FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEST BUND ART & DESIGN FAIR SHANGHAI
7–10 NOVEMBER 2019
Rossi Martino is pleased to participate for the second time to West Bund Art & Design Fair in Shanghai. The booth foregrounds a generation of seminal post-war artists active in Europe who not only elaborated upon the widespread cubist painterly syntax of preceding decades, but also updated the terms of abstraction and informal art.
The exhibition features works by Alighiero Boetti, Enrico Castellani, Piero Dorazio, Lucio Fontana, Jannis Kounellis, Georges Mathieu, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mario Schifano, Emilio Vedova, and others, who individually developed innovative approaches to art-making, thus extricating Italy from decades of cultural isolation.
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 1966, Water paint on canvas, 81 × 100 cm
Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) executed holes and slashes that opened his canvases to further spatial dimensions in works such as Concetto spaziale (1966). Here Fontana molds categories of architecture, sculpture, and painting to create a work that stands firmly in representing the Futurist movement. Fontana punctured the surface of his canvases, breaking the two-dimensionality of the canvas, with the objective to highlight the space behind the picture. The work is part of a series of works titled I buchi: this cycle (1948-69) includes pictures featuring constellations of “holes” made in the surface of the canvas. For Fontana, this series began in 1949 and continued through the following years. The first works displayed a whirl of holes; while from 1950 onwards the whirls were replaced by holes arranged on the basis of more regular sequences. The “Holes” have a purely “spatial” origin, stemming from the most active and profound period of this field of research. As well as being purely graphic features on the canvas, the significance of the holes lies in the fact they are to be considered as true openings leading towards further space.
Enrico Castellani, Superficie bianca, 1963, Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 100 cm
Enrico Castellani (1930–2017) operated on the physical dimensions of the pictorial surface to protruding effect. Instead of digging in profundity — and thereby investigating a dimension beyond the two-dimensional plane — they deformed the canvas towards the viewer, exerting an outward reaching pressure by means of nails and wooden supports. On his surfaces, each nail corresponds to two points: hollow and relief, light and shadow. A game that is endless, just as its solutions are infinite: as many as the rhythmic paths it is possible to imprint on his canvases. His works are the testimony of a complex investigation of light: the three dimensionality pursued with the system of the nails, plays entirely in favour of the surface, at the moment in which it is bathed in light. In fact, depending on the source of the light (and its quality: concentrated and direct rather than diffused) and the different points of observation, the work’s reality is revealed as a space with a thousand possible readings. An intricate play of light and shadow flits across the monochromatic expanse of Enrico Castellani’s painting, Superficie Bianca (White Surface), 1963. The work is from his illustrious body of Superficie paintings, which dominated his practice from 1959.
Jannis Kounellis, Untitled, 1961-1962, Ink on paper, 70 x 100 cm
Jannis Kounellis (1936–2017) was a Greek Italian contemporary artist based in Rome. A key figure associated with Arte Povera. Untitled (1961-1962) is a large and important example from the rare group of Kounellis’ first paintings that the artist made in Rome in the early 1960s. With hindsight it seems both fitting and somewhat prophetic that Kounellis should have announced both his arrival as an artist and the beginning of his artistic journey with such primary elements as those of his ‘alphabet pictures’. Using the most basic components of language, (letters, numbers, and simple signs) broken down into their constituent parts and then seemingly reassembled on the canvas as autonomous elements composed according to a new, complex and seemingly unintelligible order, Kounellis was both deconstructing the conventions of language and announcing a new poetry.
Alighiero Boetti, Sciogliersi come neve al sole, 1988, Embroidery on linen on panel, 23 x 20.5 cm
Alighiero Boetti (1940–1994), who was amongst Arte Povera’s most famous exponents, executed in 1988, his series of arazzi, or ‘word squares’, are a kaleidoscope of colours and letters, in which language is broken and rendered undecipherable by line and colour. In Sciogliersi come la neve al sole (1988), from the series, the artist creates his own unique order system based on possible combinations of letters and words. Each made up of sixteen letters, the sentences are inscribed in twenty-five square grids, in a hermetic, zigzag order, reading from left to right and from top to bottom. Like his older counterparts, Boetti adopted an unusual and archaic technique – in his case, weaving – which he updated to serve his groundbreaking practice. In the arazzi, then, beyond the simple disfiguration that underpins Boetti’s entire conceptual approach, the artist exalts and celebrates the sheer sensual beauty of colour.