Mario Schifano (Homs 1934 – Rome 1998), Untitled
Mixed media on paper cm 100 x 70, signed (Schifano) lower right, datable to 1979. Artwork registered by Mario Schifano Foundation on 8th, April, 2002 with the number 79/120.
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Mario Schifano’s reflection on the iconic power of images marks his entire artistic career. Already in the early 1970s, the exhibition “Paesaggi TV”, held in December 1970, testifies to the search for a pictorial language capable of merging tradition with the irruption of new media in everyday life: in the works exhibited on that occasion it begins to bring back the video images directly on emulsified canvas, isolating them from the narrative rhythm of the sequences to which they belong and repeating them with touches of nitro color in an alienating function. In this regard, Schifano says: “The process is long and elaborate. But only in this way can I obtain those effects of realism and visionary that I run with my imagination”.
Schifano seemed to have understood that to better defend himself from the cathode ray tube it was necessary to put a diaphragm between himself and reality, to paint through mediation. The reflection of an aesthetic nature led him not only to cut out photos from newspapers but also to film with the Polaroid scenes from films from television, sometimes pornographic films in boxes that he then reworked in paintings. He argued, in fact, that images mediated through photography or cinema were much more fascinating, capable of innumerable and unthinkable cues, also because his was an imagination naturally carried to distort.
The work presented here is symptomatic of the Roman artist’s production focused on the irruption of television, his great muse, in the fervent creativity of the faber. In particular, the work seems to be inspired by the reflections conducted by the philosopher Karl Popper whom felt the urgency to expose socially the problem posed by TV, in which he saw dangerous structural vices. Schifano takes a pornographic image, depicting a scene of Sapphic love, transferring it to the emulsified canvas where it acts with nitro colors.
The artist then re-animates the evanescent image of the video which, through the personalization of his pictorial gesture, violates the coldness of the medium, giving the object its aura again. The work in question, therefore, fits into the corpus of photographs retouched with enamel and acrylic, emulsified canvases, computer-prepared canvases, photographically portrayed advertisements and large canvases depicting the television, performed by Schifano from the end of the 1970s.