Stories by Matteo Peretti at Emmeotto Gallery on Via Margutta

I have to admit that whenever I wander down Via Margutta and look at the private galleries it isn't often that I'm wildly impressed by anything I see there. All that changed the other day, however, when I happened upon Emmeotto and a show dedicated to the young Roman artist Matteo Peretti. I only intended staying long enough to kill time before a lunch appointment at my favourite vegetarian restaurant Il Margutta which is just up the road, but was so impressed I ended up being late for lunch and going back later for a second look!

Stories is a substantial exhibition which gathers together forty pieces of work, many of which are constructed from a jumble of assembled old toys and found objects – Toy Story would have fit equally well as a title for this show - with pieces ranging from free standing sculptures to bas-relief monochrome collages. Whilst there's something undeniably eclectic about the work - think Duchamp's readymades meets Jeff Koons – Peretti's takes his own very personal brand of pop art into the 21st century by putting an ironic spin on the genre with contemporary political and social references. Whilst some of the portraits might be a little obvious - the first piece on show, for example, is entitled George W, and is a grinning moss-covered chimpanzee head, whilst Barack is represented as a tiny man propping up a large globe – there are others such as Cinque, a monochrome Yves Klein blue surface teeming with melted and reassembled toys, tanks and guns, which are simply beautiful.

Anybody who has lived in this country or seen any TV in Italy will enjoy the humour in the hollowed out television carcasses such as Synthetic Brain - Ferrari crammed full of Barbie dolls and other figures like a chaotic Italian nativity scene or presepe. My favourite piece in the entire show, however, was Snoopy – a strangely haunting assemblage of toys with the recognisable Peanuts character in its midst. Ash grey in colour and with a matte almost dusty finish, it reminded me in some strange way of the figures at Pompeii.

As somebody who collects vintage action figures I often needed to put my feelings aside as I spotted Spider-Man and other more or less recognisable heroes in the mix and kept reminding myself that they had been sacrificed for a higher purpose! Highly recommended!

Stories by Matteo Peretti is curated by Martina Cavallarin and continues at Emmeotto until 21 November 2009

EMMEOTTO - Via Margutta, 8 - 00187 Roma