Alvise Bittente

Perugi Artecontemporanea

Alvise Bittente reproduces insignificant objects in ink on paper, following a serial cataloguing scheme: wastebaskets, trash cans, clothing, furniture, and whatever else one finds in the spaces of everyday life. Everything can be registered and put down on paper, removed from its referential context and thus presented without spatial or semantic relationships with other things, isolated like an icon in the blank space of the paper. The categories represented in this exhibition were knives, corks, plungers, ladles, other kitchen utensils, kitchen brooms, and so on. Each category comprises from three to ten drawings on paper or, in one instance, on kitchen aprons. The serial system drains the object of affectivity, and what matters are not its individual characteristics but rather the fact that it fulfills a certain kind of function.

Bittente’s line develops subtly, like an embroidery, and what remains of the object is the black skeleton of the ink mark, summary but precise. His approach is like that of a technical draftsman—detailed, cool, and objectified. In his drawings, the world of functions and things seems to be an end in itself, without a foothold in a subjective realm that might imbue it with meaning. The drawings have been affixed to a rigid support and laminated, making the mark seem ethereal and even further annulling any possible subjectivity. For the works in this show, reviving the technique of papier collé, Bittente has used colored wallpaper in place of his former white sheets, superimposing on it another piece of wallpaper, which has been drawn on. The old wallpaper is exploited as an abstract background with a repetitive ornamental motif. But the artist has introduced certain divergent notes, points of irony that subvert his assumed distance from the subject. First of all there is the show’s Latin title: “De rebus domesticis, seu affectuum lascivissimae picturae,” or “Of the Domestic, or The Pornography of Feelings.” And then there are the titles of the individual works (all 2005), among them Circo incisione d’incapace, o il campo di grano placcato d’oro (Circus Engraving of the Incapable, or The Gold-Plated Wheat Field)—kitchen brooms; Carnevale al macello (Carnival at the Slaughterhouse)—ladles; L’idra aulico solido con una marcia in più (The Solid Courtly Hydra with an Extra Gear)—plungers; La classica sindone di chi ha le mani in pasta (The Classic Shroud of One Who Has a Finger in Every Pie)—other kitchen utensils. These puns and nonsense phrases, linguistic provocations, introduce a note of the surreal into the prevailing conceptual neutrality. The silent world of things, that domestic sphere familiar to the point of banality, here reveals unexpected twists in meaning. Through the incongruous and the grotesque, the artist makes fun of our affective and sentimental projections onto things. At the center of the gallery, the raised corner of a Persian carpet allowed the viewer to glimpse a mound of wood shavings, hidden from view like dust. The imaginative dimension disassembles things, a subtle wind that overturns them and lifts them up from their apparent inertia.

Alessandra Pioselli

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.