Glasses with grappa and lead shapes
22.04.06 | 04.11.06
Despite the fragility of their material, the glasses full of grappa and burdened with the weight of the lead shapes reveal an unexpected capacity for stability, equilibrium, and resistance, which they are granted by a dense and geometrically rigorous arrangement. Lined up like well-organized troops, they invade the space with the graceful transparency of their regular forms, they sensitize it olfactorily, and they punctuate it musically in the harmonious frequencies of an unchanging quantity of repeated measure. They stand in contrast to the irregular shapes of lead, which are indebted to the biomorphism of Hans Art and are derived from the images of faces that rest on the glasses. These are the same images that appear in the large black drawings exhibited in Rome in 1977, in the Pio Monti gallery, where an anxious and anti-decorative line, shared by the painting of Edvard Munch, is utilized by Kounellis to trace a crowded multitude of emaciated and shrieking faces, skeleton-faces forged out of shadow to bear witness to a dark uneasiness. They are faces modeled in negative, starting with the shadow and stain, since all the shadows and all the stains are anthropomorphic and retain within themselves the existence of the gesture and the flesh that has generated them. Indeed Kounellis explains: “There is no stain that does not resemble a man” (J. Kounellis in B. Corà, Jannis Kounellis: sulla storia, la lingua, gli equivoci, il teatro, “AEIOU”, n. 1, Roma, September 1980, reproduced in J.-C. Ammann et al., 1983, p. 150).
The same glasses of grappa appear at the Kunsthalle in Recklinghausen, in 1993, but reduced in number and arranged on a table, and unburdened by the weight of the lead shapes.
The same dense arrangement of repeated modules also recurs in other works, such as the jugs full of sea water or blood, exhibited in Capodimonte in 1989 (ripr. in G. Moure et al., 1996, p. 179).
In Kounellis’s earliest works one can already glimpse this tension between a search for historic and poetic identity and a desire to break with the status quo by opening ...
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Galleria Pietro Spartà, Chagny, 1988; Castello di Rivoli – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Torino, 1988; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1990; Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milano, 1992; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 1996