Naples

Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille, Vesuvio y Giallo di Napoli (Vesuvius and Naples Yellow), 2015, oil and silver on canvas, 8' 2 3/8“ × 12' 5 5/8” × 2".

Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille, Vesuvio y Giallo di Napoli (Vesuvius and Naples Yellow), 2015, oil and silver on canvas, 8' 2 3/8“ × 12' 5 5/8” × 2".

Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille

Alfonso Artiaco

Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille, Vesuvio y Giallo di Napoli (Vesuvius and Naples Yellow), 2015, oil and silver on canvas, 8' 2 3/8“ × 12' 5 5/8” × 2".

Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille have long sought to redefine painting’s status by wedding the deconstruction of the medium’s linguistic systems with hyperrealistic representation. Via strategies of displacement, ironic reversal, and stylistic quotation—and by channeling a motley crew of forefathers ranging from Cy Twombly to Sigmar Polke, from Niele Toroni to Ed Ruscha and Richard Prince—the Dijon, France–based duo self-reflexively investigate painting’s codes, conditions, and modalities. The artists freely cross-pollinate traditional and contemporary techniques of image reproduction, and the resulting pictures—suspended between abstraction and figuration—are ambiguous products of both the gestures of painting and the calculations of postproduction.

In some ways, each of the paintings that were recently on view at Alfonso Artiaco is a hypertext, pregnant with multiple citations and interpretive contexts. ABS028 and ABS030, both 2015, for example, are monumental paintings the pair generated by manipulating UV prints: Tursic and Mille enlarged images they took of used palette paper and then painted with oils on the prints’ surfaces to play perceptual tricks, emphasizing oppositions between true and false, original and reproduction. The other works were drawn from the artists’ formidable archive of approximately 140,000 images—most downloaded from the Internet—which have been organized by category (portraits, fashion images, erotic scenes, flowers, landscapes). The duo perform various interventions on these images: Barboncino bianco, barboncino nero (White Poodle, Black Poodle), 2015, for example, is a UV print for which the point of departure is a photo of Maria Callas and Pier Paolo Pasolini on a boat, depicted with the two small dogs of the title. The artists used a palette knife to spread matte paint over the image, as though materializing the obscurations incurred on memory by time’s passage. In Pasta al nero di seppia (Squid-Ink Pasta), 2012—the piece that gave the show its title—a model wearing only a pair of high-heeled boots is pictured squatting on a bed, busy eating a plate of, precisely, squid-ink spaghetti. For this work, the artists simply aped a photo shot by Juergen Teller, rendering it as an oil painting on panel.

Vesuvio y Giallo di Napoli (Vesuvius and Naples Yellow), 2015, also plays with slippages between painted and photographic images. Based on a vintage postcard the artists found in Berlin, the work appears to be another manipulation of a print, but in fact is entirely painted. The photo-realistically articulated Neapolitan volcano emerges from a gray landscape but is then rendered opaque by a semitransparent glaze—a device that has become a hallmark of the artists’ work. Here, as if in an attempt to sully the purity of the original scene, they add stains and abstract brushstrokes in a violent Naples yellow to those carefully applied marks, obliterating the careful realism of the work in favor of expressiveness and suggestion.

Eugenio Viola

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.