Enamelled iron structure and aquarium
22.04.06 | 04.11.06
The close chronology between the series of seascapes Kounellis painted in 1963-66 and this work from 1967 leads one to hypothesize a relationship in working methodology and investigative approach, between the pictorial representation – however schematic and symbolic – of the sea, and the sea presented directly in the form of an aquarium. Placed above a tall metal base in the shape of a parallelepiped, Kounellis’s sea now acquires a third dimension and the status of “sculpture,” based on the confrontation-clash between the mobile and fluid element of water, the luminous transparency of the glass, and the tetragonic solidity of the base, impervious to the refraction of light.
Unlike the ironic and conceptual nature of About 32 Square Meters of Sea by Pino Pascali (1967), where that artist colored water with different gradations of blue and arranged it in containers, Kounellis’s gesture is characterized by a stricter compromise with reality and the water’s natural and “living” qualities, where it is inhabited by plants and clouded by debris.
Kounellis created a larger aquarium in 1997, for his solo exhibition at the Alfonso Artiaco gallery in Pozzuoli, and he showed the work again at the Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato in 2001 and at the Stedelijk Museum voor Aktuele Kunst in Ghent in 2002.
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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Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, 2004