We are thrilled to share the solo exhibition by the Romano twins, Nil & Karin Romano, titled "I watch you from my tragic isolation", curated by Sari Paran, now on view at the Tel Aviv Artists House until May 15, 2023.
This exhibition features a range of hybrid images that draw from nightmare, erotic fantasy, and occult vision, with each piece produced with precocious virtuosity and rich colors rendered in expressive brush strokes.
Don't miss this opportunity to experience the Romano twins' complex artistic world-view in person.
Rooted in nightmare, erotic fantasy, and occult vision, the complex artistic world-view of twins Nil and Karin Romano is woven from an astonishing range of hybrid images.
Each one is produced with precocious virtuosity, employing rich colours rendered in expressive brush strokes that not only lend the finished works a powerful volume and texture, but also an immediacy that is both disturbing and compelling.
Nil and Karin completely immerse themselves in the intense, Sisyphean labour necessary to realise the images, visions, and fantasies emanating from their shared subconscious onto canvas.
Cut off from the outside world in their small Tel Aviv appartment (which also doubles as a studio), they work in an unnerving symbiosis, pooling their memories of club basements, bars, and gaming halls; filtering them through dark dreamscapes to create scenes that constantly surprise, not only with the skill of their execution but also with the breadth and depth of cinematic and literary reference on display.
Shot through with the tropes of sado-masochism and imbued with an almost overwhelming sexuality, theirs is a visual language saturated with pain and pleasure, constantly poised on the knife-edge between sublimity and offensiveness.
Perhaps the concept of heterotopia, elaborated by the contemporary French philosopher Michel Foucault to indicate a space where ‘the exceptional’ is allowed to flourish (while emphasising its difference in relation to ‘the standardized’, or ‘the normal’ which underlies it and with which it corresponds), comes closest to providing a philosphical compass for navigating the twin’s output.
It is in this firmament, exploring the idiosyncratic and the uniquely strange, that their star shines brightest.
Sometimes accompanied by queer or androgynous characters, or other figures from the margins of society, their creations twist around the canvas in hybrid composition, as diabolical cats, human lizards, and spider-webs of vegetation are spliced together in monstrous detail in front of our eyes.
Eclectic architecture from different historical periods and styles abounds, providing a structured backdrop for the grotesquely swollen forms which periodically collide and coalesce.
Organic and inorganic, male and female, are thus surrounded by geometric architectural forms and caught in a mesh of lines and surfaces. Full of colour and detail, this matrix closes them in to the point of suffocation, filling the space from end to end as if horrified by the idea of empty canvas.
Out of this chaos and confusion is born a spectacle that evokes the carnivalesque observational style of Fellini, where horror and beauty are inseparably intertwined.
It is a circus at once human and animalistic, grotesque and cynical, that sketches a metaphorical self-portrait of the twins, ironic, and constantly shifting according to the artistic styles they bring to the ring. Indeed, their deliberate disregard for proportion and perspective, their use of superimposed images in vibrant and intense colours, coupled with multiple overlaid detail that evokes embroidered and woven fabric, associates them more with the outsider art movement than other better defined cultural formulations.
Otherness and tragic loneliness have accompanied Nil and Karin Romano from a young age. These feelings only grow stronger with the years and are projected through their paintings.
Their work speaks of a yearning for independent relationships, for the free and unabridged expression of individual sexuality, and for a rich and full social life, yet ultimately the focus always returns to the comforting, addictive-yet-suffocating bond of their shared loneliness, expressed through the almost mystical relationship they experience as twins, the influence of which runs like a silken thread through their entire output.
"We strive to create unique art that deals with the layers of the human soul, using motifs of chaos, ritual, nihilism and intimate and queer relationships. All are feelings and situations from our own lives.''
As outsider artists, the Romanos have no problem exposing themselves in a vulnerable and highly emotional way.
Their work allows us an almost pornographic glimpse into their private mythologies on powerful canvases that are as likely to shock as to thrill, yet which always give the figure of the dominant and powerful woman pride of place.
Images and text courtesy the artists
Text Trans: Dr Peter Simpson
Images by @leighlaphoto