Antonio Catelani

Galleria Matteo Remolino

In this show Antonio Catelani leaves behind the marble and iron of his earlier production to embrace the more plastic qualities of cardboard and wood. His shift in materials, along with his adoption of three-dimensional latticelike grids, distinctly changes the nature of his works. From an abstraction still grounded in the representational, Catelani seems to have arrived at an abstraction filtered through the architectural. The artist’s earlier work contrasted the transience of visual perception with the solidity of traditional sculptural materials. His current works display an immediacy that is unhampered by their theoretical and spatial rigor.

Catelani presents a series of wall-mounted works in cardboard called Modello (Model, 1988), and two freestanding works in wood and cardboard called Tipologia (Typology, 1988). For the Modelli, he bends, rolls, manipulates, and staples sheets of thin white or red-brown cardboard to form multi-layered compositions. Like sketches, these pieces read as quick experiments in the manipulation of space. Catelani uses the same red-brown cardboard in his Tipologia pieces. Here the cardboard is simply rolled and then suspended within a freestanding gridlike structure. The symmetry and order of these simple, wooden lattices encourages a reading based on references to construction and planning. The rolled and suspended sheets of cardboard are more readily seen as references to architectural detail or decoration than to sculpture or painting. Although both of these works are roughly the size of wardrobe closets, they read like models for skyscrapers, and they seem to refer to the typology of modern architecture.

Catelani takes his work out of the self-referential spheres of representational vision and into the realm of the architectural abstraction. He adopts a position that favors order and solutions over chaos and uncertainty. But his position does not incorporate a criticism of architectural practices; instead, it aims at an illumination of what is absent from current sculptural production. Unlike the popular reuse of the Duchampian readymade or the simulacra, Catelani refers to the conflictive relationship between the architectural and the abstract. His appropriation of the architectural is grounded in a stripped-down notion of the subject; structure here is not simplified, but seen simply.

Anthony Iannacci