Santiago Taccetti Inverts the Painting Process, and Challenges the Definition of a Painting

Much like Robert Rauschenberg’s groundbreaking “White Paintings” that focused on removing evidence of the artist’s hand, some 64 years later, Santiago Taccetti uses a blank surface to investigate what authorship means in art. But with his all-white works, Taccetti takes the theme in another direction—the reverse, in fact. 

  • Installation view of “Santiago Taccetti, ISO:9001,” courtesy of HUS Gallery

Taccetti’s seemingly empty canvases are not at all about nothingness. Rather than seeking minimalism by reducing or removing elements, Taccetti inverts the painting process. To create the large-scale textured canvases of his “Einstatzbereich Innen - Außen” series (2014), he applies his material—acrylic house paint—to the reverse of his canvases, using various instruments to press into the surface. To the viewer, the process is obscured, as only the imprints of Taccetti’s tools are visible in the embossed surfaces of the canvases; the thick layers of paint behind them remain hidden.

These untitled works are currently on view at London’s HUS Gallery as part of “ISO:9001,” the first solo show in the U.K. for the Berlin-based Argentine artist. The exhibition’s title references the International Organization for Standardization, whose guidelines govern everything from film speed to child safety, and specifically ISO 9001, the “quality management” regulations that determine if products pass the industry-standard requirements. As such, Taccetti questions his own place in the artistic canon—do these works meet the requirements of paintings if we don’t see any paint?   

  • Installation view of “Santiago Taccetti, ISO:9001,” courtesy of HUS Gallery

Through much of Taccetti’s work, medium is at the core of his concerns. He chooses his materials for their chemical compositions, lending them—at the chemical level, at least—some agency beyond the artist’s control. As a result, the rippled, relief-like surfaces of his canvases situate the pieces somewhere between painting and sculpture, reversing the relationship between form and surface found in his earlier sculptures. 

To make those works, Taccetti applied color and the types of industrial ingredients found in processed food to stones; his only intervention was to add color to pre-existing forms, creating sculptures that he himself did not sculpt. “I shy away from authorship,” Taccetti has said of his sculptural practice. “I’m interested in the aesthetics but I want to be in collaboration with the content of the materials.” In translating these concerns to canvas, Taccetti shifts the conversation to a new format, but continues to question the point at which raw material transforms into an art object.

Heather Corcoran

ISO:9001” is on view at HUS Gallery, London, Mar. 26–Apr. 25, 2015.

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