The Anagram & Palindromes Series, by the American-Italian artist Massimo Agostinelli (b.1987), is a sequence of colored mirrored “canvas” sheets imprinted in relief with iconic artistic and historical imagery. Agostinelli’s appropriation sweeps across the Western timeline, capturing allegories from Greek mythology and Renaissance painting, 20th Century politics, through to modern day popular culture.
Each cultural snapshot, perceptively selected, cropped and colored for its visual impact and wit, is branded with a unique anagram or palindromic phrase playing upon its individual subject. The relation between the boldly proclaimed text or re-ordered letters and its iconic image is animated by the viewer’s individual response to the expressive voice in the text, and the message created by the juxtaposition. Never quite an idiom, the phrases toe a line between poignant and cryptic, allowing clarity to both rule and slip out of reach; this precise quality between anagram or palindrome and image is extended by their mirrored composition to create a harmony across the mediums.
Each artwork, although unique in expression and emotional response, and vastly differing in original source, are brought together by composition, uniformity and historical significance. Displayed in series, the viewer moves between works that speak intensely to isolated and accentuated aspects of human nature, complete with polar contradictions: popular culture, good, evil, beauty, greed, hope and prejudice hang together in equal measure. In communication and effect, these compelling and richly allegorical artworks reinterpret the iconic themes of our heritage with a contemporary material and voice, referring back to the past whilst proclaiming their truth in the present.
“We know that all extremes eventually meet at a common point just like an anagram or palindrome illustrates, but what we don’t always know is how to find that essential balance. In my work I aim to depict connections, which are both historic and timeless, giving us a sense of continuity and progression.
The work symbolizes something different to each individual just as a mirrored reflection changes depending on who’s standing in front of it. The artist encourages viewers to physically move around in order to fully engage with the work – everyone is different and everyone has their own point of view. Seeing the art from different angles allows your eyes to naturally find their own place.”
Originally from New York, Massimo Agostinelli is an emerging American Italian contemporary artist, based between London and Zurich. Educated in Switzerland, he obtained his BA from Webster University (Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Art), before pursuing apprenticeships in printmaking at Alastair Lockhard in London, amongst others.
His works are found in public and private collections in Europe, North America and South Africa.