Rhythm and Repetition. A Contemporary Aesthetic
In autumn 2023, Tornabuoni Art holds its first exhibition of Pablo Atchugarry’s sculptures in the open – air spaces of the Village Royal, in the heart of Paris’s 8th arrondissement.
The exhibition Rythme et répétition. Une esthétique contemporaine continues in a second adjacent space, at 26 rue Boissy d’Anglas.
The project will feature sculptures by Pablo Atchugarry (1954) alongside great post-war Italian masters whose works can also be read through the prism of variation and repetition. These include Lucio Fontana (1899 – 1968), Turi Simeti (1929 – 2021), Enrico Castellani (1930 – 2017), Dadamaino (1930 – 2004), Alberto Biasi (1937), Alighiero Boetti (1940 – 1994) and Paolo Scheggi (1940 – 1971).
Tornabuoni Art reaffirms its commitment to promoting Italian post-war artists through Rythme et répétition. Une esthétique contemporaine and explores this artistic period from a new angle, offering new keys to understanding post-modern and contemporary Western art. The importance attached to monochrome, to minimalism and to the development of an aesthetic linked to a personal technical exploration that differentiates the artist from the group in which he may evolve, are recurrent elements in the works of the Italian post-war masters. The seriality of their production, this constant reiteration of the same ‘monochrome aesthetic’ or ‘mono-tone’, can be seen as an essential part of the artistic production examined.
Indeed, since the late 1950s in Europe, there has been a broader trend towards serialisation in the visual arts, marked by Lucio Fontana’s early Tagli and Yves Klein’s blue monochromes. While various players on the international and Italian art scene were involved, Fontana’s Milanese disciples and representatives of the conceptual art movement were particularly active in this research.
Serialism in post-war Europe was characterised by the absence of figuration, though without the precise, industrial reproduction typical of American Minimalism. By repeating a model almost identically, the artist creates a conceptual chain in which each work responds to another, echoing the same artistic breath while at the same time carrying its own identity.
Seriality, characterised by the repetition of an aesthetic with slight variations, is a fundamental component of conceptual research that is enriched by the historical-philosophical context of post- modernism, characterised by the philosophy of Derrida and Deleuze, in which all styles coexist and there is no longer any historical progression. A new concept of art and the work of art emerges from the crisis of canonical painting, emptied of all psychological content, open and therefore potentially a collective heritage. Works of art that are structurally, formally and materially analogous, resulting from the abstraction of the elements of the classical work of art and characterised by their subsequent positioning in a system of temporal, logical and spatial relationships. The works of the Milanese school of the 1960s is particularly representative of these characteristics.
Lucio Fontana, a theorist of Spatialism, created several series of works throughout his career, each distinguished by the gestures that generated them. Rhythm and Repetition. A Contemporary Aesthetic offers two important examples from the Tagli series that the artist began producing in 1958 and that would accompany his work until his death in 1968, such as Concetto spaziale. Attesa, 1961. All the works in this series are united by the name ‘Spatial Concept. Waiting.s’ and are monochrome canvases divided by the artist, allowing him to reflect on the relationship between work, space and emptiness. These ideas are perpetuated by artists active in Milan during those years, such as Paolo Scheggi, Enrico Castellani, and Dadamaino, who in different ways question the volume and surface of a work, continually highlighting in their series the paradoxically antinomian notions of repetition and variation. Dadamaino’s Volume 1959 and Volume 1960 use strictly white or black canvases to develop Fontana’s quest to move beyond the two-dimensional space of representation, toward the void.
These works are read from the outside, from their reception process and the meaning attributed to them; it becomes a matter of the observer’s projection, aesthetic and ideological investment. The difference between works in the same series also ends up residing precisely in the experience of the individual in contact with the work, a perceptual experience that is amplified by the repeated encounter and that makes the work always present, and therefore timeless.
Alighiero Boetti, considered one of the fathers of Arte Povera, invites the viewer to further participate in the activation of his works. From the very beginning of his work, he invites the viewer to physically wander through an art installation to the point of creating intellectual games to explore mentally. The artist’s work lends itself particularly well to the theme of the exhibition, as it consists of series in which repetition and variation are central, through the gestures used, the formats chosen and the subjects represented. The exhibition features his famous embroideries, designed by Boetti and made by Afghan embroiderers. Words and phrases are articulated, readable according to rules established by the artist. The reading is deliberately counterintuitive, and the viewer is confronted with an artistic puzzle that brings him or her closer to the artist. Time spent deciphering the puzzle imprints the phrase, poem or folk expression more permanently in the viewer’s mind.