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A Pictorial Celebration of 'Made in Italy'

Visitors examining Robino’s meticulous drawings of mid-20th-century Italian designs, like the pink Fiat 500.

On July 2, the Zeppelin Gallery held the opening for a new exhibition, "Fast Art Take Away," by Italian artist Massimiliano Robino. The exhibition is dedicated to Robino's small and highly detailed drawings of retro Italian cars and motor-scooters. Dozens of drawings done in pen and pastel capture mid-20th-century models of cars produced by Piaggio, Fiat, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. Robino does a series of drawings of one design and displays them all together, in a line of one after the other — as if they were products coming off the conveyer belt. At the Zeppelin Gallery, 44 images of a retro Vespa scooter cover an entire wall, as if they were flying off the assembly line.

All of Robino's drawings are a tribute to Italian design of the mid-20th century and the extraordinary significance of postwar industrialization, which transformed both production and the Italian economy.

"Fast Art Take Away" is the artist's second exhibition in the Zeppelin Gallery. The first, "The Illumination Theory," consisted of abstract patterns on black backgrounds — like what you see when you close your eyes. That exhibition represented Robino's abstract period, which the artist has now moved away from. In an interview with The Moscow Times, the artist explained, "I felt that I had exhausted abstract art for myself. These cars are a reminder of my culture, of the greatness of Italy during industrialization, and its greatness now. That's where I find inspiration."

In search of objects to draw, Robino traveled for eight months through Italy. He looked for vintage automobiles everywhere. Most of the cars were found by chance, as Robino roamed the streets of Rome and Sicily with his wife Yana. One of Robino's favorite models was a pink Fiat 500, which was tucked away in a narrow side street of Rome. "I spent an abominable amount of money to rent that car, and when I climbed into it, my head was touching the ceiling. But when the motor purred, I felt the freedom and the eternal youth that these cars contain. They are a true symbol of Italy, with a true Italian soul."

Vladimir Filonov / MT

Modern technology capturing one drawing of the Vespa motor-scooter.

Robino said that he needed to "get to know" a vehicle before he could sit down and spend the hundreds of hours necessary to capture its every detail on paper. "Each car," he said, "has its charm and its own story."

Robino attributes his love of these cars to his earliest childhood. It all started, he said, with a 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia — his first car. "It was in this car that my father picked me up from the hospital on the day I was born!"

The owners of the Zeppelin Gallery were not distressed when their previously abstract artist turned his hand to representational art. Yulia Petrushina said in an interview that "Massimiliano's talent is so versatile, I was not surprised to see him go from abstract to detailed works. I expect more great art from this incredible artist and friend."

The exhibition will be held at Zeppelin Gallery until July 31. Novinsky Center, 31 Novinsky Bulvar. Metro Barrikadnaya, Krasnopresnenskaya. 495-797-2077. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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