Maurizio Nannucci

Galerie Achim Kubinski

So far, Maurizio Nannucci has completed only 42 neon pieces, yet everyone associates this loud-colored penmanship with his name: terse, calligraphic sentences that Nannucci installs horizontally or vertically in the corners of the room, consistent with the spatial parallels. His playful use of words negates the intentions of many of his colleagues, who deploy language for purposes of investigation. While Conceptualism employs language to elucidate the linguistic, ethical, legal, and ritual conventions on which communication depends, Nannucci does not aim at declarations of principles, definitions, or theoretical investigations. The title of this show, “Writing is Not Necessary,” alludes to the unusual setting of this gallery, which is not a neutral space. In 1985, Joseph Kosuth papered the walls of one room with his work Zero and Not. In 1986, another room was “occupied” by Günther Förg and in 1987, Daniel Buren installed white stripes on the window panes of the gallery. These permanent installations make this site a peculiar hybrid, somewhere between a gallery and a museum. Each “guest artist” in the three remaining rooms has to confront directly the Buren piece, while simultaneously competing with the other installations.

In full awareness of this preexisting situation, Nannucci refers to the works that already occupy the gallery in the spatial presentation of his neon pieces. In particular the closeness to Kosuth’s wallpaper makes Nannucci’s individual sentences and titles read as warnings. Nevertheless, Nannucci’s way of tackling language should not be compared with Kosuth’s but should be read abstractly. Light and lines are devices for dividing and articulating space, a view urged upon us by the intertwining letters of the two works Sky, 1989, and Life line, 1989, since any direct readability is eclipsed by their formal presentation. In their abstract effect, the neon sentences—like Buren’s stripes of sunshine—play with color and light to stimulate the viewer’s perception rather than to articulate a theoretical statement.

Sabine B. Vogel

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.