Vivarium

Elena Ceretti Stein

September 17 - October 22, 2022

Elena Ceretti Stein’s first solo exhibition at Braverman Gallery, Vivarium, is the outcome of two years of research. The room is transformed into a chamber of collected wonders and secrets, where objects, paintings, mosaics and organic life are spread around to create a new ecosystem in which past and present, culture and nature, life and death intertwine. 

The exhibition combines into one installation 14 squared oil paintings, a marble mosaic, two brass sculptures, four painted tambourines, a ceramic torso with wildflowers, a ceramic head of Venus in water, a wall fresco and a double-sided oil painting on wood with a mirror.

The space almost feels abandoned, or newly rediscovered, as if someone has accumulated treasures in it for a long time, and then left them there, maybe as a code to be deciphered. It embodies symbols and rituals waiting to unveil a secret.

In her practice, Ceretti Stein investigates the relationship between the seen and the unseen, the deep thread that connects scientific and magical thinking. Borrowing from classical artistic tradition, she is rethinking the way in which visual culture embeds secrets, information, and narratives, revealing ideas through ancient methodologies. She is fascinated by how the DNA of history and iconography can be repurposed to discuss a holistic view of Earth that connects all living things, including more-than-human perspectives. Elena strives to achieve an interdisciplinary body of work that is transformative: her work somehow merges the very objective and the intimately subjective, turning objects, myths and rituals into living things that are equally corporeal and conceptual.

Italian history of art is full of enigmas and mystery. Some secret fraternal organizations used to encode their symbols diligently to avoid censorship from the state and religious institutions alike. From North to South, cathedrals, crypts and sacred sites are often the chest of deeper messages of an alchemical symbolism. This language goes beyond religion, into the exploration of nature and truth, common to all humanity across all continents: mysticism is universal.

Likewise, Vivarium (“a place of life” in Latin) hides signs that connect personal and biographical memories to collective imaginaries, especially related to the history of art and to Italian culture. In this context, Ceretti Stein acts as an alchemist by layering and merging different memories and materials in an attempt to translate the inaccessible into the accessible – and vice versa. 

Elena Ceretti Stein (b. 1989) is an Italian-Israeli multidisciplinary artist based in Tel Aviv. Born in Milan, Italy, she studied in London, where she graduated from the University of the Arts with a BA in Cultural Studies, continuing to research Biological Anthropology before migrating to Israel and fully dedicating herself to contemporary art. She completed her MFA in Bezalel in 2022.

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Elena Ceretti Stein, Vivarium, 2022, Installation view at Braverman Gallery. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Vivarium, 2022, Installation view at Braverman Gallery. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Vivarium, 2022, Installation view at Braverman Gallery. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 6 (After Durer), 2022, Oil on canvas, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 10 (gold), 2022, Oil on canvas, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 4 (Fortuny), 2022, Oil on canvas, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 2 (Messner), 2022, Oil on canvas, gold leaf, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 12 (flame), 2022, Oil on canvas, gold leaf, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 8 (After Botticelli), 2022, Oil on canvas, gold leaf, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 7 (After Fra Angelico), 2022, Oil on canvas, gold leaf, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 9 (Babylon), 2022, Oil on canvas, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 3 (Bergamo), 2022, Oil on canvas, gold leaf, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 11 (copper), 2022, Oil on canvas, gold leaf, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, View 5 (After Van Eyck), 2022, Oil on canvas, gold leaf, 40x40 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Three Tigers, 2022 Mosaic on wood panel, marble, sand, lime, marble powder, 170 x 280 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Tambourine 1 (after Sarah Goodridge), 2022. Oil on cow’s skin, wood, mother of pearl, tin, glue, dia 17 cm

Elena Ceretti Stein, Tambourine 2 (eye), 2022. Oil on cow’s skin, wood, mother of pearl, tin, glue. dia 13 cm

Elena Ceretti Stein, The Sun, 2022, Bronze, glass, fungi, bacteria, epoxy, pigment, crystal, 66 x 30 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Hand of Saint, 2022, Bronze, glass, mirror, metal jewelry, amber crystal, acrylic, 27 x 14 x 8 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Hand of Saint, 2022, Bronze, glass, mirror, metal jewelry, amber crystal, acrylic, 27 x 14 x 8 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, The Shell, 2022, Oil painting on shell, 9 x 7 x 4 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Double painting (Self-portrait after Rogier van der Weyden and Noé León), 2022, Oil on wood, mirror, 40 x 30 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Venus in water, 2022. Clay, water, sand, perspex, glass, algae, bacteria, 120x25x25 cm. Photo by Daniel Hanoch

Elena Ceretti Stein, Double painting (Self-portrait after Rogier van der Weyden and Noé León), 2022, Oil on wood, mirror, 40 x 30 cm

Elena Ceretti Stein, Double painting (Self-portrait after Rogier van der Weyden and Noé León), 2022, Oil on wood, mirror, 40 x 30 cm

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