Simon Linke

Franz Paludetto

The contemporary art magazine is an integral part of today’s art system. As an instrument that disseminates the discourse on art, it makes art known. In order to exist, the work of art must participate in the system, and so it must be able to move within all the areas where the system is articulated: in the artist’s studio, the gallery, the museum, and finally the magazine. By convention, everything that fails to become involved with this translatability into critical text and photographic reproductions—everything that fails to conform to the existing circuit laid out by the system—fails to be recognized as art.

Simon Linke takes what has been published in a magazine, in Artforum, and he exhibits it in a gallery. He chooses precisely that which is specifically intrinsic to the specialized art magazine: not the critical text or the photographic illustration, but the advertisement. This is a sort of reversal or degradation of conceptual procedures. If conceptual statements were substituted for the work of art and stimulated critical reflection instead of pure esthetic/ecstatic perception, then Linke’s advertising transforms the “statement” into a work of art after having demoted it to commercial communication.

Linke’s works turn advertising into painting, which respects the conventions upon which advertising is based. It mimics its colors, its typography, its proportions (the canvases correspond to the full-page, half-page, and quarter-page ad). The work is immediately recognizable; Linke works with this recognizability and sets it against the system of painting. When the page holds a photographic image (in this case, a famous photograph of Pino Pascali next to one of his weapons, for the recent show at Salvatore Ala in New York) Linke addresses the issue of reproducibility via the historically authorized system of painting—with a photorealist image, that is, an image painted in hyperrealist style. Thus Linke’s work conveys above all a conditioning, that is the basis of the very visibility of art. In the advertisement, he indicates the memento mori of artistic radicalism, and in the ideological constitution of the system, he indicates the limits placed on expressive freedom. Still, emotional implications can be set in motion by Linke’s works: a curious episode, for example, in which a Joseph Kosuth exhibition was advertised and never realized, or even a moving memory as in the evocation of Joseph Beuys’ last show in Italy.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.