‘A Mirror Painting is a means to orientation in the world, of encouraging conscious experience of phenomena as experienced from the first person point of view, invoking perception, thought, memory, bodily awareness and social activity. It is a work of art in the world and the world in a work of art.’ Jeremy Lewison, in ‘Michelangelo Pistoletto. Mirror Paintings’ Ostfildern, 2011.
New Mirror Paintings by Michelangelo Pistoletto highlight the world of construction: not the glossy end-product, but the process and mechanics of construction itself: the invisible workers, the drills and cranes that shift stone and earth, the temporary cordons, the dust and the rubble. He shines a spotlight on the incessant process of destruction and construction that is an inevitable by-product of any period of intense economic activity. Pistoletto gives us a partial view on this world: his thoughtfully calibrated compositions of objects and figures superimposed on the polished stainless steel assume a powerful sculptural and poetic presence.
In these images, the drill becomes an object of menacing beauty, the pile of rubble an organic form, the cordon tape a haphazard abstraction. Even the workers themselves, their actions frozen in time, seem to assume a classical form: the side show in a monumental 19th Century history painting perhaps. Through our reflection in the mirror, we are invited to find our links with these characters and objects, to question ourselves and our position, political, social and spatial, in relation to what we perceive.
Born in Italy into a family of art restorers and schooled in advertising in the 40s and 50s, Pistoletto has exhibited extensively over the past 50 years across Europe and the USA, most recently with his retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art ‘From One to Many 1956-1974’ which travelled to MAXXI, Rome and with ‘The Mirror of Judgement’ at the Serpentine Gallery, London (until 17 September 2011).
Image: Michelangelo Pistoletto, Passacavi, 2008 – 2011, Serigraphy on stainless steel, 59 x 59 in. (150 x 150 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery, London
Michelangelo Pistoletto. Mirror Paintings – Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley St, London W1J 8DT. t. +44 (0)207 300 5885
EVENT: The artist will be in conversation with Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans-Ulrich Obrist of the Serpentine Gallery, London to discuss the book at Simon Lee Gallery at 5.30pm on Tuesday 13th September.
NEW PUBLICATION: ‘Michelangelo Pistoletto. Mirror Paintings’. Edited by Katharine Burton, with texts by Michael Auping, Pascal Gielen and Jeremy Lewison. Clothbound, 168 pages, 87 colour illustrations. English. Published by Simon Lee Gallery, London, Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York and Galleria Christian Stein, Milan, in collaboration with Hatje Cantz, 2011.