Giorgio Griffa

From 21 September to 17 November 2023

In an exhibition that traces Giorgio Griffa’s career from the 1970s to the 1990s, the works on display document the Turin-based artist (b. 1936) and his way of making art, an approach that is both a physical and mental activity.

His vision of naturalism, exemplified in his well-known statement that he was representing nothing but merely painting, is based on a special harmony between the colours, forms and rhythms of the pictorial elements and how they are arranged on the unprimed canvas.

An internal rhythm, almost a poetic periodicity, traverses the works. It runs through them with a simple graphic phrasing that is never formalist but always vibrant, spontaneous and generative, albeit controlled and never an artful kind of “action painting”. This is evident in his habit of painting on a horizontal surface to avoid drips.

The unprimed rough canvases are blotted with the traces of a passage. They resound with spontaneous graphisms and chromatic vibrations, making this continuous variation in the painting not unlike musical phrasing and its tones: scales, counterpoints, and accents in beats and upbeats.

Patience and gradualness underpin this iterative and non-evolutionary painting, building a free metric language made up of the slightest appearances, almost exudations and distant mnestic traces. These can be seen from the works on exhibit from the 1970s up to the more complex and varied compositions of recent decades, such as the Arabeschi [Arabesques], with stronger scattered strokes, numbers and much more marked rhythmic and chromatic resonances.

Considered one the fundamental artists of Analytical Painting in the 1970s, Giorgio Griffa has his own special version of it, a way of making art that is phenomenal and even atmospheric. It defines an internal naturalistic space, outside any mimetic or representational concern, as can be seen by his participation in the major international exhibitions dedicated to the analytical group since the early 1970s: “Processi di pensiero visualizzato” (1970), “Contemporanea”, “La riflessione sulla pittura” and “Io non rappresento nulla, io dipingo” (1973), “Geplante Malerei” (1974), “Concerning Painting” (1975), “Cronaca” and “I colori della pittura” (1976), “Bilder ohne Bilder” (1977), the Venice Biennale in 1978 and 1980. In 2017, he was invited to exhibit again at the Venice Biennale curated by Christine Macel and the fitting title of his work was “Viva Arte Viva”.

In fact, with the same organic freshness as life, Giorgio Griffa uses the canvas as a vital field of appearances and traces, never framed, but hung with naturalness and freedom to show folds, stains and notations. It is the apparition of the passage of time, which through the internal rhythm of sign phrasing, becomes the true protagonist of an open and generative painting, impossible to reduce to the constraints of compositional logic or a perceptual and gestalt approach. It is painting in mutation that has managed to refuse to develop into a style, preserving unaltered with every brushstroke its emotional and contemplative pulse.

Press release

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