Solo show

curated by Rossella Moratto
September 16 – October 4  2016
Studio Maraniello, Milano

The striving for perfection may seem obsolete today, in a complex and entropic era that has buried the great ideologies under the blanket of postmodernism, leaving ample space to subjectivity and narcissism, and an expressiveness that demands a kind of freedom without constraints. However, it is a  more current issue than ever if understood as the claim of a type of creativity that is opposed to the cacophony of a fantastic proliferation, in a brave attempt to give a systematic horizon to one’s own practice, in a continuous self-reflective effort: to reduce the variety of phenomena to limited and constant elements, justified, and developed with a strict internal logic, with the intention to strive for perfection.

This is the thrust that moves Monica Mazzone’s research: the adoption of an analytical perspective that—distant relative of the Conceptualism of the 70’—declines it in the present and in the limits of a disciplinary specificity which justifies its foundation on theoretical and objective parameters, albeit arbitrarily chosen.

Mazzone takes personal issues that affect the ability of individual expression and the relationship between self and world as a point of departure. Nevertheless, she always determines some limits, restrains her radius of action and her tools. There is a clear need for “self-truth” [1] (verità di se) and also, rejecting the immediate drive-guided and self-centered expression, the need to contain and rationalize one’s own emotions to make them communicable, in the secret ambition to create a universal visual language.

However, this is not resignation of one’s subjectivity but the will to found it consciously entrenching one’s practice on concrete methodological premises. It is the choice of a disciplinary and specific commitment, based on the formalization of the process and on a deductive development, on the adoption of mathematical criteria that starting from a given hypothesis come to an unexceptionable conclusion.

«The mathematical approach in contemporary art is not mathematics itself and hardly makes use of what we know as mathematics. It is primarily a use of processes of logical thought towards the plastic of rhythms and relationships .»[2]

This sentence by Max Bill perfectly describes the intent of the artist, that is, the will to visually convey the logical relationships that underpin her work.

The initial question is “What is the smallest possible gesture to create an image?”: The analysis of the Point in Space and its development is the answer that gave rise to the series of sculptures IL MINIMO (the minimum), conceived by speculating the movement of a point on an area by improperly using a 3D software, forcing it to behave as if it was operating on a two-dimensional plane—making the Cartesian axes to match—thus generating graphics, ellipses and hyperboles from which simple geometric shapes derive, that are then multiplied and assembled.

This rationality is reflected in the harmony and balance of the work, the result of an immediately perceptible consistency.

The obvious reference to Minimalism is a present but remote suggestion in the polygonal geometry of the Image-Objects—thus Mazzone defines her works by highlighting the overcoming of the idea of sculpture and painting, and of two and three-dimensionality—and their variations, as well as in the two-dimensional works: flat colour fields­, painted without gestural traces matching the colours according to a complementary logic, which combinations evokes emotional horizons. In the use of color—although normally the artist prefers shades of gray which she considers the equivalent in colour to silence—there can be detected a polysemic parenthesis, because the complementary opposition recalls the duality present in the real, and the less frequent use of gold alludes to the pictorial tradition.

Starting from IL MINIMO, Mazzone takes a step further and presents a new series of Image-Objects that expresses the consistent evolution, focusing on the progress of a straight line, in its many representative possibilities, virtual or actual. The straight line is a drive in its becoming, the emotional component that pushes and moves the point, is the intentional motor of the Picture-Object: according Mazzone it means “to add to the minimum forms a controlled emotional charge’, making empirical the geometric process that produces a visual image with a sentimental impulse, summarized by the title “The Intention of a Straight Line”.

Explicitly referring to orthogonal or isometric projections, Manzone creates continuous forms that represent the tipping space and—by matching the two-dimensional projection with three-dimensionality—incorporate in themselves their processing power. They are transcriptions of a conceptual process that is made concrete by describing a hypothetical but plausible dimension, mental and real at the same time.

So, the identity between sculpture and space becomes apparent, and the indissoluble relationship between Image-Object and exhibition environment, as in La porzione della metà, a geometric assembly embracing the supporting column of the exhibition hall, of which it represents a possible development. Or as in Elenchi, which mirror themselves, one being the negative part of the other; or even Proiezionesemplice2, a diptych that depicts, almost tautologically, the concept that underpins the whole ensemble works.

Mazzone’s Image-Objects are the bearers of a double intention, theoretical and related to the praxis, imaginary prototypes, each of which is an attempt to arrive to a more precise balance between formal outcome and conceptual principle. Ideally these Image-Objects are part of a movement to approach perfection, they reflect a tension towards the absolute and at the same time a reflection, cool and detached, of their own relationship with the present.

Rossella Moratto

[1] «Verità di sé », Dino Formaggio,  I giorni dell’arte, p. 131. (Complete disclosure of one’s own operating structures)
[2] Max Bill, The Matematical Approach in Contemporary Art, in «Structure», serie III, n. 2, Bussum, Holland, p. 65, riportato in Filiberto Menna, La linea analitica dell’arte moderna, Einaudi, Torino, 1984, p. 73.


exhibition view

ph. Cosimo Filippini


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