Threshold of Perception
Opening: Wednesday, September 9, 2015, 6 - 8pm
Exhibition dates: September 10 - November 1, 2015
Antonio Scaccabarozzi's body of work is defined by an experimental investigation into modes of vision. Scaramouche is pleased to present his first United States exhibition with an emblematic selection of pieces in collaboration with the Artist's Estate in Milan, Italy. Up until his unexpected death in a motorcycle accident in 2008, Scaccabarozzi continuously produced and exhibited his work for over four decades, beginning in the mid-60's. Characterized by the use of new materials, his paintings and works on polyethylene sheets reveal an in-depth exploration into visual phenomena, transforming the pictorial mode into brief epiphanies. The result is a rousing ambiguity of situations, accentuated by the awareness that what is before us, our vision, is in continuous evolution.
Scaccabarozzi's work bears witness to an expanded concept of painting. Each of the presented series in "Threshold of Perception" is generated by a new dialogue with materials and techniques, and forms part of an exemplary path of experimentation into ways of activating surfaces. The process of deciphering the images and their versatility is experienced in phases. In a singular context the apparent pictorial simplicity seen at first glance is attributed to the structural rigor. However, it is far from mechanical, hanging in a complex and restless balance, an illusive combination of asceticism and sensuality. The behavior of light creating constantly varying volumes, structures and surfaces inspires Scaccabarozzi in his late 1960's series Fustellati. Here the surfaces are activated by small (or large) circular "cutouts" or hole punches in the canvas in partial relief. In the 1970's series Prevalences, the artist defines the space through colored dots arranged by exact calculations that become ever more aerial; the resulting surface pulses with a created rhythm. A similar calculative method is used in the Injections series of the early 80's, made with a needle to infuse raw canvas with a precisely identified and documented "dose" of acrylic paint to achieve a chromatic field of dots. In the case of polyethylene, which Scaccabarozzi used in his Plastiche and Banchise works beginning in the mid-90's, it revealed itself as the perfect material, a synthesis of movement, form and color; superimposed in layers, the material's mobility and transparency give shape to the concept of painting as a threshold, a sensitive membrane between the visible and invisible.
The recurring presence of the color blue is another exacting choice. In the Western world blue resonates as the most neutral of colors. There is no other color that embodies such a graceful reputation in all of its shades and nuances. Blue resonated with the artist beyond its superficiality as a color of depth, of transcendence, and of distance. Art historian Elisabetta Longari notes an affinity between Scaccabarozzi's work and that of Yves Klein, "Irrespective of the references which can be established through their common use of the monochrome and an affection for the color blue, above all the two artists seem to share a calling for the void, a void full and pregnant like the silence following music, and the impetus toward the infinite... The void into which Klein leapt in his 1960 action-cum-manifesto, Saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void), is the space in which to introduce the work of Scaccabarozzi. If it's true that the role of a poet is to safeguard the blue, the distance, then Scaccabarozzi is a poet who investigated the mechanisms of vision and affirmed its enchantment. His art is the opening into an endless indefinite space."
Antonio Scaccabarozzi (1936 - 2008, Lecco-Milan, Italy) studied at the Castello Sforzesco School of Applied Arts in Milan. His work has been published and exhibited extensively since the early 70's, and continuing with avid dedication following his tragic death in 2008. An affirmed 'outsider' who shied away from the glamour of the art world, he was a free spirit, an uncompromising ascetic devoted to his art. While not anchored to any specific "School" or movement, Scaccabarozzi's work was consistently shown and considered alongside the most important figures of the time such as Getulio Alviani, Agostino Bonalumi, Antonio Calderara, Enrico Castellani, Gianni Colombo, Dadamaino, Piero Dorazio, Giorgio Griffa, François Morellet, and Jorrit Tornquist. Notable solo exhibitions include Galleria del Cavallino, Venice; Galerie Katharina Krohn, Basel; Galleria Lorenzelli, Milan; Lydia Megert, Bern; Galerie Ubu, Karlsruhe; Sleeper, Edinburgh; Kunsthistorisches Institute, Bonn University; Galerie Hoffmann, Friedberg; Cairn Gallery, Pittenweem, UK; Galerie Katrin Rabus, Bremen; Foundation Antonio Calderara, Vacciago di Ameno, Italy; Galleria P420, Bologna; Nuova Galleria Morone, Milan. Recent group exhibitions include Kunstgalerie, Bonn; Galerie La Ligne, Zurich; Galerie Petr Zaloudek, Prague. Clement & Schneider, Bonn is forthcoming this Fall.
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Image: Antonio Scaccabarozzi, Canvas Injections C, cmc 3,5/cmc 0,5 x 7, Blu Ultramarine, 1980, 18.5 x 18.5 in.