Word on the Fair - 9 Text-Based Artworks That Marked Artissima 2019

November 3, 2019

René Magritte’s 1928-29 painting of a smoking pipe may have not been so revolutionary hadn’t it had a writing that said “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” - “this pipe is not a pipe”. It was one small sentence, yet one big shock for the art world and our understanding of what art is at large.

Text-based art surely isn’t a new thing, having taken off in the 1960s and, as we can see at Artissima 2019, it is still very much alive and well. Among the many media presented by more than 200 galleries at the Italian contemporary art fair, words have come to play an important role in my opinion, appearing across a nice variety of supports and recalling different events and people.

On the very last day of this year’s edition, we bring you our selection of text-based artworks offered by Artissima 2019 galleries at the OVAL in Turin.

All images copyright Widewalls.

Maurizio Nannucci at Galleria Enrico Astuni

Celebrating his 80th birthday in 2019, Mauruzio Nannucci is a celebrated Italian artist known for his light installations. At Galleria Enrico Astuni, we see a writing saying “Moving between different opportunities and open singularities” written in green neon lights, referring to thoughts of Hannah Arendt. It is interesting to note that Nannucci rarely works with circular shapes.

Featured image: Maurizio Nannucci - Moving between different opportunities and open singularities, 2017/2018. Neon in green Murano glass, 2,5 m diameter. Galleria Enrico Astuni.

Paolo Cirio at Galleria Giorgio Persano

A text-covered mirror, Meaning (Context) is a 2019 piece by Paolo Cirio, drawn by the artist to display his semiotic theory about the formation of meaning on the internet. It invites viewers for a self-introspection via a series of words like “experience” or “time, through which we are to question the significance of the online world in our lives and in our society. The work is a part of a triptych, the other two being Subjectivity and Collectivity.

Featured image: Paolo Cirio - Meaning (Context), 2019. Acrylic on engraved mirror glass, 142 x 142 cm. Galleria Giorgio Persano.

Marzia Migliora at Lia Rumma

A great Italian visual artist paying homage to a great Italian director, poet, writer, and intellectual. At Galleria Lia Rumma, Marzia Migliora’s long sequence of polished steel letters creates a poignant phrase. Translated, it means “I may be wrong. But I still say we’re all in danger”, and it was said by Pier Paolo Pasolini only a few hours before he was murdered.

Featured image: Marzia Migliora - Pier Paolo Pasolini, 2009. Wall writing, composed on stainless glossy steel letters (30 gr), cut by laser. Lia Rumma.

Adam Pendleton at Pedro Cera

Through his multimedia art that includes painting, collage, performance and video, Adam Pendleton examines abstraction’s relationship with politics, identity and language. At Pedro Cera, the Artissima visitors can see two of his Black Dada paintings, one saying “We The People” (reminiscing of Christopher Wool), and the other “Not We Not We Are Not Us”.

Cristina Garrido at LMNO

Inside otherwise empty frames lie small writings: Swiss sculptor, American Indian Artist, Peruvian Conceptualist, German Painting, Artists from the Baltics. These are the works of the Madrid-based artist Cristina Garrido, whose multimedia art focuses on the study of the exhibition and the curatorial practice.

Haim Steinbach at Vistamarestudio

Haim Steinbach is an Israeli artist living in the US who most often works with peculiar objects and text. Here, we see big black letters writing on the wall what can be translated as “a safe roof in all the world”. Quite an eye-catching site at Artissima 2019!

Featured image: Haim Steinbach - un tetto sicuro in tutto il mondo, 1991. Text in black matte vinyl, dimensions variable. Vistamarestudio.

Reena Spaulings at Campoli Presti

Reena Spaulings works with many media, but flags seem to hold a special place in her oeuvre. At Artissima, we see five of them, dedicated to Pierre Klossowski’s book Living Currency and featuring texts and images from it. The publication offers an analysis of economic production as a mechanism of psychic production of desires.

Featured images: Reena Spaulings - Living Currency Flags, 2012. Five inkjet prints on ‘flag’ material, aluminum poles, plastic eagles, 91.4 x 152.4 cm each. Campoli Presti.

Matteo Attruia at Massimo De Luca

The ironic, to-the-point work of Matteo Attruia can hardly escape anyone at Artissima, as Massimo De Luca’s stand is filled with them. Our eye was best caught by an artwork that appears to be a window, on which the word “SERIOUS” is written. Upon the changing of the window blind behind it, we see another word, “TOO”. Finally, once the blind opens, “I cannot be” appears, completing the circle.

Loredana Longo at Francesco Pantaleone

Last but not least is the work of Loredana Longo, juxtaposed with that of Stefano Arienti at the booth of Francesco Pantaleone. Longo’s works are on the floor in form of carpets which at first sight may not seem so particular. Upon a closer look however, we see writings such as “THE IDEALS ARE THE STARTING POINT FOR EVERY REVOLUTION” or “EACH ONE OF US CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE”. The artist often uses words in her work, applying it to three-dimensional objects as well.

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Paolo Cirio