Upon entering, visitors begin the experience with an unusually extensive corpus of works rarely exhibited under the same roof. Rather than displaying them in diachronic succession the paintings are grouped by genre, families. This visual taxonomy showcases the development over time of subjects that Gnoli pores over and acknowledges ever more intimately. Gnoli was born into a somewhat eccentric family: his grandfather was a poet, his father an art historian and his mother a ceramic artist. From them he inherited the awareness and cultural cues that inevitably informed his perspective, and that the young artist brought to life, disclosing an innate flair for wielding the paintbrush as a tool for drilling down into the essence of things, but above all for realizing the extraordinary modernness of the deep roots from which Italy’s artistic tradition springs.
The works arranged along the huge metal walls of the installation in the Prada Foundation's Podium Space bear witness to the artist’s interpretation of objects that he turns into an uncharted territory that he rediscovers time and again, a planet upon which he softly lands then burrows into its very bowels.
With the world obsessed with the future and artists like Lucio Fontana bewitched by rockets bound for outer space, Gnoli turned his attention to tables, armchairs, beds and bathtubs, exploring the domestic space and depicting trivial objects that nonetheless live forever when observed by an artist with a bent for the metaphysical. Gnoli learned not only from Morandi, De Chirico and Casorati, but from probing the very roots of Italian art. Thus, depictions of furnishings appear ancient at first sight, fashioned with techniques resembling bas-relief, or Etruscan art, like Massimo Campigli’s works. Subjects seem vividly tactile, almost sculptural despite their bi-dimensionality, a feature increasingly emphasized over time: Gnoli zooms in so close as to objectify them in a "disconcerting monumentality", as Salvatore Settis puts it in the catalogue.