This exhibition, supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, showed the work of thirty-five selected contemporary British artists who have been awarded scholarships at the British School at Rome over the past decade.
‘Why Rome?’ is the question all candidates for the Rome scholarships are asked during their interviews. Almost all the candidates have a precise answer to this question, be it Arte Povera, the ‘dolce vita’ or the wealth of artistic heritage in the city’s museums, churches and monuments. All the works exhibited were either realised during the artists’ stay in Rome or as a direct consequence of it, and they have given shape to their Roman and Italian experience in a wide variety of media.
John Riddy and Richard Billingham both explored quintessentially Roman images in their stunning black and white photographs Colosseum and Trajan’s Markets. Smith/Stewart created a three-minute colour film entitled Lovers, Rome, whilst Marion Coutt’s colour film follows four human bearers as they process through the streets of Rome carrying a life-size model of a horse.
Kit Wise’s Marmor (after Bernini) presented a novel reinterpretation of Bernini’s renowned Ecstasy of St Teresa, whilst Adam Chodzko’s installation recorded his attempt to reunite the actors from Salo, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s violently disturbing film about the last days of Fascism.
In their widely differing ways, all these works bear witness to the unfathomable allure and wealth of Rome. The exhibition illustrated how the traditional Grand Tour evolved into a lively, contemporary experience, and how diversity in the practice of and approach to visual art is encouraged and facilitated at the British School at Rome.