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Seventy years after the emergence of Spatialism, why is it still important to think about making an ‘oil on canvas’ without the canvas?

June 26, 2019

 

Friday, 28 June 2019, 5.00 PM

Spazio46, Palazzo Ducale, GENOA

 

Participants:

 

Paolo BENSI, Professor of the History of Painting Technique, Department of Architecture and Design, University of Genoa;

 

Sandro RICALDONE, Art Critic and Director of Entr’acte.

 

Milan, 1965 – The issue emerged with crystal clarity during a conversation with Giorgio Kaisserlian. Everything started from the canvas, experienced as obstacle or impediment that needed to be overcome in order to continue towards infinity. And the creation of the canvas/shape, beyond painting and sculpture.

The dynamic of the innovation, of projecting beyond, left no room for misunderstandings: with the Attese, the old mentality and traditional way of being an artist were by that point a closed chapter, first and foremost the deep-rooted idea of the canvas as a flat support upon which to ‘found’ and organise one’s work.

The zeroing of painting. The decisive act that by that point no longer permitted painting to make use of the canvas, as if the canvas itself had been requisitioned and confined to a place inaccessible to artists.

Whence the necessary concept/limit that stepped in to define and give full meaning to Fontana’s resolution. Since the canvas could no longer be used, the logic of the innovation consequentially led to the conception of a paradoxical event: the creation of a painting, specially an oil on canvas, without a canvas.

An obligatory but impracticable (so one would think) step.

A nullifying value recognised by the art world. The impossibility of the canvas was expressed above all in terms of a conceptualisation that hinged on the ‘undisplayed properties’ of the work of art. Or imaginary possible worlds are foreshadowed as deviation from the interdiction underway.

But the semantic density of a new idea is not measured in terms of the imaginary evasion of restrictions, but rather the acceptance of restrictive conditions that need to be reckoned with.

Between 1947 and 1958, a very narrow range of possibilities led to the canvas/shape and the consequential concept/limit of the ‘oil on canvas’ without a canvas. It is now a matter of surpassing this last limit, within the terms of something new. A prototype that is physically an ‘oil on canvas’ without its necessary premise constituted by the canvas. 

Every reasonable attempt to surpass the limit is a good reason for trying to create what is considered impossible.

There are, therefore, good reasons for giving shape to the impossible.

 

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