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Michelangelo Pistoletto: Origins and Consequences - Mazzoleni

Exhibition preview

MAZZOLENI has announced the exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto: Origins and Consequences. Curated by Alberto Fiz, it opens to the public on September 27 and continues until December 15, 2018.

Collating artworks from various private collections, this exhibition will focus on a selection of works spanning from 1958 to 2012, and will feature early figurative oils on canvas, works in charcoal on paper, acrylic, wood, bronze and glass, alongside silkscreens on stainless steel – the renowned ‘mirror works’ that define his oeuvre.

Pistoletto is one of the most distinguished figures within the Arte Povera movement. The exhibition will examine his early experimental period and elucidate the techniques that led to his mature work. It will feature three rare oil paintings on canvas depicting male portraits, including L’uomo nero, 1959.

These seminal works should be viewed as the hereditary seat of Pistoletto’s visual language; an arresting exploration of portraiture as well as an important precursor to the artist’s series of self-portraits on a reflective black background – his first works to explore the reflective device.

Pistoletto presented his first solo show in 1960 at Galleria Galatea in Turin. That same year he made several life-sized self-portraits on gold, silver and copper monochrome backgrounds. In 1962, he initiated the use of reflective materials by applying painted and later photographic-silkscreened images to highly-polished stainless steel, the ‘mirror works’ that have earned him an enduring international artistic reputation.

What animates the ‘mirror paintings’ is the duality of a fixed photo image placed on the surface of a reflective steel plate and the moving images produced by reflections of the viewer and their environment. The performative element of the works is completed by the observer who becomes the central protagonist.

Pistoletto comments of his work: “It suggested a double projection, into the wall and out into the space of the viewer. In a way it integrated painting and sculpture”.

This is true of Dono di Mercurio allo Specchio (Mercury’s Gift to the Mirror), 1971, where a bronze statue of Venus is strategically placed by a mirror. Pistoletto forces the viewer to stand alongside Venus, judged to be the most beautiful woman of the classical world and enter into a visual dialogue. The poetry of the mundane is once more elevated, echoing Pistoletto’s renowned Art Povera work, Venus of the Rags, 1967. However, in this case it is the viewer who is installed in its place.

In Donna con lampada, 1974, a silkscreen of a photographic image on stainless steel, a technique perfected in 1971, the drama of the piece is heightened by an image of photographer’s assistant (his wife) holding a lamp. The work is from a series produced with photographer Paolo Mussat Sartor, Pistoletto’s long-term collaborator in Turin, where the photographer and his wife became Pistoletto’s subjects – a photography shoot within a photography shoot.

Further works from the 80s, 90s and from 2010, will also be presented, including ‘black’ works on canvas, such as Tela Nera, 1985, and Specchio Nero, (Black Mirror), 1961-1989, a wood and glass work, where the artist explores the ‘dark’ reflection and contrasts the light with the void.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay in English and Italian by Alberto Fiz.

Admission: Free.

Gallery Hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm; Saturday from 11am to 5pm.

Mazzoleni, 27 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4HZ

Tel: +44 2074958805