Maurizio Vetrugno


Maurizio Vetrugno’s work seeks to visualize a place by using objects that allude to and mirror the real environment of the exhibition. This recent installation was composed of four large curtains projecting from the wall from wood sticks covered with colored fabric. The flowing curtains evoked a domestic, intimate environment and an opening to the external world. Yet the way they were made allowed them to articulate an ambiguous message; each curtain, colored a different hue ranging from yellow to orange, contained words printed in an old-fashioned, elegant script and each was decorated with small archaic images that made it seem like an antique banner.

The texts consisted of short quotations (from William S. Burroughs, Herbert Allen Giles, Samuel Butler) and aphorisms by the same writers, accompanied by the visual commentary of two figures taken from Hieronymous Bosch, an ancient Chinese seal, as well as a gargoyle from the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. While the brevity of the verbal texts suspended the phrases in imprecision, evoking an environment (ancient China, Greek myths, but also the editorial offices of a newspaper) rather than a precise referent, the figures, save from some minimal clues, were presented as details of an equally chimerical and unassailable universe. Thus, the space that opened up between text and image was the infinite amusement of the tale, the infinite possibilities of narration.

The curtain-banner evokes expectation, a state prefatory if not opposite to action, and one that is carried out in a closed place suitable to the activity of the imaginary. This activity is not the same as introspection, which reinforces the ego, but, rather, the same as narration, in which the ego is dispersed. Vertugno is particularly sensitive to Eastern philosophies, which he approaches, however, with the disenchanted irony of our “simulacral” contemporaneity.

The second installation, composed of three living room chairs made out of strips of interwoven leather, each a different color—black, gray, and white—was ironic. The names of the days of the week were stamped into the leather strips of the first two seats: on the white seat, however, this measurement of time was negated in the repetition of the expression “every day.” The chromatic scale is supposed to signify the different stages that lead to illumination, white indicating the reflection of the absolute and the negation of time. One realizes that these are absolutely improbable but highly moving terms, indeed, qualities specific to the art of storytelling.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.