Fabio Mauri (Senza Arte)
Bergamin & Gomide is pleased to present, starting on March 11th, the first solo exhibition in Brazil of Italian artist Fabio Mauri (1926 – 2009), who participated in dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012, in Kassel, as well as in six editions of the Venice Biennale (1954, 1974, 1978, 1993, 2013 and 2015). The exhibition FABIO MAURI (SENZA ARTE) was produced in partnership with Hauser & Wirth and organized with Olivier Renaud-Clément.
Born in Rome in 1926, Mauri had his life and work marked by the rise of fascism, the Second World War and the horrors of the holocaust. His family owned one of the most important publishing houses in Italy and he was brought up among writers and artists, becoming a close friend of intellectuals and important names of the postwar Italian avant-garde, such as Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Jannis Kounellis.
In the late 1950s, Mauri began his career as an artist working within traditional formats, such as painting on canvas and drawing on paper. Since the beginning, his work was already imbued with ideological and political issues. This concern would increase in the following decades as he veered toward more contemporary media, particularly his interest in the “projected image” and the “dark screen” of cinema and television, using videos and projections. The element of the screen is used in many ways; images being central to projections and representation are often time voided in order to reinforce their weight. While the screen can be simply represented without any images, a body would then be used to receive the projection. Mauri was also interested in the theatrical element, through the insertion of the public into his actions/performances and installations whether as participants or as mere observers.
A total of 25 works were selected for the exhibition at the gallery, primarily from the series Senza Arte and Photo finish/Carboncini. The Zerbini (Carpets), his last body of work created for dOCUMENTA (13), under the direction of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, will occupy the center of the exhibition: two large carpets from 2009 with the sayings Forse l’arte non è autonoma [Perhaps Art is not Autonomous] and Non ero nuovo [I was not New]. Along with them in the main room will be the installations On the Liberty (1990), with the phrase written with the electric wire that turns on the bulb in the center, and Ventilatore (1990), in which a fan is placed in front of a canvas. In the second room will be displayed thirteen works from the series Photo Finish (1976), where objects are placed in front of a black background. The last gallery is reserved for the projection of the video Seduta su l’ombra, from 1977. The recurring theme of Fine/The End will be present throughout the exhibition as used to be the case at the end of most classical movies. All works have never been seen before in Brazil and form an in-depth selection of the artist’s work.
Working in parallel with the major art movements of the time, such as Pop Art and Arte Povera, Mauri encouraged discussion on how the role of the media shaped society in the 1960s, when television was still in its infancy. While artists in Europe and the United States explored the nuances of consumerism and dissected the essential materials of artistic creation, Mauri opened a front of questioning that went beyond esthetics and representation: How can we give form to something so abstract as an ideology? What are the roles of the artist, the public and the media within this discussion? These issues that the artist explored for so many years have become extremely pertinent nowadays. His work reflects crucial elements of life in society and of the thinking of modern man.
Most recently, in 2014, the Fundacio Proa in Buenos Aires hosted an important retrospective of Mauri. In 2015 the work Il Muro Occidentale o del Pianto [The Western or the Wailing Wall], from 1993, occupied the first room of the central pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, and in that same year, the artist was included for the first time in the Istanbul Biennial. His work is included in major museum collections all over Europe.