Oliver Mosset and Steven Parrino

This comparison between representatives of two different generations served as a measure of their respective radicality in relation to a common goal. Olivier Mosset, since the ’70s, and Steven Parrino, since the ’80s, have both been carrying out an attack on the integrity of the monochrome, on its a priori aspects. Mosset is mindful of the ideological protests of the ’70s, Parrino of the simulation theories of the post-Modern era. Both refuse to establish a self-analytical examination of the act of painting, and they counter idealistic absolutes (those of Yves Klein, for example) with the indifference of chance, with gestural immediacy, with what we might call sensitivity. Instead of theory, they propose a phenomenology that refutes theorization.

Parrino showed three white monochromes, entitled Repulsion Painting, 1992, in homage to Roman Polanski. As usual, their self-referential purity is transgressed by a gesture that shifts the canvas’ usual position on the stretcher, creating folds and therefore a volume. The absolute of the monochrome is relativized by a pure phenomenon manifested through a mechanical and anonymous gesture, apparently in keeping with self-analytic practices.

Mosset exhibited 20 monochromes of different colors, part of a cycle of 32 works in fiberglass, all the same size and all marked horizontally by three lines that divide the surface into equal parts. These preestablished compositional rules correspond to a series of combinations between the colors of the surface and the absolutely casual lines, combinations that are clearly not governed by theoretical motivations. The arbitrariness of chance also influences the decision to exhibit this part of the series. Furthermore, and this is perhaps a significantly ironic point, the paintings do not transgress the unique quality of the individual work of art. For these are not paintings, but silkscreens, and reproducibility is basic to their production and to their nature. If there is any transgression, it lies in the negation of painting and of its ideological instance, screened through a simulation that contradicts the expectations of the viewer. For an overturning of expectations, Parrino, the post-Modern, presents the tangible effects of an effective gesture, while Mosset, the ideologue, play with the clearing effects of a mise-en-scène.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.