Gabriele De Santis. Truth be told

19 Jan — 4 Mar 2017 at Frutta in Rome, Italy

Truth be told, 2017, Installation View, Frutta
Truth be told, 2017, Installation View, Frutta
12 FEB 2017

Look carefully around you: the five artworks by the Italian artist Alighiero Boetti here shown constitute an exceptional set. Five different works, made in different moments over the artist’s career, between 1968 and 1994, the date of his premature death: but yet, all together as they are, they appear to converge into a landscape of great coherence.

Two self-portraits delimitate the show: on one side the photographic doubling of the artist into two twin brothers, a gesture attested to on the letter, in which the artist manages to slip in his name and his surname, Alighiero and Boetti.This fake twinning is part of the interior decentralisation of his practise, which, through his travels, in Afghanistan in particular, represent an extensive drift out of an eurocentric conceptual art.

“I is another”, said Rimbaud, “ I is a collective”, said Boetti – an one can affirm that all his solo shows always assume the heterogenous aspect of a collective. From the other far end of this artist’s life there has been placed the famous sculpture Autoritratto, his last work, a self-portrait in bronze that tragically evokes the brain tumour that would soon bring to death one of the key figures – but at the same time a marginal one – of Arte Povera.

Time passed by between these two self-portraits, as the date 1984 demonstrates: from 1977 to 1994 Boetti produced every year between 50 and 200 models of these Orologi annuali, displaying the time both accurately and generically, a work both magnificent and full of humor.

Time goes by yet differently in the great pages of the blue ocean, filled in with the biro pen of the same color (Mettere Al Mondo il Mondo), with tiny commas to form the poetry of this lazy action turned into artwork.

This is also a case in which we find ourselves in front of the collective: the work, part of a series of hand-made models, but made by different anonymous individuals, sometimes even made by the Roman students of Boetti, call into question the traditionally “singular” role of the artist. In other words through him, what is shown in this set is Boetti’s very evident idea that art proposes more than aesthetic forms: life forms.

Look around you carefully again, you won’t be surprised to know that only under certain circumstances it was possible to see all these works coming together and on the market through showing at Frutta gallery.

A necessary condition was the manifesting failure of an Italian contemporary art museum during the years of Berlusconi, forced to re-sell different artworks from its collections, among which are the bluish pieces of Mettere Al Mondo il Mondo. Since Boetti donated these annual clocks to acquaintances of his entourage, it has been necessary that Jonathan Monk, in friendship, would give continuity to this gesture, by donating to the artist Gabriele De Santis the 1984 clock which was indeed given to him by Alighiero. Eventually, it has been necessary that a popular (and populist) board from Bergamo would vote in favour of removing the self-portrait in bronze from the public park of San Virgilio to have it placed here. The supplementary artworks have been made available by Alighiero and Boetti Foundation.

Curated by Jean-Max Colard, Art Critic, Responsible for Talks Programme at Centre Pompidou.