Veronica Gelbaum

Holiday Hospital 

october 24th december 31st 2019

Via Posillipo 23, Napoli

City life however you find it. Rapidly walking through streets until you arrive at your building, then smiles are exchanged over wine and light chatter in the evening. Cliffs are covered with tiny lights after nightfall. 

Erstwhile, my eyes open and a serene room comes into view, faint rustling of bottles being organized. The sea gathers around the fortress in the distance. Still too weak to move, a kind hand blots my forehead with a clean piece of cotton. Any small kindness is a relief to those brought here. I am under your care. 

Veronica Gelbaum, 2019 

Holiday Hospital is a solo exhibition by LA based artist Veronica Gelbaum consisting of six new works. The artist often works on traditional sub-genres of painting, such as landscape, still life and pet portraiture. In the past she has also painted putti with the intention of focusing on themes and figures which were regarded as less important than the main religious or historical themes and narratives in classical paintings, and as such absorbed other meanings often related to psychology, class, and specific vernaculars connected to local traditions. In the exhibition at zaza’ portraits of cats (Ursula and Ermintude), a plate of butter pasta which could look like the kind of dish you find in an italian restaurant in Germany and a traditional czech dessert which happens to have inspired the neapolitan rhum babà are hung next to two larger landscapes. One of them references Camille Pissarro’s ‘Rue St.-Honore, Apres-Midi, Effet de Pluie’ painted in 1897 and more recently at the center of an international lawsuit which unsuccessfully demanded the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, established by the German steel industrialist of the same name who acquired it in the 1990s, to return it to the heirs of the Jewish family who owned the painting before the Nazis looted it. A view of a haussmannian boulevard in Paris painted by Pissarro in multiple versions, depicts the bourgeois and modern street life of the French capital, with its ordered procession of similarly dark hued get ups. The other landscape happens to echo the view from the window of the gallery, with the renaissance palazzo Don Anna, the gulf and the fortress of Castel dell’Ovo, a common subject of the ‘Scuola di Posillipo’, a 19th century group of painters which for a short while transformed the neighbourhood from a place of fisherman and aristocratic villas into a hotspot for the international boheme. In Holiday Hospital the apparent escapism of the subjects, and the ease with which they are rendered, conceal a conceptual practice which systematically hides under a layer of ‘cuteness’ her sometimes dark point of view on the present.