Omaggio al Quadrato
13 October — 05 November 2005
"It is an elementary, primary geometrical figure. Which art has made a legend The symbol of extraordinary experience. Synonymous with experimentation, innovation and revolution linked to the way things are seen and represented. An excellent support for concepts, theories, and reflections on the meaning of form and colour. A compositive module for the creation of original, varied interactive, articulated aesthetic accumulations. With its archetypical, axiomatic, unequivocal physiognomy, the square has generated Modern imaginary from Cézanne to Kandinsky to Michael Heizer, and from the Suprematism to the Conceptual. Characterising research into art, but also reflecting the aesthetic of time, the identity of industrial culture and the style of its products. Inextricably linked to the birth of Malevich’s black monochrome. Associated with Joseph Albers’ polychrome “homages”, with Giulio Paolini’s “squared circles”, or with Alighiero Boetti’s “squared names”. Inspiring Henry Moore’s bodies or Sol Lewitt’s grids, but also shaping architectures like the Philip Johnson’s “Glass House” or historical design artefacts like the Brionvega “CuboTV”. The square has not lost today any of its allure and seductive power.
Particularly for contemporary artists like Neil Campbell, Gabriel Kuri, Jim Lambie, Steven Shearer, Simon Starling, Francesco Vezzoli, who conceive the work as an original interaction of memory and the present, art and life, philology and imagination, unseen and déjà-vu. Brought together in the exhibition “Homage to the Square”, and sustained by a mutual attention-passion for the myths and products of the masses, commonplaces and excellent examples of modern culture, the six artists have developed the theme from fascinating and subjective points of view, favouring different technical solutions. While Simon Starling is sinking a copy of Henry Moore’s "Maquette for a Square Form with Cut”(1969) in the Ontario Lake, allowing zebra mussels from the Black Sea to grow on it and rapidly take over, Jim Lambie uses a quantity of record covers “to personalize” the floor of the gallery.
And while a sample of the road tarmac is square for Gabriel Kuri, cut out of life, transposed into art and suspended on two drink cans, for Steven Shearer a child’s drawing becomes a work of art, almost in an attempt to transcend any privileged cultural preconception of the form. He appears to want to upturn and confuse the things that we know, to transcend the history of art, to transform the work of art in a human information, a personal and/or collective memory. His work should be seen from a kid’s height, an eight-year-old “artist”, while that of Neil Campbell takes on the dimensions of a wall-drawing. His contribution is produced directly on the wall and envisages a geometrical pattern of circles inscribed in the square, a modular pattern halfway between art and decoration, bi-dimensional quality and three-dimensional effects.
Francesco Vezzoli is a major inspiration to this thematic exhibition, and he creates a fascinating weave inspired by Joseph and Anni Albers in his work, painting and embroidery, colours and textures, paying tribute to male and female contributions, the high and low of avant-garde output. The square is always the focal point, expressing its inexhaustible vitality, as it echoes the past and conveys the present, highlighting a series of passions and procedures, between grills made of adhesive tape and a weave of mat stitch, drawings and elements in relief. With very different imaginative approaches, the six artists on show have all succeeded in tackling the subject from distinct and clear-cut viewpoints.
Impassioned connoisseurs of modern Utopias, they become critical observers of the prerogatives and incongruities of our recent past. Trying to come to terms with investigations, elaborations, and interpretations based on the discovery and analysis of extremely marginal, but yet absolutely specialist, topics. Distinguished by the singular approach to the étant-donné of the 20th century. Merciless, irreverent observers of contemporary rites, rhythms, myths and products, they seem to share a capacity to break the boundaries of the specific. A desire to break free, from music to design to cinema, in different imaginary and linguistic environments. Needing to render their personal relationship with existence more spectacular. And at this point, the square, which is no longer a strict, indicative support to experiment and sublimate Weimer’s theories of colour, nor the primary module without ambiguity and the superfluous of Minimal and Conceptual Art, still maintains a mythical and varied evocative power. It is an epoch-making intermediary and a generational symbol with which artists like Campbell, Kuri, Lambie, Shearer, Starling and Vezzoli can interact, dialogue, and compare themselves. Creating textures of space-time-cultural references. Triggering off unpredictable processes of association. Destabilising the knowledge."