LUCE COATTA Dischiusure
Isabel Banal | Antonio Catelani | Paolo Meoni
curated by Saretto Cincinelli
November 20, 2014 _ January 30, 2015
Under the oxymoronic bent of its title, LUCE COATTA, Dischiusure, seems to bring together works of distant artists like cardinal points, but actually rests on a sort of common attitude that each of the artists shares, albeit remotely, with the Preferirei di no ('I would prefer not to') of Bartleby the Scrivener. This is the employing of ‘negations’ which however are to be understood by paying greater attention to the original duplicity of the gesture on which they are founded rather than their negativity itself: negations which paradoxically announce instead of interdicting, or, more precisely, promise by means of their very interdiction.
Instead of expressing meaning, Isabel Banal’s work seems to stand guard over it, to keep it in reserve, as a seed – the central figure of her poetics – contains potentially a fruit to come. In the series Sense revelar, the artist tends to empty the consubstantial assertive power of every expository formula, through a gesture that we could define as “unwilling”, which by drawing back both gives, and, at the same time, puts in reserve a void that holds a new possibility for a gaze. Disappointing every expectation, Banal presents, in fact, not the pictures taken during her various excursions in Garroxta, but the simple roll films that bear witness to her trips: surprised by what is “displayed out of sight”, we thus witness a stripping down of the work which is however unconnected with any iconoclastic intention. The depiction of the image here becomes the image of the depiction that undoes every traditional idea of exposition; being on display is not thus the visibility of what was formerly hidden but its invisible potentiality. The indifferent-difference of places that’s have been consumed and made interchangeable by the “tourist’s gaze” reverberates through the almost-identity of works that differ through minimal and unessential variants (the quantity of rolls displayed in each frame, the colors and lettering of their brand labels, the “uselessly” precise captions): visually comparable to unused roll films, Isabel’s exposed (but not developed) rolls seem to lead us away from the work to its not-yet. (...) The exposition of the simple roll films of Sense revelar, establishing itself as the freezing of freezing captured by every photograph, invites us to undertake the backwards journey that from the work takes us to its before. Based on the suspension and enchantment of communicative devices (put on display made to shoot literally “empty”), Isabel Banal’s work, while renouncing any translation into clear propositions, frees up a seduction capable of “sending off on holiday the hypostasis of meaning”. They are not mere vehicles, they do not make the presentation of... but show a “coming into presence” (Nancy) that, like a permanent inchoative, contain a deferral and a differentiation of that very presence.
Appearing as empty donations, they place us before a suspension of meaning the leads us to subject our very modalities of reception to an explicit curve. In the unpublished series Polaroid, 2014, Paolo Meoni does not look to capture a fragment of reality but the photographic image of its very making. Calling upon that hybrid technology called instant photography created by Polaroid in the 1970s, the artist intervenes prematurely during the development of the image to show us, après coup, what we might define as the interim of its material genesis. The edges of the Polaroid are cut away by a pair of scissors, thus separating what had been joined to bring about the instantaneousness of the development process, and opening up and peeling away the image-result to bring to light its previous state. The artist then flips over the recto of the two parts and lays out their verso in a single frame. In this way he displays the inside of the split photo
in two specular sections that represent two stages of its development. The result is an abstract diptych that, depicting a composition of shadows, outlines and silhouettes of various tones, constitutes a sort of chōra or matrix of the image to come. Different from the point of view of the genesis but not too distant in the visual effects is Video #2 (2013), a work that features the enigmatic evidence of images that seem to contain a potential of indetermination that evades all comprehension. A narrow strip of luminous blue, perfectly defined or out of focus, which somewhat recalls visually a Barnett Newman painting, cuts through the center of a black screen, like a shimmering zipper in constant movement. Here, as in Polaroid “the movement of showing and hiding of things” seems to have lost “all directional force” (Blanchot) and the work seems to presuppose the possibility of a reversal of viewing that is transformed into fascination. Despite appearances, the video has not undergone any sophisticated digital procedure, there is only the discovery and the selection of bold and unusual framing: that which appears as hypnotic flux of “abstract” liquid images, animated by a variable speed and by varying brightness that can occasionally change towards white or red, is, in fact, ‘simply’ a screen that – in turn – receives a projection; a thin screen shot not from the front but with an inventive lateral framing. It is this partial view, a sort of anamorphisis up to a point of no return, which reduces the image to a pulsing strip of vertical light. To make the work, or rather to nourish Meoni’s work is thus ‘simply’ the recording of changes in the framing, of the rhythmic variations of light and color of the film projects on the screen recorded by his video camera (...).
To stay rigorously on the margins of paintings and sculpture in order to work the borders means to inhabit strategically a heritage to disorient it from the inside. This is the perspective in which, from his debut, Antonio Catelani has positioned himself; his work has established itself among the most important achievements of Italian art in the 1980s. On this occasion the artist is presenting a sculpture Twisted (2010) and several paintings entitled Abwesenheiten in preuβisch blau, recent parts of the larger cycle Assenze, begun in Berlin in 2008, examples of a “meta-painting subject to the law of gravity that tends to objectify itself to the point of suppressing, through a metonymic function, the distinction between material and image". Oil paintings on canvas, which seem to indicate the center ground of the work in a precise disciplinary field but in which one nevertheless notes a substantial slipping of scope made possible by the employment of a technique borrowed from printing. The coat of color applied by means of a silk-screen, a process used by Catelani since 2000, in the end leads to the depersonalizing of the gesture and to the disappearance of the texture. They are works that indicate a substantial turn to the monochrome that the artist “applies to the precarious border between the image and objectification of the frame”. Prussian blue is a highly unstable color, destined to chromatic change and to oxidation. “The chemical composition of iron and cyanide produces a very particular blue, which in sunlight changes color, taking on an shiny aspect and in the end returns to its original ferrous state, literally rusting” (...). In the installations Turnturm and Twisted, proposed in 2010 to the Italian Embassy in Berlin, it is the frame, generator of volumes and voids, that establishes the third dimension. The sculptures, composed of elements in black cardboard and metal parts, despite their solid image, are formed by a thin, hollow body that refers us back to the two-dimensional frame that generated them (...).
Inaugurating a territory of perhaps, which resists any attempt at summing up, the works of Catelani, Meoni and Banal open by closing and close by opening, or, we could perhaps more precisely say, suspend inside themselves the concepts of opening and closing, of the hereafter and the here and now; by referring us back to what spills across them, the appear at the same time as themselves and others, as ended and unending. What makes these works possible is, paradoxically, that which introduces into them a principle of insatiability that compromises neither their identity nor simplicity. An apparently unresolvable impasse, turning itself inside out like a glove, is transformed into an opportunity that allows the works to free themselves from their purity. This is, moreover, the only possibility that they have to open themselves up to a future that is not already perfectly foreseeable, to the possibility that their realization becomes a reality but is not used up, but is preserved inside, like the trace of that which animates them and gives them existence.