Separated by geography and generation, different in their use of materials, the works of the two artists are presented in individual spaces in the gallery in two distinct exhibits carrying the same name: Shape, color, taste, sound and smell.
The first room contains recent pieces by Adelaide Cioni in wool, flan- nel and cloth; acrylic on paper. The subjects are simple, direct, taken from a collective imaginary that crosses vernacular culture and modernist language. Iconic images that defy interpretation and narration: the pattern of a cloth is a checkerboard, a sea, a compositional grid. A circle is a sun or a black hole. A stain is a flower – and a stain.
The second room features a body of work by Guy Mees belonging to the Lost Space cycle and limited to the 1980s and 1990s – cut-outs of paper and canvas installed directly on the wall, color escaping from the frame – and a work in pastels on photographic paper, part of the artist’s successive study on the relationship between color and space (and the space photographed – it is worth noting – is that of the home, an experiential, non-abstract space).
Lost Space is also the name Mees assigned to a series of works made in the 1960s, and of a text written by the theater director Wim Meuwissen to which the artist returned, calling on the intervention of the copywriter Willem-Joris Lagrillère, entrusting a translation to Henri-Floris Jespers, and rethinking the piece through annotations and permutations of the order of the phrases. The title of the exhibitions is taken from this text. The space referred to by these lines – one of the very few writings by Mees, who was famously reluctant to narrate and to conceptualize his work – is a room in his home, left empty, white, but open to his friends, a room that “makes artifice more difficult, tactility easier”.This lost space “defines only the body: shape, color, taste, sound and smell”.
The Shape, color, taste, sound and smell are therefore those of the viewer, invited to engage in an immediate interaction with the works, without superstructures. An engagement that is also corporeal: my volume in front of the volume of the work, in the same place.
The works of Mees and Cioni, placed side by side, but each in its own location, clarify a shared idea of painting as color freed from its support, pure autonomous form, non-narrative image, manifested in its direct and immediate relationship with the viewer, in the space.
Apparently simple poetics, which thanks to the light grace of immediacy make serious play correspond to apparent spontaneity, precision of gesture, fragility and modesty of material, and a luminous monumentality.
Courtesy of P420, Bologna
Photo by C. Favero