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Lots of goods reasons for creating something impossible...

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 extreme result of a way of thinking that had, in other contexts, interpreted modernism as an unstoppable process headed towards the total flatness in which the whole essence of painting needed to be summarised. The discovery of two-dimensionality, fruit of long critical reflection, had led painting to yield to the, first and foremost physical, nature of its medium.

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.

In the spring of 2019, Marco Almaviva created three works with the structural features of the painting theorised by Kaisserlian: each artefact, similar to an oil on canvas, has the character of a painted surface but such that the painting preceded the formation of the support.

There is, therefore, no pre-existing physical extension upon which to apply the paint.

And if the practical premise of the plane is missing, so are the basic conditions that make it possible to conceive the painting in terms of compositionality. No pre-existing reference can be identified as a tangible precondition for the construction of the painting, no past phase of painting can establish itself as practical confirmation upon which to base the evolution of the pictorial work.

The canonical distinction between the recto and verso of the picture is eliminated: the original procedure adopted for their expression entails close correspondence between the two sides of the painting, symmetrically resolved in an organic unity that does not permit the separation of the painted surface from the picture’s support.

Beyond the verticality of the picture, beyond the horizontality of the flatbed picture plane.

Every a priori reference to a possible flatness has vanished.

But the painting, before the canvas, in its process and in its conclusive objectification, remains.

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