Online Visiting Artist Lecture by Dr. Giovanni Aloi
When: Tuesday, September 29 at 7 p.m.
Where: via Zoom https://illinoisstate.zoom.us/j/95168210899
Artist website: https://www.saic.edu/profiles/faculty/giovanni-aloi
Image: Lucien Freud, Interior with Plant Reflection, Listening (Self-Portrait), 1967-68. Oil on canvas. 48 x 48 inches. Private Collection.
This lecture is organized by the Wonsook Kim School of Art Visiting Artists Program.
Lucian Freud: Plants, Painting, and Silence
Potted plants populate many of the most memorable, and yet overlooked, paintings by British artist Lucian Freud. In Interior with Plant, Reflection Listening (Self-Portrait) the lush foliage of a potted variegated pandanus (Pandanus baptistii) dominates the foreground. On the left-top corner, fading into the background is a self-portrait of a shirtless Freud; his ear cupped, his eyes shut. This resolutely non-anthropocentric representation of a domestic plant, counterpointed by the nudity of the artist and his gesture evoking an acoustic dimension through the silence of painting, raises important considerations on our relationships with plants and painting in the context of human perceptual certainties. Most of us have a potted plant that has been with us through thick and thin, surviving our forgetfulness. In our home, a plant’s silent, dependent, constant, and seemingly impartial presence can make for a special kind of companion; the keeper of our secrets, passions, desires, fears, and hopes. Akin to a wise old friend who is keen to listen but knows better than to speak, the pandanus in Freud’s painting glows with an unprecedented kind of botanical agency.
Dr. Giovanni Aloi is an author, educator, and curator specializing in environmental subjects and the representation of nature in art. He has published with Columbia University Press, Phaidon, Laurence King, and Prestel and is co-editor of the University of Minnesota series Art after Nature. Since 2006, Aloi has been the Editor in Chief of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture. He is the author of Art & Animals (2011) and Speculative Taxidermy: Natural History, Animal Surfaces, and Art in the Anthropocene (2018), Why Look at Plants? – The Vegetal World in Contemporary Art (2019) and Lucian Freud Herbarium (2019). In 2017 Aloi was appointed co-editor of the Art after Nature series published by the University of Minnesota Press. He is a radio contributor and a regular public speaker at the Art Institute of Chicago and has curated exhibitions including photography, digital, and time-based media. Aloi currently lectures on modern and contemporary art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York and London.