Carolina Nitsch is pleased to announce Jannis Kounellis: Objects, an exhibition that features the artist’s late multimedia, boxed multiples, which combine original lithographic prints with found objects.
Jannis Kounellis (1936–2017) was a significant pioneer and contributor to the Arte Povera movement of the late 1960s and created powerfully bold sculptures from appropriated “poor” objects such as wood, coal, steel and lead. These materials were often arranged in unusual combinations or piled in overwhelming quantities, which emphasized raw materiality, industrialization and immediacy.
The works in this exhibition, from 2003-2015, each present a found object(s) situated against a lithographic background presented inside a metal frame. Each work is an edition of 25 variants, all different due to the use of original raw materials in each. In most of the works, the printed background in some way, references the objects in the corresponding boxes by imitating their potential action or use as a kind of “action print”. The billiard balls appear to have been rolled or hit across the paper; a coat sleeve seems pushed down in varying positions as a stamp; the iron looks as if it were pressed back and forth across the background. Other works present a more subtle sense of potential action through simple placement and isolation in an industrial container. They each have their own unique and potent sense of presence which is “felt” by the viewer due to our personal and collective associations with these objects.
Born in Piraeus, the port of Athens, Kounellis emigrated to Rome at the age of 20, after initially studying art in Athens. In Rome he was particularly affected by the work of Alberto Burri and Piero Manzoni. His first exhibition in 1960 displayed a series of Alphabet paintings of stenciled letters, numbers and traffic signs on canvass. By the late 60’s he abandoned traditional art supports and medium in favor of shelves, doors and bed-frames. Social protest in America and Europe in the late 60’s and early 70’s was reflected in the work of the Arte Povera artists and Kounellis’ work involving propane, candles, soot and fire can be seen as a subtle reflection on this tumultuous period.
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