Carlo Guaita

May 22, 2009 – Nov 7, 2009
Opening: May 11, 2009, 18:30

Press release

Curated by Saretto Cincinelli

A one-man show that ranges through Carlo Guaita’s recent work, presenting not only unpublished works such as the series of “Horizons” and “Daguerreotypes”, on which the artist has been working continuously for several years, but new cycles created for the occasion such as the Collassati, the Granulometrie, the Fotogrammi, the Archivi, the Vuoti, the Prosopopee. If the frame of reference of Granulometrie and “Daguerreotypes” is monochrome painting, Orizzonti and Vuoti tend rather towards sculpture, and the Fotogrammi and Prosopopee draw on the idea of montage implicit in collage, the Collassati appear to accomplish an après coup fusion between the requirements of both painting and sculpture. The “Horizons” start as materializations of a symbolic line representing the physical and metaphorical most distant point of both sight and thought, while at the same time putting themselves forward as the greatest possible reduction and concentration of sculpture. Engraved in each “Horizon” is a quotation referring to Landscape in both the physical-visual-pictorial and the symbolical-cultural-philosophical senses. The quotations are taken from scientific and philosophical works of the 18th century. Some of the “Horizons” include the case, which has a function for safe-keeping and transport, but also for re-introducing that material component which, removed from the sculpture in its linear development, returns in the form of the case to contain the work itself. The Daguerreotypes, which are small scale monochrome pictures, are achieved by covering the support with numerous washes and applying a final transparent varnish. The colour is not applied with a brush but left flat, to settle layer after layer. Seen from a distance the Daguerreotypes appear as flat, reflecting surfaces, but from close by they turn out to be absorbent, saturate, with depth after depth. They never attain the definition of a figure, but appear to be striving towards that impossible feat. The Collassati, which are canvasses cut and then superimposed in layers, for which the adhesive is the painting itself, start from the idea that a monochrome is indeed a collapse upon itself like a black hole. Meaning energy in contraction rather than expansion. The background of the picture replicates and overlays itself until it takes on real presence and material texture. The Vuoti are sculptures based on the convex and concave. In these works also the case containing the sculpture – in a manner similar to that of the “Horizons” – becomes the basis of the work itself. The Prosopopee are collages which provide for the form of an allegorical narrative; they are like captions to the entire corpus of the artist’s work. Almost an allegory of allegories. The totally non-imitative nature of the painterly process enables these collages to be, on the contrary, excessive in terms of narrative and figure. Centred upon a sort of iconology of modernity, Guaita’s work concerns itself with monochrome painting and landscape, the latter interpreted as an antagonist but also as a productive substratum. Working on different planes – that of conceptual references, that of the relationship between the works and the actual materials of their formal execution – the artist puts into effect a continuous process of stratification, almost an act of endless archiving and cataloguing. The work in all its various aspects hence appears as a flexible encyclopedia, to be read on both the formal and the conceptual planes, in which the only method of restoring a unity is its very absence.

“Guaita”, as Saretto Cincinelli has written, “does not encounter what McEvelly calls ‘the most enigmatic icon of modern art’ within a conceptual process aiming to lead painting to its ultimate conclusion; more than being faithful to what monochrome has been, the artist is interested in re-opening the reserve of futurity which the latter preserves in its interior, like that which destines it to withstand its own saturation and constantly exposes it to coming up against its own limits. As we view it, by means of a sort of transposition of the background of the painting onto the surface, Guaita’s monochrome achieves a result that obeys no representational logic, an appearance relieved of any kind of dependence which, in the absence of any background, creates it: an endless beginning again; something more than the opposite of a conclusion, and different from the restoration of an origin: an extra-representational place of expectation in which the over-visibility of the form and the invisibility of the background reveal their immanent surfaces, their shared visibility which, by exceeding it, undermine any mutual contradiction on their part. Art, for Guaita, does not consist in giving form to material but, by means of a deletion and transfiguration of form, in bringing the seen and the visible to the brink of their outer limits, the limits of their potentiality… Guaita’s extra-representational work stands, therefore, as the clean contrary of any kind of totalization.