Step 1 of 2
Join Our Mailing List
Effetto is the marketplace connecting interior designers and collectors with curated selections of high-end furniture and collectibles from the world’s best dealers.

To ensure you get the most relevant news please let us know if you are:
Please select an option to proceed
Miaz Brothers painting at Maddox Gallery in Effect Magazine

Miaz Brothers bring their razor-sharp vision to Maddox Gallery with ‘Don’t Look Now’

The Miaz Brothers have returned to Maddox Gallery with Don’t Look Now – a sharply focused solo collection mined in lockdown but freighted with a message of hope. Effect Magazine met the Italian brothers to hear the story behind their mesmerising and celebrated artworks

You probably recognise the person in the above painting. Or do you? Can a portrait ever capture anyone?

Roberto Miaz, overseeing the installation of their new Maddox Gallery show Don’t Look Now, explains it like this: “Today, we met. But tonight, we might do something that means that tomorrow, when we meet again, we are not really the same.”

This sense of flux lies at the heart of their hazy, refracted paintings – where people, constructs or even products that seem familiar are rendered in unfamiliar ways. And like people, the closer you get to them, the more complex, ambiguous and unknowable they become.

The Miaz Brothers photographed by Alun Callender for The Maddox Gallery in Effect Magazine
The Miaz Brothers : Left: Renato and right: Roberto, photographed by Alun Callender for The Maddox Gallery

The paintings are created by layering aerosol dots into a rich, veiled matrix of shifting depth and luminosity. “It’s impossible for us to do a portrait of someone by using lines,” says Miaz, “because tomorrow, that person will already be gone. That’s why we’ve got to keep that sense of doubt – of something not defined.”

We’ve got to keep that sense of doubt – of something not defined.

Roberto Miaz

That fuzziness, which forces us to fill in the blanks with our own imagination, acts as a potent antidote to our ultra-high-definition world of screens – in our pockets, on our wrists, on our walls – saturating us with tinny, overly crisp content that removes the need to think or to look critically at the world. And it’s one that is clearly resonating – their launch party a few days later is rammed; and the waiting list for their work is reputedly very long indeed.

The art critic Maeve Doyle, Maddox’s Artistic Director (and host of the excellent Private View podcast) believes it is this shift of emphasis from artist to viewer that is striking a chord. “One of the things they address really well is the relevance of portrait painting in 2022. Because, is it relevant? Do you really want a picture of someone else’s face on your wall? I don’t know – that’s for you to decide. But what they found is this interesting place where they’re just about to leave portraiture for abstraction. They remove the ownership – it’s for each individual to engage with that piece – to decide what is happening.”

In mining this rich seam, the Miaz Brothers have also alchemised that valuable thing: an oeuvre that is unmistakeably theirs. Their new collection builds on last year’s The Past, Present & Imperceptible – which reframed past masterpieces through their gauzed interpretation. But Don’t Look Now is a new chapter nonetheless, one that sets out their stall with even more clarity and focus, but born out of the pain and disruption of the pandemic.

“For us, this was the first time where we couldn’t go out and see the world,” says Roberto. “At our age, you think you’ve already experienced a lot of stuff, but this time was something stronger and different. We felt a lot of preoccupations around problems and tragedy. But we are always trying to see the other side.”

They found this interesting place where they’re just about to leave portraiture for abstraction. They remove the ownership – it’s for each individual to decide what it happening.

Maeve Doyle, Artistic Director, Maddox Gallery

In Don’t Look Now, Roberto and Renato set out to salute historical figures who overcame times of global or personal crisis to impact humanity for the better. These figures include Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare and Rembrandt – all of whom, Maddox Gallery tells us, “proved at different times and in different ways that crisis can be the cradle of creativity… The brothers’ overriding message – relevant in our own era of upheaval – is that everything will be alright.”

As with their previous collection, The Miaz Brothers have taken as a starting point existing portraits – some relatively well-known, others as iconic as Salvator Mundi or The Birth of Venus – but transformed them into something entirely new. In doing so, they create the frisson of recognition alongside a totally novel feeling of reappraisal as your mind works to process what it is seeing.

Par Amour, 2022, acrylic on canvas, by the Miaz Brothers, from their ‘Don’t Look Now’ show at Maddox Gallery

There’s something in their cultural magpie approach that recalls the thrill and subversion of the advent of sampling records in the early days of hip hop – re-purposing existing ingredients to create something completely new. It’s an observation that chimes with Roberto (the Miaz Brothers are also accomplished musicians): “It really is kind of the same. It’s kind of a filter. And it’s a sample of something already existing, but by filtering it you can transform it. And it’s very interesting for us that people try to recognise it – like with a sample in a track, they try to remember it, but it’s not the same.”

One aspect of the appeal of the paintings in Don’t Look Now is that they blend the appearance of a classical artwork with an entirely contemporary feel. The Miaz Brothers have playfully extended this to the framing, which, while remaining elegantly pared-back, also toy with gallery conventions, with their echoes of gilt and grandeur – and they work brilliantly, contextualising the artworks while inviting us to meditate on the nature of the role portraiture and artworks in general have inhabited throughout the course of history.

The Miaz Brothers at the 'Don't Look Now' preview party with (centre) Mario Zonias, sales director and co-founder of Maddox Gallery
The Miaz Brothers at the ‘Don’t Look Now’ preview party with (centre) Mario Zonias, sales director and co-founder of Maddox Gallery (Photo: Ryan O’Donoghue)

While superficially, that blend of old and new means that a Miaz Brothers painting will work aesthetically on any wall, Maeve Doyle underlines that it’s the conceptual inclusiveness that lies at the root of their popularity among collectors.

“When you’re collecting art,” she says, “you have certain principles that you want your collection to align with. And it could be contemporary, it could be pop, it could be old masters. It could be activism – whoever you are, your collection should reflect that. What you get with the Miaz Brothers is a mirror to everyone. So, I don’t think it would limit anyone.”

Also worth noting is how alive the paintings look – and how they respond to natural light. “When you see them in people’s houses where they don’t have these spotlights,” says Roberto, “the paintings change with the light throughout the day. You see the Napoleon?” He gestures to the spectacular The One That Conquers, which is catching the wintery midday rays. “He’s quite calm. But in the afternoon, the Napoleon will begin to be really vivid.”

'The One That Conquers' by the Miaz Brothers in Maddox Gallery in Effect Magazine
The One That Conquers, 2022, acrylic on canvas, by the Miaz Brothers in Maddox Gallery, Westbourne Grove, London

The Miaz Brothers are often compared to Gerhard Richter on the basis that both artists employed filtering techniques over conventional compositions – but while they deservedly belong in Richter’s league, the processes at work are entirely their own.

Their intricate and dreamlike layering of dots first came to them, Roberto tells us, back in 2008, when they were ruminating on the atomic composition of genetic code, and thinking about how life is constantly changing. And the constellations of acrylic dots really do capture this – articulating a feature from a distance but atomising into obscurity up close. “Always dots,” says Roberto. “See the mouth here? But really, it’s just a sensation of a mouth.”

READ: Maddox Gallery’s Jay Rutland on NFTs, Banksy and the future of contemporary art

Seeing the paintings hung for the first time, surrounded by crowds of collectors at the preview, must bring with it the satisfaction for the brothers of knowing that the collection is done and with a line drawn underneath – a point that is not always the easiest to know has been arrived at. “A collection is like a curve,” says Roberto. “When we arrive at the highest point, we should stop, or change.”

Asking the brothers what is next is a little unfair when standing in the middle of a collection that represents an enormous undertaking and a vast amount of work. But they gamely reply.  

“A few months to clear the head,” says Roberto. “Whatever we do next,” avers Renato, “it will be completely different.”

Miaz Brothers Don’t Look Now is at Maddox Gallery, 112 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RU until 15 January 2023