Fabio Lattanzi Antinori | Jonny Niesche | Leonardo Ulian | Jonathan Vivacqua curated by Claudia Contu
THE FLAT – Massimo Carasi
22 february 2017 – 13 may 2017
The Flat – Massimo Carasi is pleased to present “Matter Matters” group show.
“The shapes, the unity, projection, order and color are specific, aggressive and powerful.”
Donald Judd, Specific Objects, 1965
In 1965, Donald Judd was writing for ArtsYearBook the text titled “Specific Objects”, in which he outlined the new born American Minimalist movement, claiming that painting and sculpting were significant media already, that made the arts’ dilution in a communicative context superflous.
Even if considering them minimalists would be an error, we can look at Fabrizio Lattanzi Antinori, Jonny Niesche, Leonardo Ulian and Jonathan Vivacqua as heirs of this vision, based on interdependence between matter and form.
Matter Matters is an exhibition that sets during Miart and Salone del Mobile, and so presents the works of four artists, that come from different contexts (Lattanzi Antinori, Ulian and Vivacqua are from Italy, but the first two live in London, while Jonny Niesche is Australian), but are associated by a precise, however original, consideration on forms and materials they use. By using particularly matter, and so surfaces, the artists converse, each one with a well distinct voice, creating a choir of particularly scathing, aesthetically exemplary works, where often the materials matter, flaunting themselves and their qualities.
We are in front of a continuous exercise of presence and removal, and this is the most fascinating part of these artworks. It’s undeniable that the removal stimulates, in a previous or later fraction of time, an ideal sense of filling, that sometimes becomes real. Like Plato claimed, everything is a copy of an intellectual, purely immaterial, concept, to which we tend to grasp for all our existence. And like Paul Klee rightfully added, centuries later: “Art does not reproduce what is visible, but makes visible what always isn’t.” It’s fascinating to observe how form, artistically or not, always hides a creator’s authentic mystery, a part of his intimate universe, accessible only to the few. Like me writing right now, I bring to you a message filtered by days and days of sensibility shaped on certain ideas. Like you reading this text, you could understand certain passages of it, maybe more than others. In the same way, the Artists that you’ll find in this exhibition, or in the next ones, will have a certain “ME” that you’ll be able to understand, or maybe not. It could sound obvious – and it is – , but I’ll restate it because we tend to forget to conceive artworks other than what they physically represent: just try for a moment to think what is the meaning of a lead sheet sewed to another. Sewing is one of the most lightweighted activities, conceptually and rethinically. I am thinking to my mother, who asks me to help her putting a string through the needle. In Ulian’s artworks this need relies with one of the hardest, unreliable – as lead is cancinogenic – media, which is bent on a bidimensional surface and put contrast with another material: sand . And maybe the connection with that sand used by the Tibetan Monks is explained as a sort of exorcism of lead’s malignity. If we think about all the hard work behind an artwork, we can realize the ritual connection between the Tibetan Monks and Mandalas: maybe Ulian, in creating his “canvases”, tries to cure something or maybe he tries to enter an ideal dimension. At this point, the image composed by the sand becomes even more interesting: a reference to the electrical components that always intrigued the artist, that are also pieces of a system nearly perfect, to us human beings.
Duchamp’s work taught me to be wary of dualistic juxtapositions made in other exhibitions, so “easy” and abused: but here I am, presenting an exhibit based on them. It must be that, thinking about it, they have been always present: from Hellenic Chiasmus to Goethe’s Theory of the Colour; maybe it’s right that they continue to be present. Also the studio is a fundamental piece of the interiority of who creates, the alchemic laboratory of the invisible made visible. Funnily enough, the only studio I possibly could have seen, during the creation of the exhibit – because of geographical distance – was Jonathan Vivacqua’s studio, in Erba: a big room in a construction building. From its windows, one could see Brianza’s mountains. Blue skies and abundant green were the colours I found in some of the artist’s still in the making art pieces. In this room rubber tubes were installed, with also Styrofoam sheets and steel construction structures, which I kind of liked. It must have been because of the contrast between nature and artificial that, in that moment, I felt more powerful than ever. Like in Ettore Spalletti’s painting-scultures, Vivacqua’s artworks suggest a potential vertigo and engulfment, a background extension that creates a spiral. Here, the space, invisible, becomes part of the artwork, visible.
Same goes for Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, working conceptually on a very strong subject for our times: Finance and Numbers. How many times are we suspicious of the virtuality of numbers – I’m personally obsessed – and the tangible effects they create. The artist uses data packages from the main organizations in finance, and converts them in sound impulses reproduced by a singing voice: there is a saying from where I’m from “paper sings”, and in this case, the paper used by Lattanzi Antinori in his works, does it, making something beautiful from something that isn’t necessarily beautiful, carrying on the tradition of artists and intellectuals that underline the virtuous relationship between mathematics and beauty. Nowadays, in the XXI century, we talk about it more than ever, and we have to continue doing so, since art, created in this way, contributes being a mirror of our present, so digital but attached to harmony. Negative recoils accompanies us like a continuous low, because this is the nature of things. You have the choice of where to put the border between these two opposites.
Talking about singing, a song I really can’t get out of my head is City of Stars, that came out this winter in La La Land. In my mind, I have Ryan Gosling humming “City of Stars, are you shining just for me?”, referring to Los Angeles, which has in that moment an artificial sky, where colours blend, from pink to blue. I found the same blending of colours in some of Jonny Niesche’s canvases, and I thought of how Sydney’s sunsets mustn’t be so different from the ones in Los Angeles. The artworks have an enviable aesthetic, which comes from the simplicity of a metal structure that meets a spray coloured synthetic fabric. The colour gradients remind me of the beautiful images that our screen savers offer, but it’s the horizontal line in “Undersong”, which defines a space and invites our eyes to look past it, that makes me wonder. Niesche’s artwork has been inspired by “Pool with two figures” made by David Hockney. I had a chance to see it, at the Tate Museum, huge and stunning, and an article from Tommaso Trini, wrote in 1969 on the subject of “Earthworks” and “Land Art” jumped to my mind: “Imagination conquers Earth”.
Still in this day and age, the secret ingredient that allows us to evaluate an artwork is the same: finding a tangible and unique imagination, and if the works of these four artists answer in a unique and specific way, it’s the distinctiveness of their materials to make them communicate in this surprising way. Voile, next to steel, lead, paper and sound: everything comes together, in a way I didn’t imagine possible. Donald Judd considered the communicative and narrative context, in his times, irrelevant: I think it’s essential, also when the artist doesn’t start from a narrative research, but takes advantage of form, materials and physical and tangible presence.
Last note on my obsession with numbers: on March 22nd, 1969 “When Attitudes Become Form. Live in Your Head”, curated by Harald Szeemann, was opening at the Kunsthalle Bern. It featured artworks by 69 artists, in which we find Joseph Beuys, Richard Long, Emilio Prini, Mario Merz, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Micheal Heizer, Lawrence Weiner, Walter de Maria, Jannis Kounellis. It’s not my intention to assimilate my work to one of the greatest art wise, which is Szeemann, neither I want to compare Matter Matters to Attitudes, but I always loved coincidences, and I like to think that this is a great date to inaugurate our exhibition, and a good omen for everybody involved in this project.
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori (Roma, 1971): lives and works in London. After his studies at Goldsmiths University, he exposed his works in London, Wien, Milano, Trento, Shenzen and New York, where in 2012 he attended a summer school organized by MoMa PS1 by Marina Abramovic. He held conferences in universities and academies like Goldsmiths University, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute of Chongqing, University of New York and MoCa in Shanghai. His artworks are kept in many collections, such as Victoria&Albert Museum in London, Museo Civico di Villa Lagarina in Rovereto and Museo Civico Crespina in Pisa.
Jonny Niesche (Sydney, 1972): he participated in many collective exhibits, and he has galleries and public spaces dedicated to him in Wien, Sydney and Melbourne. This occasion at The Flat – Massimo Carisi, is the first one in which he exposes his artworks in Italy. This year he was awarded the Australian Council Grant, and he is present in public and private collections, particularly Australian and American ones, like National Gallery of Victoria, M.O.N.A. in Hobart and ARTBANK AU.
Leonardo Ulian (Gorizia, 1974): he is one the artists of The Flat – Massimo Carisi’s gallery. In addition to Exposing often in the gallery, he counts many personal exhibitions in London, Berlin and Pula (Croatia), and many collective exhibits in France, Estonia, USA, Tibet and Spain; in private galleries such as Zabludowitz Collection in London, or in public ones like Toile de Jouy Museum, Tartu Art Museum and Villa Florio in Udine. Thanks to his artworks he won the Owen Rowley Award in 2009 and participates to a number of exhibitions around Europe and America.
Jonathan Vivacqua (Erba, 1986): lives and works in Milan. He took part to a residency program at the Carlo Zauli Museum of Faenza in 2015, and has exposed in a number of occasions mainly on Italian territory. Among his collectives, he exposed his artworks in South Korea, Milano, Cagliari and Torino. He recently contributed in “The habit of a foreign sky”, curated by Ginevra Bria, in Futurdome, and has exposed in collective galleries such as Arrivada Gallery and Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Lissone.