Still Swooning: Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi
Over the course of more than two decades Rudolf Stingel has brought to the fore an approach to painting that is as much about seeing as it is about making. Moving freely between abstraction and representation, in both intimate and monumental scales, Stingel has seduced viewers with his ornate surfaces and simultaneously undermined expectations of what painting can and should be. His work has been straddling the poles of conceptual deadpan-ness and aesthetic gratification for more than two decades. Although he considers himself a painter, his work often takes the form of all-over interventions in architectural space, broadening and destabilizing the definition of traditional painting. Stingel’s technique of applying oil paint and/or enamel onto paper through a tulle screen and variations of this technique to create monochrome or patterned paintings since the late 1980s. In 1989, he published Instructions, an illustrated “do-it-yourself” guide with step-by-step guidelines to create his abstract paintings. In so doing, and in suggesting that everyone could produce a work of abstraction by following a simple set of instructions, Stingel was debunking the transcendental and metaphysical loftiness sometimes associated with abstract art.
The Artist; Massimo di Carlo , Milan; Private Collection; Gagosian Gallery, New York; Private collection until the present
Since the 1980s, Rudolf Stingel has been interrogating his chosen medium, asking what is a painting, who makes them, and how are they made, in his own paintings, installations, and conceptual projects. Turning notions of authenticity, hierarchy, meaning, and context on their head, Stingel courts audience participation and uses unlikely materials in his work. He is known for covering exhibition spaces with carpeting (most recently the Palazzo Grassi in Venice), and with panels overlaid with malleable silver sheets, and inviting viewers to mark them as they please, likening the result to allover paintings, freed from the confines of the canvas, expected materials, and the hand of the artist himself. Stingel also produces more traditional-seeming oil-on-canvas compositions. Ranging from blurred to photorealistic, they position painting as an unreliable repository of memory, inevitably mediated by time and by the artist’s subjectivity.
Italian, b. 1956, Merano, Italy, based in New York, New York; Merano, Italy