Giulio Paolini

Christian Stein Gallery

Giulio Paolini’s works in this show of pieces from 1981 to 1983 seem to be devised to suggest the void that lurks behind every pretext of meaning; they are carefully composed to celebrate the vanity of their existence. The multiplicity of phenomena that comprise the work display a mannerism that evokes a lack of meaning, a void, outside history. In the act of criticizing myth Paolini continually revives it; in pointing out illusion he produces delusion—scenes and figures which allegorically embody the concept of the autonomy of form independent from history. Art inspired by this concept exists on a razor’s edge. Its critique of esthetic illusion may be so radical as to create, through a negative mode, new figures of time and of space; but it can degenerate into mere decoration of the void, an apology for the uselessness of historical gestures, executed in the name of a relativism established

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