Retour à Paris

Gianfranco Baruchello

19.09.2023 | 23.09.2023
Pièce Unique

MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique is very pleased to present Retour à Paris, Gianfranco Baruchello’s solo exhibition.

Oct. 2, 1963: In a letter to Arne Ekstrom, who will open Gianfranco Baruchello's first U.S. solo exhibition at the Cordier&Ekstrom Gallery in New York on March 31, 1964, presented by Dore Ashton, Baruchello recounts his visit to Daniel Cordier in Paris on Sept. 22, 1963. Daniel Cordier, a historian, collector and dealer since the post-World War II years, now has some "22 paintings" and about "50 drawings" in his collection. Among the works not purchased but that Cordier wanted to see (Baruchello sends Cordier photocolors and photographs of his work made between 1962 and 1963) is also The Tecnolatra and smaller format canvases including Attenzione, dio ti vede - Beware, God Sees You and An Old Shelter. The Tecnolatra did not make it to Paris because it was chosen along with two other works from the same year by Giulio Carlo Argan for the exhibition Oltre l'Informale, on the occasion of the 4th San Marino Art Biennial (July 7-October 7, 1963). It had first been seen by Argan and Palma Bucarelli in Rome, on the occasion of Baruchello's first solo exhibition at Galleria La Tartaruga, which opened on May 20, 1963. Instead, an old shelter travels to Paris and then continues on to New York where it is in the Gallery on the occasion of the 1964 American exhibition.

Baruchello's presence in Paris dates back to 1962: the exhibition Collage et Objets at Galerie du Cercle (Oct. 24-Nov. 17) curated by Alain Jouffroy and Robert Lebel, the event Catastrophe (Nov. 27-Dec. 13) at Galerie Raymond Cordier, curated by Jean-Jacques Lebel.

Jouffroy and Baruchello met on September 11, 1962, and would stay in touch through an exchange of friendship and work. It is Ileana Sonnabend who put Baruchello and Jouffroy in touch in 1962, and it will be Sonnabend who will help introduce Baruchello to the Parisian scene with the presence in her gallery in 1963 of works including the assembled objects of 1962. Jouffroy wrote both for the 1963 exhibition at La Tartaruga gallery, then in the magazines "Domus" and "Metro" articles reflecting on assembling materials and techniques, painting and objects, as he had already, also pointed out by himself, done for the major 1961 MoMA exhibition The Art of Assemblage, of which Collages et Objets is intended to be a further stage. The works presented at MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique are the outcome of a second phase of Baruchello's research.

Baruchello's early works are mainly objects and experiments with painting. The painting uses sticky industrial liquids, bright red anti-rust paints, white Maxoloid, vinavil. Between 1962 and 1963 he refers to images of an alphabet of entities that he places alone, or only in twos and threes in space. He uses industrial colors, develops a technique to age the present, resulting in "craquelures" of the surface. In fact it is also a way to image the fragility of meanings. In 1963, only a year before he tried his hand at one of the first filmic experiments in found footage, namely the film Uncertain Verification subtitled Disperse Exlamatory Phase, Baruchello is interested in the hypothesis, the error, the probable. He measures himself against the arbitrariness of any statement: for him he there is no solution: "il n'y a pas de solution...." In a 1961 text/manifesto, Means and Meanings Baruchello speaks of a "Palomar effect of thinking from 10 to 100 degrees" and of "dilation-explosion " of space and time. The Tecnolatra is a painting that shows an explosion, a moment of mental and physical deflagration. The "technique" alluded to is that of a painting rethought as a possibility of crossing the boundaries between science, technique and philosophy. This phase of dispersion/loss of centrality, both identity and mental, is the premise of a painting that as early as the end of 1963 comes to reduce images and structure space through agglomerations of small images among which it is the multiple connections that establish ever-changing directions of reading and paths of the gaze.

Baruchello experiences the Roman context through important friendships: Mario Schifano, Tano Festa, Mimmo Rotella (he is in New York with them in 1962, in the New Realists exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery). His relations with Paris, (with Alain Jouffroy, Pierre Restany, Robert Sebastian Matta, Robert Lebel, Marcel Duchamp) go back to the very early 1960s. New York, Munich also see him present in solo and group exhibitions. However, Baruchello often tells of the importance of French culture and in particular poetry: Arthur Rimbaud especially is one of his literary sources. Since the 1960s, his work has entered the collections of MoMA and the Guggenheim in New York, as well as the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.

His research mindful of the painting of Paul Klee, Joan Miró, and Dadaist experiments (revised through what for him is the fundamental poetic/narrative world of Alberto Savinio or Alberto Burri) soon knows what is happening in both Paris and New York. Disinterested in trends, he met Cy Twombly in Rome in 1961, while in New York he was in contact with the American neo-avant-garde. He knew John Cage, and already in those years Öyvind Fahlström, who in February 1964 preceded Baruchello's 1964 solo show at Cordier& Ekstrom with his exhibition.

In artworks such as The Technolater, and in the other works exhibited at MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique, Baruchello uses industrial enamels, red minium. He uses overlapping layers of white, obtained with different kinds of color: industrial enamels, casein whites, wax crayons. He furrows surfaces, tries to bring out depth and reverse directions (inside-outside, depth-surface) to urge the eye to open up to go beyond the surface. Painting is for him a mental happening that acts on the surface to rethink space without boundaries, where center and edges have equal importance. The colors are energetic and define surfaces thought as the intersection of multiple planes of space and time. "Painter philosopher," as Dore Ashton had called him, encyclopedic artist, creator of monograms as "deposits of narrative energy" according to Jean-François Lyotard, to whom he was very close, Baruchello or "of becoming nomads" according to Gilbert Lascault, conceived painting and everything he made (fictional societies, cinema, activity between art and agriculture, gardens, forests) as an adventure of the mind, which must know how to take risks, to experience the unprecedented.

These works, belonging to a phase of research that experiments with the possibility of rethinking painting through the object or moving image, introduce questions that would remain at the center of Baruchello's research. Only at the end of 1963, the explosion to which these works refer produces a fragmentation that generates the multiplication of small images in the space of painting, plexiglass and the objects, coming to form linguistic and mental microsystems, arranged without hierarchies in a space of multiple relations, which invites the gaze to move nomadically.

Carla Subrizi

The Artist

Gianfranco Baruchello

Gianfranco Baruchello