4-29 April – fortyfivedownstairs

Curated by Mary Tokatlidis

Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs presents Cuorosensa: A Reverse Archaeology, a new exhibition by Marco Luccio opening on 4 April 2023.

Presenting another thought-provoking collection of mixed media works, Italian born international artist Marco Luccio returns to fortyfivedownstairs from 4 – 29 April with his latest exhibition Cuorosensa: A Reverse Archaeology.

Over fifteen years ago, Luccio began collecting used postcards from New York City flea markets and curio shops when he was a resident at the top of the Chrysler building (notably, the only other artist to have had a studio in the iconic landmark is esteemed Life photographer, Margaret Bourke-White). Impressed by the card’s evocative nostalgia and intimacy, they were, according to Luccio, “beautiful artefacts, remnants of the past preserved in small and fragile time capsules”. That sentiment was reflected in Luccio’s wonderful collection of small-scale works, New York Postcards (2019). In Cuorosensa we see an evolution into something much larger in scale, both in size and substance.
In Cuorosensa, the artist’s bold, energetic and confident mark-making coheres into recognisable Luccio-esque themes — we see his Eiffel Tower, his Trojan Horse, his meditations on the myths and figures of classical antiquity — but closer inspection reveals a canvas of interlocking postcards with tantalising glimpses of the messages they once conveyed. When their contents are obscured completely by Luccio’s paint and ink, the postcards form something of an edifice, brick-like in their arrangement, transformed from something fragile to bedrock.

Archaeologists are known for digging down to gain insight into the daily lives of individuals who once constituted whole civilisations; in Cuorosensa this is reversed. Here the presumptive ephemera of material culture becomes the base upon which layers of bigger and vaster gestures are built. We see the expansive concept of civilisation layered over the intimate concept of community, and it is unexpectedly coherent. This forces questions upon the viewer. Perhaps these small acts of practical sentimentality are what is really hidden in the Trojan Horse. What really propels the march of history, of destruction and creation? Perhaps the idea of a blank canvas is its own myth, an attempt to obliterate the foundation of community in favour of the fiction of self-contained individuality.

Cuorosensa: A Reverse Archaeology delivers a cracking blow to concepts we like to contain within neat boundaries. Is Luccio’s formal ‘vandalism’ of these postcards their ultimate preservation? Is play (in this case with postcards) the prime catalyst for serious and meaningful work? Even the exhibition’s title plays with these themes: cuorosensa— a fanciful word fashioned to slide off the tongue and evoke its Latin roots of heart and feeling—combined with the conjuring up of a discipline; a regime of serious study, fired by applied curiosity.

As we move through a period of global upheaval, there has never been a better time to ask and explore the questions raised in Luccio’s Cuorosensa: A Reverse Archaeology. But, perhaps most importantly, the works in their entirety press upon us a profound open question: who knows what will become of our own heartfelt acts, if only we take the time and energy to produce them?



Want to do a drawing class with Marco Luccio?