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Romain Blanck. Feuilles, Tests, Feuilles, Toiles, Eng

Romain Blanck
Feuilles, Tests, Feuilles, Toiles,

Padua (I), Multiplo
October ― November 2019

Getting lost
Daniele Capra

Romain Blanck’s paintings are created through the use of primary forms combined on several layers over a monochrome surface, in a sort of free-word poetry belonging to a primary visual vocabulary. The artist has built up an immense database of these over the years: he collects sheets of paper, or notebook pages, where people have tried out pens, felt tips and markers in stationery shops and art supply stores. Each line, each drawing or even the smallest visual unit is used by the artist as an independent element of meaning, a lexicon through which he articulates a discourse characterized by minimal grammar and syntactical anarchy. The canvas is thus the place for a scribble, a squiggle, a zigzagging snake to test the thickness of a pen, a doodle to test its colour, or a swirl to engage a bored pen in writing, a pen whose ink is dry until someone picks it up.

Blanck’s painting is procedural and substantially aniconic, based on the continuous layering of elements. These components visually recall street art or graffiti made with spray cans. The artist interacts with the elements that inspire him by organizing their flow with a systematic and scientific approach, like electronic musicians constructing a song, or compiling a concert playlist, mixing the samples they have collected and ordered. In other words, the artist traces a path, which is different each time, using the items made by unsuspecting content producers. They are not authors, but become so because of the ways in which the work is created. The work is also the result of continuous overlapping, a process of constant remaking by the artist, layering the elements until the visual energy that emerges from their combination is more powerful than the algebraic sum of the single parts. This is in fact a traditional part of the creative process in painting where the artist constantly considers whether adding more details would increase or decrease the power of the work in progress. What emerges from this is a sort of sedimentation of visual writing, in a collective and totally unconscious form: it is an exquisite corpse where the artist is the hidden director, playing the same role as chance in combining the words in the game invented by the Surrealists.

Blanck’s artistic practice to some degree recalls the way a geographer might work, but with an anthropological approach. There is an initial reconnaissance (in stationery shops, in the streets) and then a subsequent rethinking and relocation onto a surface in an ordered way (with a criterion that puts together the information conveyed by each element). This is comparable to a geographer carrying out a survey of the territory and then putting together a map highlighting the significant elements of a given area. However, the artist is not involved in creating maps that correspond to anything, he is not interested in the correct scale, the exactness of the representation or the perfect correspondence to the Cartesian coordinates. The places and the significant elements that he selects for each canvas create maps that are out of scale, imaginary and schizophrenic. Differently from maps, the observer does not need to understand where they are or how to move through the area. Instead they are free to not understand, get the wrong idea or make mistakes. And getting lost can become a pleasure.

Isabella Nazzarri. Clinamen Eng

Isabella Nazzarri

Genoa (I), ABC-Arte
October 2017 ― January 2018

Daniele Capra

Stationaries and nomads
Artists who practice painting in a continuous, exclusive way and way of the identity – that is, mirroring themselves completely in their work, in a way in which the work responds freely to their expressive urges, without any (aware) mediation with other needs – can be roughly classified into two categories, without going to far. The first is that of the stationary, i.e. those who shape their own identity as a unitary construction, as a building that often grows horizontally or, in the fortunate case of excellent artists, upward: they are those whose works visually resemble and in whose work recognize, generally afterwards, continuous micro-changes (which critics often like to subdivide, in a somewhat pedantic way, into periods). The other category is that of the nomads, of those who like to move and not choose a fixed place of residence, but prefer to change their homes, or in some cases furnish different houses in different ways: their somatic feature in painting is to change style or to adopt at the same time different ones, to surprise the gazes of the spectators, without any intimate need to be immediately recognizable.

Isabella Nazzarri clearly belongs to the second category, for the strong tendency to practice painting as exploration and to move freely by experimenting techniques, approaches and styles. We could say that – regardless of being carried out on the canvas or in the most liquid form of the watercolor – it is the same action of painting her true subject: the gesture of coloring and dragging the brush on the surface, in a continuous negotiation between control and centrifugal anarchic impulses. Subsequently the subject manifests itself, revealing to our gaze in the form of an image; but it is only a final steady form, a simple chromatic coagulation of stimuli that, in the head and the hand of the artist, lead elsewhere to the next exploration or to a new experiment, without any concern either being identified or being an already solved equation in the spectator’s head.

In the poem De Rerum natura Titus Lucretius Caro transposes the principles of Epicureanism, and he translates the Greek word parénklisis to the Latin noun clinamen – that is, according the philosopher’s physics, the swerve of falling atoms that makes possible the freedom of humans from materialistic determinism. The concept of Clinamen guarantees therefore human freedom from deterministic form, by allowing our will to express itself in a fulfilled form. The word of Clinamen expresses the free, fluid and nomadic creative path of Isabella Nazzarri, characterized by continuous small movements and daily micro-deviations, where individual freedom is strengthened by the presence of casualties due to the momentary condition. The practice of free will, not only in painting, prevents the artist from being imprisoned with repetitive forms or a deadly consistency, and avoids the condition of the one who speaks by using words already written. Clinamen is therefore the guarantee that you can experience a journey without worrying too much about the place it will conduct or the meetings you can make.

For Nazzarri, the work is an experience, an episode of a walk in the city where you can have new stimuli and you can end up freely in a place that you had not previously thought. The mere staticity of the finished work needs to be understood as the result of a transient condition, similar to the flâneur condition Charles Baudelaire wrote in the renowned Le Peintre de la vie moderne: the freedom to move, even casually, is in fact one of the generating elements of her works. And this does not happen only when freedom take on a two-dimensional form but, for example, in Monadi‘s case (transparent ampoules filled with coloured resins placed on a mirror) or Epifanie (golden rocks made of polyurethane foam), where the choice of form and the use of materials are the result of its constant urban walk-through as a flâneur. A route made of temporal continuity, but also of unlimited variations which are the basis of her paintings and sculptures. In particular, Nazzarri’s approach is the result of gestures and measure which, itself, produce the shapes we see condensed onto the canvas or in sculptural form. In a broader sense, the same creation of sculptural / installation works – which contain the same explorative and libertarian expressive instances that are at the basis of pictorial practice – is inspired by a continuous and inexhaustible nomadic practice of painting, of which it represents a further extension.

The Clinamen exhibition is built to give the visitor the errant mode of Isabella Nazzarri’s artistic practice. It delves into the uncertain emotional horizon and condenses it in different ways summarizing the works of the artist of the last two years of research. The Air Room displays Nazzarri’s last two-dimensional works on canvas and paper, in which not-figurative and gestural elements are painted over flat colour surfaces. Stronger marks and liquid brushes alternate freely by occupying the surface in anarchic and seemingly random way, as a result of a visual process in which emotional approach and method are blended. The Mirror Room, in a more intimate atmosphere, displays three-dimensional works created by the use of resins, color and translucent elements. The works, some glass ampoules which are characterized by great executive freedom, are arranged above a mirror showing the spectator what at first glance is hidden. The Gold Room is dedicated to new sculptures made of synthetic materials, which evoke the feel of a constellation of metaphysical and surprising rocks, as a revelation of something we can not known or understand. The space is transformed in an aerial landscape to see above our head dreaming of far-away worlds. Are they the intermundia inhabited by the gods who do not care about us, as Epicurus reported?