In the past, art was expected to transfer the object, or work of art, from the inanimate to the animate world. Now, since we know that the whole world is animate, the task of the artist is to interact with the intelligence of matter.
Apparently simple, these signs are steeped in references of an extraordinary complexity, derived from the history of painting, including the memory of Stone Age paintings themselves: if “the past is not a father to be killed but a mother who gives nourishment”, the poetics of this series of ceramic slabs aim not to reveal an absolute truth but to offer the subtlest of suggestions, almost a fragrance, in a work which is both partial and infinite.
About the collection
In the EURIDICE project, Giorgio Griffa continues his journey into the territories of the meaningful use of signs, an intimate, unique experiment in which he interacts with the intelligence of matter and explores its innermost structures.
The series created for CEDIT is strictly linked to the pictorial style and distinctive “graphic language” the artist has developed over his long career, also featuring his extremely subtle use of colour, the result of a relationship with the chromatic universe which, in Griffa’s case, plays a major role in specifically identifying his works; the painted surfaces are geometrical reflections, linked by a relationship of mutual reliance and reciprocal interplay and attempting, not only with grace but also with lucid, intelligent obstinacy, to establish a balance between primary forms and space, managing to express, in the synthesis of this concise painterly language, the meaning of the work of art and of thought which transcends its time because it silently establishes itself within the web of history.
These are the concepts underlying EURIDICE, a dreamlike sequence, a blend of past and future, ancient and contemporary, which digs into the past, starting from the Orpheus myth, to emphasise the present’s urgent need to find a sense of necessary depth, not just a “sudden flash of enlightenment” but an understanding achieved through passion and dedication.
As Griffa interprets it, Orpheus’s journey into the underworld is a desperate attempt to explore the most mysterious part of the self, which cannot be grasped by rationality and disappears as soon as it is seen; Orpheus crosses the threshold of Hades in search of his female, creative side, which is pure mystery and therefore cannot emerge above the Earth and is trapped and sedimented in its womb.
The artist’s distinctive graphic signs appear on the ceramic slabs in the collection as the expressions of concentration and a desire for knowledge; since they represent only themselves, they encourage the viewer to accept the truth of which they are the bearers.
Giorgio Griffa: I do not portray anything, I paint
Giorgio Griffa is perhaps the last of the great Italian neo-avantgarde painters. An associate of the artists of the Arte Povera movement, he evolved his pictorial language in 1967 and 1968, in a context dominated by informal, Tachist and abstract-expressionist poetics. His paintings, with their uncomplicated compositions of lines and signs drawn on the raw canvas, are based on a concept of painting as repeated action, rhythmic and almost writerly. This apparent simplicity actually conceals an extraordinarily complex set of references to the history of painting and the memory of the act of painting itself, dating all the way back to the caves of the Stone Age. The result is a mysterious dialectic of simplicity and complexity, structure and poetry, minimalism and lyricism, avantgarde and tradition. Features which make this Italian artist’s work subtly lyrical, in spite of its conceptual origins. These characteristics appear to place Griffa’s work in an indefinite time, where past and future, ancient and contemporary, can finally mingle.
Director of the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève
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Giorgio Griffa (Turin, 1936), artist, has been a leading figure on the international arts scene and one of the most respected contemporary painters ever since the 1960s. In 1968 he abandoned the figurative style to evolve a new language, used throughout his career as a painter: the canvas is peopled with elementary signs in water-based acrylic paint applied to the raw surface (jute, hemp, cotton or linen), which is left “bare”, without a frame.