Jannis Kounellis “Cosmogonia di oggetti comuni” at C+N Canepaneri Gallery, Milan
C+N Canepaneri Gallery has pleasure in presenting Cosmogony of everyday objects, an exhibition dedicated to Jannis Kounellis (Piraeus, Greece, 1936-Rome 2017). A year after his death, the show celebrates one of the key players of contemporary Italian art, offering a cycle of works of the 1990s and early 21st century, representative of the artist’s poetics. Works exhibited are editions of 25 but, in their own way, they are individual pieces, fragments, thought, and language. The artist encapsulated everyday objects (pastels, pages from newspapers, shoes and musical instruments) in the isolated space of metal boxes as though they were archaeological finds of our time. They aren’t immaculate in appearance but ‘lived’ – the pictorial sign, the written word, simply the arrangement of the items distances the object from the ready-made and turns it into the centrepiece of a sort of puzzle or charade.
The feeling that the objects aren’t inert but active is accentuated by the dialogue between the inside and outside of the box. Like little cosmogonies, the clearly defined spaces, ‘anaesthetised’ by glass, are the world on a small scale and, ideally, are related to it. In Untitled (yellow train box), the relationship between the inside and outside are then actually experienced with the train that uses its rail as a knife and seems to want to escape from the work. In Untitled (sewing machine), the sewing machine seems to connect its niche and the outside of the box with its stitching action.
Metaphorically, Kounellis’s containers can be seen as depictions of the human mind with its reservoir of more or less reliable memories, impressions and systems of belief. The confines of the work coincide with the unstable confines separating individual and world. But, beyond the visual anecdote, what counts is the philosophical exploration of the dynamics of language. The relationship between the object and its name, the dynamics leading from the sign to a complex expression, the intersections between verbal language and expression through images, rational thought and unconscious and instinctive associations. Through their aesthetics and the topics dealt with, the Boxes are representative of both Kounellis’s initial poetics, more closely linked to Arte Povera, and its subsequent evolutions.
at C+N Canepaneri Gallery, Milan
until 15 September 2018