Spatialism in Outer Space: Lucio Fontana’s “Space Age” Reconsidered in a Group Exhibition in London

When Italian artist Lucio Fontana issued his 1947 Manifesto Spaziale, he made a revolutionary call for artists to move towards the modern age through science and art, eventually launching a movement, Spazialismo, or Spatialism. “Space Age,” a group show at HUS Gallery in London, is a playful response to Fontana’s wish for “art for the space age.” Nathan Green, Santiago Taccetti, Ophelia Finke, and Konrad Wyrebek make high-tech, extraterrestrial art in three dimensions that speak to the tenets of Fontana’s manifesto.

Konrad Wyrebek and Santiago Taccetti’s process-based works reject the traditional forms of painting and embrace the sublime imperfections that arise through the use of technology and variegated material, continuing the experiments that Fontana began with his signature slashed paintings. Wyrebek’s digital prints are shimmering color fields that can only be produced by inducing data errors through image manipulation. Similarly, Taccetti encourages irregularities in his experiments with imprints made with household paint, displaying the impasto forms made by the dimensions of the paint, and like Fontana, breaking the plane of the piece by allowing the wall to be seen through the painting.

In addition to their wall-hung works, both Wyrebek and Taccetti riff on the “Space Age” theme with sci-fi influenced sculptures. Wyrebek modernizes classic subject matter in Amour & Pysche (2011-2014), which at first glance appears to be a marble sculpture but is in fact CNC-routed and laser-cut polyurethane, here updated with its amorous deities reclining over futuristic architecture. Taccetti’s sculptures are abstract, monolithic works that evoke geological artifacts of an unknown planet, as does Nathan Green’s Seaandsky (2014), which organizes rock forms into an ocean-colored gradient, recalling Fontana’s call to expand painting into three dimensions—here his sculptural forms reimagine the boundaries that may be contained within a canvas stretcher.

German artist Ophelia Finke’s sculptures recreate an astronaut’s souvenirs in trophy form: a golden space helmet, a disembodied space suit arm, and an array of the floating padded jackets that are Finke’s signature. Here we look to the past, at collectively remembered forms of the Golden Age of space travel, while being reminded through the other works of the vast potential of technology and art in the future. 

—K. Sundberg

Space Age” is on view at HUS Gallery, London, through October 11th, 2014

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