In the mid-nineties, Francesco Vezzoli started embroidering tears on portraits of famous people: this is how it all started.

These portraits were then followed by a blazing production of flashy videos, filled with references to the history of cinema and television. With brilliant mastery, the artist mixes elements of pop culture with intellectual influences, each of which comes from a different moment in his eclectic life. Born in Brescia, Vezzoli moved to London during the time of the Pet Shop Boys and Leigh Bowery; his experiences then have been translated into his most recent set of exhibition, deemed “The Trinity,” which is a retrospective divided in to three stages and split among Rome’s Maxxi, New York’s PS1/MoMA and LA’s MOCA. “The Trinity” is not a classic itinerant exhibition, but an original and kaleidoscopic project that unfolds in the most internationally respected contemporary art institutions in Europe and the United States. May 2013 saw the opening of “Galleria Vezzoli” at the Maxxi (open until November 24), in which Vezzoli transforms architect Zaha Hadid’s phantasmagoric museum into a sumptuously ironic installation celebrating his fantastic career.

Rows of scholarly white statues supporting little plasma screens show a short, “Vezzolian” style film on loop, while the existing floor space is covered in red damask-colored PVC. On the walls, a few of his most celebrated embroideries including those of Slivana Mangano, Pasolini and Lady Gaga streaked with lurex tears, contrast with the artist’s most recent statues in which he opens a dialogue with classical sculpture. When talking to Anna Mattirolo about the Roman project, Vezzoli said, “I have tried to transform il MAXXI into the Vezzoli Gallery, halfway between the historic marble pavements of the Galleria Borghese and a hotel in Dubai.” However in the exhibition catalogue, published by Electra Mondadori, he talks of all three as a complete trilogy: “I wanted to dribble the pompous nature of a retrospective, creating something that is perhaps halfway between Cher’s final concert and one of Gordon Matta Clark’s works. Consequently, an anti-retrospective.

Meanwhile, the trailer of “The Trinity” plays on loop as if it were a film being presented simultaneously in Rome, New York and Los Angeles just as the artist likes it. To see “The Church of Vezzoli” and “Cinema Vezzoli” both of which will be on display in a real church and transported all over Italy and recreate a cinema inside a museum, you must be patient for another few months. However, it will definitely be worth it.

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