David Tremlett

Padiglione d'arte Contemporanea

David Tremlett’s exhibition consisted of both large wall drawings and a small series of drawings on paper. This concise retrospective, the English artist’s first in Italy, was organized by Marco Meneguzzo. Tremlett is well known for using a completely manual process to execute mural paintings (or to have them executed). He favors pastels in colors similar to those of construction materials: the gray of stone, the brown of wood, the red of terra-cotta and of bricks. Unlike Sol LeWitt, whose point of departure is the exhibition site, and who defines forms and applies colors according to preordained mental relationships, Tremlett uses spaces to evoke other spaces, those that were part of his experiences during trips to Africa, Central America, and Oceania. Thus the point of departure for this work is the visited site, from which the artist conjures up certain traces that are shared by his own culture: words in the languages of the place, plans of places experienced, or even the colors typical of other architectural traditions. In Tremlett’s work, memory operates through reduction; the work reveals minimal mnemonic traces like monochromatic coats of organic colors, chromatic traces, geometric forms—sometimes Euclidean but more often irregular. For Tremlett, geometry stems from phenomenology, just as the figure derives its life from the house, from the place of life represented in the plan. In fact, the figure becomes an emblem of an experience, which is also evoked by the manual process of the work; the psycho-physical involvement of the artist in the execution is simply the restitution of an integral experience. Integral also signifies contradictory: what the artist elaborates intellectually, formally, is the difficulty of the choices that the experience implies. The most recent pieces include forms with precise contours that are then overpainted with the gesture of the hand spreading the paint. It is like placing axiomatic phenomena, and bringing about the coexistence of two contrary instances, in an action that has the unpredictability but also the determination of every existential choice. It is no accident that Tremlett often intervenes in construction sites reduced to ruin, and then abandons the work. Thus the execution of a work has the same gratuitousness as an experience completed purely for the sake of knowledge.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.