Casey Kaplan

Artist News

Giorgio Griffa, Obliquo, 1976. Photo: Giulio Caresio

Giorgio Griffa: Quasi Tutto opens at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto

GIORGIO GRIFFA: QUASI TUTTO
FROM 14 MAY 2016 TO 04 SEP 2016
His art deserves a place in the global history of abstraction.’
Roberta Smith, The New York Times
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first large-scale museum survey of the paintings and drawings of Giorgio Griffa. It is the Italian artist’s first exhibition in Portugal. The exhibition is the culmination of a series of shows originating at the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève (Switzerland), travelling to the Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen (Norway) and the Fondazione Giuliani, Rome (Italy). Curated by Serralves Museum director Suzanne Cotter and Andrea Bellini, Director of the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève, the exhibition at Serralves presents an expanded selection of more than forty paintings and over fifty drawings dating from 1969 to 2015. Surveying Griffa’s highly abstract yet eminently pictorial production, this ambitious exhibition reveals the artist’s commitment to the practice of painting as a cumulative process whose continuum is part of a broader physical and metaphysical reality.
Giorgio Griffa (1936, Turin, Italy) is part of the Italian generation of artists who came of age in the 1960s and proposed a radical redefinition of painting. From the late 1960s, Griffa set about reducing painting to its essential components of raw, unstretched canvas, pigment and brushstrokes, stripped of expressive subjectivity, radically redefining the medium and its possibilities within a world in transformation. While his use of simple materials and gestures aligns him with the work of the Italian arte povera artists and the proponents of Support/Surface in France, who were his peers in the 1960s and 1970s, his interest in the immediacy and performative dimension of painting as a time-based process was also inspired by Zen philosophy.
During the 1980s, a return to neo-expressionism and the Italian transavanguardia marked for Griffa a period of re-engagement with the expressive potential of his elemental use of colour, line and gesture that had sustained his practice in the previous decade. Inspired in part by fellow artist Mario Merz’s use of the Fibonacci sequence, in the 1990s the numbers of the golden ratio entered into Griffa’s pictorial language. His paintings from the past two decades bring together these constitutive elements with renewed vigour and vital urgency. The works in the exhibition at Serralves reflect these key moments in Griffa’s oeuvre, including important paintings from the artist’s cycle of paintings known as ‘Alter Ego’ that constitute a conceptual and intellectual dialogue with painters from Tintoretto to Matisse and Agnes Martin.
The exhibition also highlights the importance of Griffa’s drawings from across the same period as his paintings. The drawings offer insight into Griffa’s continued elaboration of ideas for his paintings and a reflection of an oeuvre in parallel in which the repetitive gesture and the sign point to the origins of painting as primordial and notational.
A fully illustrated book, edited by Andrea Bellini and published by Mousse Publishing, presents the work of the artist over fifty years. The book includes new essays by Andrea Bellini, Luca Cerizza, Laura Cherubini, Martin Clark, Suzanne Cotter, Chris Dercon and Marianna Vecellio, an interview with the artist conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist, as well as writings by the artist.
‘Giorgio Griffa: Quasi Tutto’ is organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, in association with Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève; Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen; and the Fondazione Giuliani, Rome. The exhibition is curated by Serralves Museum director Suzanne Cotter and Andrea Bellini, director of the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genève.