The surface of each print in the ten-piece suite toggles between shiny and matte black, overlaid
with angular and round geometric shapes that stand out against the different background textures.
The smooth and rough backdrops shift according to the shapes found on the print, creating a
pattern of texture that supports the aesthetics of each shape. Burri designed each piece in the suite
as part of a larger unit, creating a careful composition that embraces the importance of texture and
shape in creating visual meaning and coherence.
In order to create Mixoblack, Burri designed models for his prints using acrylic and marble powder
on Masonite, producing images that were deeply expressive in their manipulation of texture, while
remaining refined in their simple use of one pigment. His use of shiny and matte black inks creates
an juxtaposition of light and texture that adds dimensionality to each panel of the series. The semi-
circles, squares, trapezoids, and other shapes are simple and unimposing, but the subtle
differentiation of textures and the variants of black seem to bring them to life.
Although simple, Mixoblack puts forth a deeper motivation for the artist’s practice. While designing
his artwork in the Mixografia workshop, Burri revealed that his fascination with the color black
stemmed in part from its association with an “end”, such as death or the termination of a day. Yet
the artist also understood black’s potential as the first step before the beginning of a regenerative
cycle. One of the last artworks completed before Burri’s death, Mixoblack expresses that within total
darkness it there is the possibility of finding hope and the promise of a new beginning, like the
guarantee of a breaking dawn. In this piece, Burri challenged the audience to find their own
“beginning” and “end” in the darkness, using black as a medium for the discovery of hope.
Alberto Burri is the subject of the major retrospective Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, on view from October 9, 2015 until January 6, 2016.
Mixoblack is on view at Mixografia's booth 300 at the 2015 IFPDA Print Fair at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, from November 5 until November 8.