Trained as a graphic artist, Giulio Paolini has been evolving constantly since his early work, produced when he was only twenty years old in 1960, investigating the constituent elements of painting, the space of depiction, the phenomenon of seeing and the notion of authorship. Over the course of time, the focus on the work considered in its action of emergence – in search of its own potential of definition – has led him to concentrate increasingly on the action of display, to the point of questioning the legitimacy or necessity of this very display. His works have “nothing to declare”: they do not seek to communicate anything, but limit themselves to evoking the premises of their manifestation. Consisting mainly of white canvases, drawing sheets, plaster casts, photographic reproductions, Plexiglas volumes and a vast repertoire of iconographic elements (from details of ancient paintings to fragments of sidereal visions), they stage the expectation of an image that eludes any attempt at fixation and remain suspended in the potential dimension. The language is characterised by the use of ellipsis, fragmentation, citation and splitting, which expedients are used to suggest an unbridgeable distance from the completed model and to make the work a theatre of evocation. In this sense, the geometry that defines many of his works implodes within itself, in a labyrinth of kaleidoscopic reflections, blind visions and closed-off perspectives. These procedures, studded with literary, philosophical and mythological references, are reflected in composite installations, defined by additive (juxtaposition, multiplication), centrifugal (explosion, dispersion) or centripetal (concentration, accumulation) dynamics.

Giulio Paolini (Genoa, 1940) lives and works in Turin. Since his first solo show in 1964, he has held countless exhibitions in galleries and museums all over the world. He has participated several times in Documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennale. His work can be found in numerous Italian and international public collections.

Maddalena Disch