MOCA Pacific Design Center Honors "Disruptor" Artist Gaetano Pesce

Brian Forrest

Pesce's unconventional mixed-media explorations and manipulations of the human body are collected in major museums across the world.

Artist, architect and designer Gaetano Pesce was celebrated last night at MOCA Pacific Design Center with an exhibition opening and a private dinner at Lucques. The septuagenarian multi-disciplinary artist was fondly described as a “disruptor” by MOCA director Philippe Vergne later in the evening for his visceral, label-defying works of sculpture, furniture, vessels and paintings. Pesce told THR of his great appreciation for the controversial Italian writer/director Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose film works included The Decameron and A Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights): “He was a genius at creating environments, working in every media with great passion.”

Pesce made the trip from his adopted home of New York City to join a passionate group of collectors and patrons including screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, developer and film distributor Charles Cohen, designer Roman Alonso (Commune), designer Peter Dunham, architect Sharon Johnston, collector John Geresi, celebrity attorney and collector Alan Hergott, screenwriter Curt Shepard, Antonio Verde (Italian Consulate General) and Ovitz collection curator Nu Nguyen, among others.

Like an orgy in a wax museum, body parts and soft, rubbery surfaces abound in the exhibition “Gaetano Pesce Molds (Gelati Misti)” at MOCA Pacific Design Center. Skeens of poured resins depict torsos, legs and all manner of protuberances and interact with playful, tactile forms in a grown-up sort of Play-Doh extravaganza. Collector John Geresi, who worked with MOCA curator Bennett Simpson to put the show together, tried the patience of the security guards by enthusiastically showing viewers that the vases had a little “jiggle” to them when touched. It is a lucky artist that has a champion as passionate as Geresi, who lent a number of objects from his own collection to the exhibition.

Pesce has been pushing the boundaries of art, architecture and design for five decades. His unconventional mixed-media explorations and fearless manipulations of the human body are collected in major museums across the world, including MoMA; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs at the Louvre.  

An extreme example of Pesce’s ballsy experimentation is a an entryway designed for an upper Manhattan apartment building with realistic, outsize arms spreading a man’s hindquarters over the doorway. Though the defecatory stoop was never realized as intended, the concept was realized with Pesce’s assistance by artist Anthea Hamilton at Sculpture Center, New York in 2015. The work brings a whole new meaning to concept of ‘showing your ass’ in public. It is clear that this is not something Gaetano Pesce is afraid to do.

The exhibition “Gelati Misti” will be on view at MoCA Pacific Design Center until Nov. 27, 2016.  For more information visit the museum at www.moca.org.

Collector John Geresi and Gaetano Pesce. Photo by Casey Winkleman

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