Lucio Fontana @ Gagosian
Lucio Fontana, Ambienti Spaziali a Luce Nero,1949
In his Manifesto Blanco of 1946 Lucio Fontana exclaims “we are living in a mechanical age. Painted canvas and standing plastic figures no longer have any reason to exist.” Following in the steps of Futurism and preceding the Arte Povera movement Fontana’s introduction of Spazialismo or Spatialist art aimed to embrace the new technologies available to post-war artists in an attempt to reach the fourth dimension. After his arrival to Italy from Argentina in 1947 in a series of temporary environmental installations and the destruction of the two dimensional canvas through both cuts and additions Fontana attempted to lead art into a realm of collaboration with theories of contemporary science at the time. His widely known slashed canvases transform the two dimensional object into another dimension that is unreachable behind the canvas’ taut plane. Behind the canvas the color black is used in his work as a symbol of infinite space. This is reflected in popular notions of the deep dark sea or outer space as an unknown entity holding the answers to a milieu of mysteries that will seemingly never be answered as space itself unfurls into more space and the microscopic view so ardently longed for will remain infinitely unattainable. Lucio Fontana desperately sought to understand this unknown darkness and how it operates as an invisible force in plain view.
The most captivating works in the Germano Celant curated Lucio Fontana retrospective at the Gagosian gallery are those that stem furthest from the range of his widely celebrated slashed canvases. Six of his Ambienti Spaziali, equally positioned throughout the gallery, were recreated for this exhibition and most of the Concetto Spaziale on view present a series of stabbings that range from the extremely violent to the questioning pokes of a poetic surgeon. The chronological nature of the exhibition allows each room to present a concise look at the variations of experimentation that Fontana developed in his search of an art that would transcend tradition and enter upon a new realm of understanding. The spectacle nature of the Ambienti Spaziali brings out the inherent qualities of the Concetto Spaziale as objects that should not be read as a painting, but as a medium of understanding and a vehicle for transporting oneself into a new dimension.
Ambienti Spaziali a Luce Nero (Spatial Environment in Black Light), 1949, brings us into the shadowy black space of the holes and cuts in his canvas works. After entering a thin completely dark hallway into a small room illuminated by an obscured overhead black light shining on abstract papier mache figures one immediately feels as if they have journeyed into the fourth dimension that is hidden behind the two dimensional canvases that Fontana is so intent on destroying. The glowing abstract figures float in space above the viewer’s head. This is closely repeated in Luce Spaziale, 1951, an environmental piece that was first designed for the Triennale di Milano. Unlike Ambiente Spaziale a Luce Nero, in Luce Spaziale the object itself, a thin swirling fluorescent light, is the source of energy imposing itself into a white space. Whether exploring the metaphysics of space through cuts, holes, or environments, Fontana’s conception and use of Spatialism is thoroughly defined through the repetitive aspect of his approach that nears towards an insatiable obsession with the void.
Lucio Fontana: Ambienti Spaziali is on view at Gagosian until June 30th, 2012
all images courtesy of gagosian.com