Stefano Arienti

Galleria In Arco

Stefano Arienti’s recent work is based on a very simple but unpredictable procedure: he takes standard posters depicting landscapes or famous people and erases parts of the images. Sometimes the features of the subjects or certain landscape elements are distorted to extraordinary expressive effect. In the largest series to date, Arienti subjects an innocent Marilyn Monroe, photographed smiling in black and white, to a series of assaults that make the star disquietingly monstrous. The abrasive action of the eraser delineates wrinkles, swells the face, closes the eyes, erases cheekbones or teeth, elongates the nose, or deforms ears as if these were victims of a ferocious, negative makeup job. Other personalities meet ends that are no better: Billie Holiday loses her nose, and Albert Einstein, in the famous photo where he is sticking out his tongue, looks like a cross between a dirty old man and an ape. On another level this taste for ferocious derision gives way to lyricism, as in the large diptychs with images of gardens and flowers, where the cancellation has compositional value in that it creates areas of white, modifies spatial relationships, or muffles chromatic values.

Lyricism and aggressiveness have come to typify Arienti’s modus operandi. The artist behaves like a perverse adolescent in the world of images, engaging these in an ambiguous relationship that simultaneously implies uneasiness and fascination.

In a book shown at Studio Guenzani, along with a group of recent works on paper, the artist selected a number of works, from the beginning of his career to the present, and exhibited them as drawings. These were not models for his most well-known pieces, but rather their graphic remaking, through simple processes for the most part based on the tracing of slides placed on a light table. The process of remaking obviously involves modifications that occur both by chance and as a result of the properties of the medium employed. In mixing technical reproduction and manual alteration, the artist limply manifests his intention to “rehumanize” the stereotypes of visual communication.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.