Courtesy: Daimler Art Collection and the artist.
Photo: Vincent Mosh, Berlin.
Pietro Sanguineti „The Last Show“
If historical conceptual art sought to turn pictures into language, Pietro Sanguineti’s body of work goes the other way around, transforming language back into pictures. His sculptural word-objects, hanging or leaning against the walls are configured digitally and lavishly produced. Their hyperbolic, excessive corporality exceeds the ‘conceptual’ while utilizing the visual vocabulary of cartoons, advertisement, Minimalist sculpture or design of display windows. Within and against the tradition of painting, their sensuality as ‘shaped canvases’ is an outcome of technical production, and their forms, rather than being invented, are selected or picked up; they are always, already-made shapes, e.g., letters and signs, logos and words. Those words are overused like clichés, seductive like advertisement, meaningless like a mantra, meaningful like a zen poem or none of the above.
In „The Last Show“ the elevated, glazed purple percent sign (%, 2018) made of thin stainless steel, hovers on the backdrop of a wall paper with a repetitive pattern of the word ‘fun’, evoking a combination of entertainment and duty. The repetition of ‘fun’ not only deprives the word of vehemence, its accumulation into an all-over ornament is detached from meaning and becomes its own end. And while ‘fun’ is the über-imperative of our era (to ‘like!’) the percent sign stands in its shininess for the quantifying, yielding and profiting aligned with it, doomed, however, to be tilted by the limits of rationality. Lust (2018), the fetishistic counterpart of ‘fun’ and a morally denounced drive of sexual voracity or an appetite for something potentially unproductive, is communicated out of a graffiti-like, warm colored word-object that might burn to ashes as its blue cool opposite ‘fun’ is being preserved. The insides of the five hollow aluminum capital letters in Ashes (2018) are dark and reflective. Their white exteriors, metallic bold and definite curves, could not be further away from the ephemeral substance that ashes have stood for in the history of art. What’s left when the devouring smoke clears away? Paradoxically the physical presence of Sanguineti’s objects testify to their retreat from the burden of interpretation and fixed meaning.
While never ceasing to be a concrete form, wavering between reification and abstraction, between their status as a thing and an idea, Sanguineti’s objects also compose words that are suspended from their usage in everyday life. The double agency of the objects undermines a stable relationship between image and term. The limits defining a concept in language and the boundaries differentiating an image from another materialize here in space.