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“The Shape of Gold”, Emiliano Maggi, “Horned Vessel”, 2021; “Horned Mirror”, 2021; “Golden Worn”, 2020

11 Feb 2021 - 9 Mar 2021

Emiliano Maggi


Horned Vessel, 2021
luster on glazed ceramic
48 x 45 x 29 cm


Horned Mirror, 2021
luster on glazed ceramic, acid-etched mirror
mirror ⌀ 78.5 cm, ceramic 40 x 40 x 15 cm


Golden Worn, 2020
glazed ceramic, acid-etched mirror
mirror ⌀ 78.5 cm, ceramic 49 x 40 x 8 cm


BUILDINGBOX dedicates the 2021 season to the theme of gold in contemporary art with the annual exhibition project The Shape of Gold curated by Melania Rossi. The exhibition aims to offer an overview of the use of gold in contemporary artistic research by presenting the works of twelve artists who allude or use the noble metal in different ways and practices. The installations will be visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the window in via Monte di Pietà 23.


The second artist, featured from February 11th to March 9th, 2021, is Emiliano Maggi (Rome, 1977) who will be presenting three new works specifically created for BUILDINGBOX.

With a production that ranges from sculpture to performance, music and painting, Emiliano Maggi has created a personal universe populated by characters that lie midway between fairytale and horror.

The artist draws inspiration from nature and its free, instinctive vital energies, and also from the libertine erotica of the nineteenth-century, to create works with psychedelic, mythological overtones. Ceramics are his privileged medium, and he uses pastel, almost pearlized hues, that accentuate the dreamy atmospheres of the works. The sensuality of his sculptures is heightened by the glossy finish, which adds a tremulous, vibrant, delicate feel. Fascinated by the fusion of animal and human, Maggi delves into the imagery of fairytales, 1970s horror and the rural world, creating captivating, unsettling atmospheres that open up to the dark side and its grotesque aesthetic.

The three ceramic works produced specifically for The Shape of Gold – Horned Vessel, Horned Mirror and Gold Worn – see the use of golden luster, as if to highlight the satyr’s sinuous horns, the curvy, animalesque shapes of the three objects. The gold-colored mirror looks like it has the power to transport us into a fantasy world of the artist’s invention, suspended between past and future. There is something both romantic and disturbing in these works, that evoke the gilded embellishments of a futuristic Baroque, in which decadence and beauty are inseparable.

For 2021 season BUILDINGBOX is presenting The Shape of Gold, an exhibition consisting of twelve monthly appointments curated by Melania Rossi.

The show sets out to offer a broad overview of the use of gold in contemporary art, with twelve installations that reference the “king of metal” using different media and techniques.


Called “the flesh of the Gods” by the ancient Egyptians, and symbolizing discord in Greek mythology, in the Christian world gold became both an emblem of divine manifestation and an incarnation of earthly vanity and human vices.

One thing is clear: through the centuries, this natural element has maintained its lofty expressive value in both religious and secular settings. In visual art, gold has gathered a host of metaphors that go from the divine to the diabolic, from spiritual to material, from perfection to corruption. Its symbolic power even extends to allusions to absence, the denial of space/time and gravity.

In the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance painters used gold to represent what went beyond the tangible sphere, transcending humankind. The mystic aura created by ancient techniques such as the gold background, golden luster and gilding still represent the essential starting point for artists wishing to use this element in their works.

What kind of appeal does gold have in the modern world? How is it used in contemporary art?

All golden and gleaming, the works and site-specific installations by the artists selected by Melania Rossi (in real or fake gold, or bronze, brass, plastic, ceramics, glass and paper) inevitably evoke the historical artistic tradition, while bearing the traces of each artist’s personal poetics.

Indeed each artist offers a unique perspective on this noble metal, exploring its beguiling alchemy or opting for an irreverent approach. Some, viewing gold as a color, have studied its pictorial properties; others, considering it a plastic material, have investigated its sculptural potential; others have set out to subvert the mythological, philosophical and literal meanings of gold over the ages.


The Shape of Gold is therefore an exhibition of exceptions: here, all that glitters is indeed gold.

The exhibition will feature one installation per month for twelve months, viewable 24/7 in the BUILDINGBOX window. An ongoing exploration of different, outstanding interpretations of aurum, that noble, rare, eternal metal, incorruptible in its purest form.


Biographical notes


Emiliano Maggi (Rome, 1977) lives and works in Rome. The artist explores the creation and disintegration of the self, producing sculptures that broaden up the range of figurative representation and evoke abstract regions beyond the realm of recognizability. His work is centered on human and animal forms, which in Maggi’s vision include not only their body but also mind, imagination and soul, not to mention the way the material world is perceived and felt through these channels. A world of fairytales, horror and science fiction films, erotic literature and rural iconography, where the human and animal bodies merge into countless genderless corporealities, resisting the dynamics of the performative power of figuration. Each of his works sprouts from a continuous and intuitive relationship within a vast range of techniques and materials: from sculpture to performance, from painting to music and dance too. His work reveals an ethic that depicts the world through its surfaces and in its details, where countless moments of invention and curiosity reflect the mysteries of the ever-changing consciousness. He regularly exhibits in private galleries and public spaces, including Nomas Foundation, Rome; Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Rome; Lorcan O’Neill Gallery, Rome; Macro Testaccio, Rome; Foro Palatino, American Academy, Rome; Museo Civico di Castelbuono, Palermo; Certosa di Padula, Salerno; MRAC, Musée régional d’art contemporain Occitanie, Sérignan, France; Revolver Galeria, Lima, Perù; Mimosa House, Q21, Wien; Mona Museum, Hobart, Tasmania; Italian Institute of Culture, Los Angeles, USA.