Oktober 2023 - Marz 2024
Just below the distinctly exotic and humoristic surface of Léo Luccioni’s Hakuna Mahaha, a shrouded web of unanswered existential questions awaits the unsuspecting visitor. Embellished in the candy coloured packaging of commercial display and food, reflections on topics like industrialized global economy and its consequences, as well as its greenwashing tactics, are stealthily concealed.
Central in the exhibition is the lionless adaptation of Walt Disney’s Lion King poster in the impressive aerosol and oil painting The Sun does not exist. The idyllic African sunset turns into a threatening, desolate landscape through the eyes of a generation bombarded by the mass media with climate changing greenhouse emissions and the extinction of animal species. Closely connected is the neon light Swahili quote Hakuna Matata (meaning ‘no worries’) the above-mentioned entertainment company registered as their trademark. Rendering the phrase in the German Fraktur type that was used for propaganda, connects the corporation's current methods to the political sympathies of it's founder. The bronze cast Lion chocolate bars in their original plastic foil packaging as The End of Kings suggest the remnants of the absent feline, accompanied by the hypnotic sound of tongue drums made from empty gas cylinders in the Meditation Drum series.
In the back room a seductive human sized copy of a Bounty chocolate bar aptly titled Mutiny on the Bounty, a Taste of Nostalgia reminds the diversion of advertising strategies, and the artificial paradise they sold so well that the dream they promised evaporated. After consumer protests this snack promoting itself as ‘A Taste of Paradise’ was exiled from Celebrations boxes in the United States, revisiting the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty the name referred to. What initially appeared to be an exaltation of the wonders of our era seemingly embodies the weight as well as the unbearable lightness of a time beyond the anthropocene.
Between desire and rejection, the profane and the sacred, Leo Luccioni develops a body of work in which the material world is deregulated. A polysemic and allegorical art that encourages critical thinking, invites reinvention and surprise. With a counter-poetry that is both popular and existential, he questions the absurdity of mass production and the illusion of material ecstasy. These installations oscillate between seemingly benign entertainment and the latent seriousness that can resurface at any moment.
His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions, in 2020 at Everyday Gallery in Antwerp, in 2021 at NADA New York and Stems Gallery in Brussels, in 2022 at the Palazzo Monti in Brescia and at the Chapelle des Dames Blanches in La Rochelle and, in 2023, at Romero Paprocki in Paris. He has taken part in exhibitions at Garage Rotterdam, the Boghossian Foundation, Studio-Orta, New Space, the Cassina Project and at various fairs in Paris, Milan, Miami, Hong Kong and Dubai. He has been awarded the Belgian Young Artist prize in sculpture and installation in 2022. In 2024 he presents a solo exhibition at Ceramic Brussels with Romero Paprocki and a solo exhibition at Stems, Brussels.