Alberto Garutti

Galleria Galliani

A series of lightbulbs on the gallery wall lit up when anyone entered a room on the other side, while in another small room, a slab of red crystal threw a red shadow that filled the space. A third work resembled a hinged and jointed piece of furniture; its dimensions and shape were taken from real furniture and spaces between objects in the home of the artist Alberto Garutti. Garutti, in fact, finds inspiration for all of his work in his own personal surroundings: the red shadow of the crystal, for example, recalls the color of a wall in one of his studios when it is illuminated by the sun, while the strange, awkward furniture is an abstract synthesis of the objects and spaces of one of the rooms he lives in.

The relationship that Garutti establishes with space in this fashion has little to do with Modernity’s reflection on space as a decontextualized abstract entity. Instead, Garutti depicts what Edvard Munch represented in his last self-portrait, Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940. This is space on a human scale, a space transformed by the artist’s presence from something anonymous into something touched by personal experience. A particular hotel room; a ray of light projecting a geometric form from a window onto a floor; the space between a stove and a table; a mirror at the point when a certain image appeared on a given date—together these things constitute a person’s secret history.

The spaces of everyday life find their natural analogue in the time of everyday life, and in effect, all of Garutti’s work is a visualization of time. For him, time is as Henri Bergson conceived it: something that expands or contracts according to one’s experience and psychological states. Garutti’s work posits a geometrical space that, like Bergson’s conception of duration, is defined only by one’s own sensibility. In this sense the “measurement” that he effects on things external to but physically close to himself becomes a work of absolute introspection. While it approaches pure contemplation, however, it should not be thought of as something fulfilling, but rather as a tension that is concentrated on the establishment of an imperceptible but essential contact with the world. At the same time, as Blaise Pascal said, “all the unhappiness of men derives from a single thing, which is not knowing how to be quiet in a room.”

Marco Meneguzzo

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.