Sergio Fermariello

Lucio Amelio

Exhibiting works that are emblematic of his artistic activity over the past two years, Sergio Fermariello declares, in this show, an end to the phase of his career during which he used “signs of warriors.” Now he has turned to the topoi of the imagination and to the (no less archetypal) figures of the hunter and the prey. He contrasts a work covered by a dense, obsessive accumulation of a repeated warrior motif with a less-crowded weave of images scribbled in a childish hand—a tree, a hut, a road map, and an image of Vesuvius. Though the child’s scrawl is barely articulate, it is the matrix of every other form of language, thought, and reasoning. Fermariello adopts this metaphor to complete his journey to the origin of language.

Black and white still dominate the broad surfaces upon which his signs play themselves out. The ground is not rigorously two-dimensional, but projects in relief at regular intervals. As a result, the image is not immediately perceptible, and a certain mobility of sight as well as the capacity to organize an infinite diversion of signs is required by both the artist and the viewer. Indeed, the formal cohesion of the work is rooted in the progressive adjustment of the viewer’s perception.

Fermariello thinks of painting as the activation of a machine to produce visual signs, rather than as the unearthing of subjective narratives. Painting is a physical process—an incessant building up and taking apart by the hand. In his struggle with the empty surface, Fermariello doesn’t fear the abyss or the vertigo of the mind. As Roland Barthes has shown, it is only in the Zen experience known as satori—the title of this show—that a vacillation of the senses, an earthquake, is capable of leading language and its codified meanings back to their ur-meanings: to unusual and unexpected images and forms, to the secret traces of the imagination, to its archetypes, and to signs that allude to tales of hunters and prey painted on the walls of ancient caves.

Angelo Trimarco

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.