Critics’ Picks

View of “Baldo Diodato: Works from the Performance,” 2021.

View of “Baldo Diodato: Works from the Performance,” 2021.


Baldo Diodato

Galleria Mario Iannelli
Via Flaminia 380
May 5–June 16, 2021

In a previous group show, amidst works by Schirin Kretschmann and Yorgos Stamkopoulos, Baldo Diodato covered the gallery floor with an immaculate canvas so that visitors’ foot traffic acted as an unconscious brush, spreading colored pigments in involuntary shades and patterns. His current exhibition offers a visual transcription of that experience. The artist’s use of “collective frottage,” as he calls it, dates back to a 1974 performance at JFK Square in Philadelphia, which was repeated two years later at New York’s Alessandra Gallery. In each case, a sheet of carbon paper sandwiched inside a double layer of canvas impressed the indelible sign of passage on the underlying surface.

Then and now, the canvas is transformed into a participating body, a seismograph that records movements, pressures, controlled accidents, and the steps—confident or uncertain—of the viewer, who sets the exhibition’s tempo. At the conclusion of the opening, the artist cut up certain portions of the canvas, exhibiting them vertically for this new show: All titled Frottage Multicolore, 2021, they bear witness to the gravitational forces with which Pollock’s dancing abstraction long ago acquainted us. In the imperfect parts, where the wounds of the adhesive tape or the square voids where walking was prohibited are visible, the gaps seem to become portals to the infinite.

Also on display are four works entitled Frottage su Alluminio, 2021—sheets of aluminum previously spread out on the floor in the outer part of the gallery and allowed to “vibrate” from hammer blows applied by visitors. The jagged and protruding contours, which Diodato experimented with previously on the sampietrini of Rome, recall Enrico Castellani’s rhythmic “extroflexions” and the material suspensions of Piero Manzoni’s “Achromes,” their obdurate physicality complementing their conceptual gamesmanship.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.