Andres Serrano | Sacred and Profane

© Andres Serrano, Pietà dalla serie Holy Works, 2011
© Andres Serrano, Pietà dalla serie Holy Works, 2011

curated by Enrico Stefanelli

in collaboration with Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris-Bruxelles
in collaboration with Galleria Pack, Milan

In order to embrace and understand the pictures of Andres Serrano, first of all we have to recognize the opportunity to go beyond what we see, stripping out any possible prejudice.
Serrano’s photography is a tool through which it is possible to redeem ourselves from taboos and social constraints, as well as to reflect on the presumed crisis of values of the contemporary society.
The best way to awaken the conscience is to offer visual and content-strong, irreverent, controversial choices. Some of the pictures of the American photographer upset and disgust, but, at the same time, they offer sublime and refined visions.
In the series Body fluids and Immersions (1985-90), Andres Serrano’s ideas are expressed through a simple and direct language, where elements of sacred iconography are profaned both conceptually – starting from the title – and materially, with the immersion in the artist’s body fluids. The works of these series legitimate a dialogue between the sacred and the profane, testing a new way of communication. Serrano can be considered an engraver of contemporary reality, which he describes as a combination of the atavistic human need to believe in the symbolic value of some objects and the widespread hypocrisy, where the sacredness of the cult is denied by the actions of real life, too involved in the redefinition of a reverse and sometimes perverse scale of values.
In 2011, with the series Holy works, Serrano strips it of the iconoclastic tones that characterized his previous works, moving towards a new interest in the sacred icons borrowed from Italian art of the XIV and XV centuries. In the works of this series we read the will to recover pictures that are traditionally recognizable to enhance their great communicative power.
Andrés Serrano represents the tragedy of the contemporary man torn between sacred needs and secular trends and does it consciously, through the medium that is most striking: the picture. “My works are clear. They talk about life, death, religion, sex. They do it in a direct way, but not brutal because I always try to make them refined.” (Andres Serrano)

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