Rome

Gianfranco Notargiacomo

Galleria La Salita

From his earlier, abstract pieces Gianfranco Notargiacomo has moved toward a wholly unexpected figuration, one which has nothing to do with the figurative classicism currently flooding the Italian scene. His previous work is characterized by a convulsive gesturality, in which foaming and dripping light greens, reds, and purples are contrasted with nervous surfaces of dark blacks and grays. Notargiacomo has now abandoned the abstract gesture, and the image clearly appears—a precise, readable object. The reference, however, accords more to a type of abstraction than to one of realism, for the image is suggested through the most minimal means possible. Chairs or shirts may be visible, but they are represented in abbreviated form; only the unembellished essentials are communicated. A sharp-edged black line functions as a sign for the object, clearly demarcating its edges. The color is in some ways reminiscent of that in Notargiacomo’s earlier work—nonevocative, without references. A silver background, showing a vibrant inner luminosity, is applied in broad, fragmented brushstrokes; the only other color is a pale, dense blue.

In reducing his color to the minimum, Notargiacomo makes a clear break with his past. But the essential figuration he now explores, somewhere between Pop and Minimalism, must be seen within a distinctly Roman tradition, as a development of the language developed in the ’70s by painters like Mario Schifano and sculptors like Giuseppe Uncini. Notargiacomo’s oversized icons directly recall Schifano’s canvases; likewise his cold, metallic colors seem, in a painting showing two chairs facing in opposite directions, to refer to Uncini’s La sedia con ombra (Chair with shadow, 1968), in iron and reinforced concrete.

Seen from the ’80s, Pop art does not and cannot have the implications it had at the beginning of the ’70s. In fact, Notargiacomo reproposes and rearticulates Pop, avoiding the pitfalls of realism through the use of an essentially graphic sign which recalls the language of advertising and poster art. His brand of typographic reductivism mixes certain elements of Keith Haring’s work with the Roman genius loci. The icon’s immediacy comes from the directness of the bare, banal sign. What appears on the canvas is only a trace of things, the edge, the perimeter; what is interior is forgone. In this process of stripping away, objects take on typological meaning. Solids dissolve, reduced to pure, graphic schemes, so that the image can be seen as an essence of the object referred to. The revelation of reality occurs not through irony, nor through mimetic copy, but through a reduction of objective data. The result is a sort of minimal cataloguing which reveals ultimate geometries, shorn of disguises and decoration.

Ida Panicelli

Translated from the Italian by Meg Shore.