Vorrei incontrare gli architetti (I Wish to Meet Architects) is the title that Bonalumi (1935–2013) gave to one of his exhibitions in 1969. A clear reference to a desire to seek new spacial solutions to his art, it was in line with the modern tradition of the “synthesis of arts”, a theory from the thirties that combined synthetic painting, sculpture and architecture in one large “habitable” creation. Bonalumi has built upon years of extraordinary creativity, inventing – with Enrico Castellani – the linguistic system of tele estroflesse (extroflexed canvas), which aimed to release painting from the slavery of its traditional framework without entirely abandoning it.
The environmental side of Bonalumi’s work was a direct consequence of these theories, and was highlighted in 1967, when his work was presented in the key exhibition, Lo Spazio dell’immagine (The Space of Image) in Foligno, Italy. Here, many of the most important Italian artists at the time were asked to create an environment. On this occasion, Bonalumi presented Blu abitabile, the first of his fundamental works of this genre, of which there are relatively few.
In the following six years, Bonalumi focused almost entirely on creating environments from extroflexed combinable modules. These works created an almost “organic” space, taking over the walls and floor, as shown at the Museum Ostwall, Dortmund in 1968, and in his solo show at the Venice Biennale in 1970.
This form of art, with its link to architectural concepts, was conceived by Bonalumi as an alternative to the “object-framework”, as a rebellion against the art market, and as an exploration of a form of art that sets out to transform the perception of the viewer. With each environment, Bonalumi over-turns the traditional perception of the work, literally moving the viewer inside of it, governing all senses, not just sight.
With its eight-metre length, the work Bianco recalls the artistic atmosphere of those years, which was always looking for new boundaries to overcome.
Marco Meneguzzo, curator of the show, has produced in collaboration with Fabrizio Bonalumi (Agostino’s son), a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s works, recently published by Skira Editore.
Cortesi Gallery has also published a catalogue to correspond with the exhibition, which includes an essay by Meneguzzo. This text explores the environmental aspects of Bonalumi’s works, offering profound insight into the work and practice of the artist.