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"Politi’s brush strokes conjure everything from Abstract Expressionist scumbling to Tiepolo-like sunsets.”
(Roberta Smith, New York Times)
McNamara Art Projects and Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma, are pleased to present Bodybuilding, the first show by Italian artist Gianni Politi in Asia, featuring a series of newly developed abstract paintings made using scraps of canvas with acrylic, oil and household paint and a series of portraits on canvas.
Politi’s abstract paintings typically expose the process the artist uses to move from a body of work to the next, employing the materials that were discarded from previous works to re-evaluate the dignity of new work, which was temporarily left behind in the process of selection and creation. Everything that happens in the studio matters for Politi. His work centres precisely on the struggle of the artist in his tension to move toward the finished work and the invention of new forms of expression; his art facilitates the foundation of this process.
It does so while being deeply indebted to Italian tradition: abstract forms become references to modern Italian art, freely interpreted and transfigured. Like Burri, Politi’s methods are unconventional and make use of sparse resources. He recycles materials, including industrial and commercial canvas, he creates abstract collage constructions made from torn cloth, roughly glued together and stretched across the canvas. In conjunction with this, Politi’s larger sized abstract canvases seem to create an innovative bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Twentieth-century Italian masters; this reference is being established between Politi’s use of colour, predominantly referring to Italian archival paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries, and the re-evaluation of these aspects in a fluid and abstracted form language.
Politi’s portraits on the other hand explore tradition through the theme of memory: these oil paintings on canvas measuring 24 x 18 cm, derive from a process of mental reconstruction, starting from the study of a 1770 portrait by Gaetano Gandolfi. The original portrait shows the face of a bearded man that reminded Politi of his father who died aged 78 when the artist was just 16 years old. What emerged from this catalyst encounter was an enquiry into memory and the faint trace of a father’s face and a parallel exercise of painting using different techniques, colours, degrees of fidelity or abstraction.
Painting, destruction and recreation are essential aspects in the vocabulary of Gianni Politi’s oeuvre, they are the tools Politi employs to bring an abstracted trace of the sentiment that permeates the studio during his hours of creative production, onto the canvas.