorted” vision of the artwork.
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