Giovanni Ozzola: For a little while | Galleria Continua

Giovanni Ozzola lives and works in the Canary Islands: a small place that’s constantly under attack from the Atlantic Ocean all around. Walking through this show of his, spread out over several rooms of the large Galleria Continua space in Paris, I could practically taste the salt water.

The artist’s eye is constantly caught by the damage these huge natural forces wreak on the man made. Hence photos like the one below, staring out at the sea through the window of a concrete bunker, walls blasted by erosion, the fragile graffiti marks left by people seemingly disappearing before our eyes.

Giovanni Ozzola ‘In volo senza ali’ (2020) In volo senza ali (2020)

Ozzola hits this theme again with a couple of sculptural works, in which he took impressions of these same bunker walls, preserving the marks of man for a little while longer, saving them from the sea air. Specifically, he used strappo, a technique artisans have used for centuries to remove frescoes from church walls and preserve them on canvas.

Giovanni Ozzola ‘South wall’ (2018) South wall (2018)

The words of the original graffiti, scratched into concrete, were lost to me at least. First, they’re rendered backwards due to the transfer process. Second, they’re in another language. Third, the sea had already begun to do its work before Ozzola got to them, eroding them from the wall, making them feint.

But even I understood the heart shapes - there are loads of them in the work pictured above. I guess lovers snuck away to the bunkers sometimes, or someone scratched the name of someone they fancied on the wall, inside a heart, sometimes with a Cupid’s arrow.

Left there one day, gone the next, with the relentless indifferent sea doing the rest.

Giovanni Ozzola: For a little while is at Galleria Continua (Paris). 14 April - 14 June 2023