Niele Toroni

Galerie Yvon Lambert

Some artists have approached painting through its surface, others through pigment or color. Niele Toroni has chosen to approach it through the brush. This choice has resulted in the method that the painter has been using, since January 1967, with absolute rigor and perfect regularity. The articulation of this method varies little. Toroni upholds one single rule: on a given support a N° 50 brush is applied at regular intervals of 30 centimeters. Only the given supports—canvas, cotton, paper, oilcloth, wall, floor—and the time taken to complete the work vary. Sometimes the brushmarks fall into simple configurations whose presence doesn’t play any particular role: it is a simple “formality.”

The radical efficacy of this constantly repeated, nearly identical gesture lies in the atemporal evidence of its absolute certainty: painting is made only of paint, the brushmark can reveal all of it, the rest is but anecdote. Each mark, in its irreducible material identity, is a kind of painting in itself. What usually “completes” a painting—the stretchers, the frame, etc.—is, after all, nothing but a form, one kind of support among many others. Toroni can place his brushmarks wherever he wants; nothing ever affects their identity as brushmarks, their splendid isolation, their clear pictoriality. Toroni’s simple formula is convenient, above all, because of its uniformity, its neutrality.

In this show Toroni once again applied his ever-lasting principle. Here, the point of departure for the painter was the gallery space itself. He created a suite of nine canvases measuring 78 by 78 inches. Finally the Toronian brushmarks—at the same time identical and completely new—were distributed in the following manner: a stripe of pale green brush-marks ran along the left wall. This stripe passed over three canvases hung side by side at the center of the wall. Opposite these stood four canvases covered with ultramarine-blue brushmarks, placed side by side on little blocks of wood against the right wall. Another canvas, covered with sandalwood-pink brushmarks, was hung in one of the corners.

The Toronian method is a given, making any exhibition of the artist’s work nothing more than a pretext for form; conversely, the form is nothing but the means for making new brushmarks, that is, painting. Although the marks of the N° 50 brush may seem secondary or accidental, the forms chosen by Toroni are not arbitrary; on the contrary, they are subtly and precisely calculated in themselves, as well as in their function within the space in which they are inscribed.

Daniel Soutif

Translated from the French by Hanna Hannah.