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For his first one-person show at Galleria Lorcan O’Neill, Gianni Politi – born in Rome in 1986 – has created the most comprehensive presentation of his diverse practice.

The show includes three types of work: abstract paintings made using scraps of canvas with acrylic, oil and household paint; small portraits on canvas; and bronze stretchers of varying sizes realized with multi-colored patinas, marble and painted wood inserts.

The exhibition exposes the process that the artist uses to move from a body of work to the next, employing the materials that were discarded from previous works to invent and bring to the dignity of new work what was temporarily left behind in the process of selection and creation. Everything that happens in the studio matters for Politi. His work centers precisely on the struggle of the artist in his tension to move toward the finished work and the invention of new forms of expression; his art gives body to this process.


It does so while being deeply indebted to Italian tradition: abstract forms become references to modern Italian art, freely interpreted and transfigured. Like Burri’s, Politi’s methods are unconventional and make use of sparse resources: he recycles materials, including industrial and commercial canvas; he creates abstract collage constructions made from torn cloth, roughly glued together and stretched across the canvas in a way that recalls Fontana slashes made with a sharp knife. His large canvases seem to create an original bridge between Abstract Expressionism and twentieth-century Italian masters; and Politi’s use of colour often references Italian paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Politi’s portraits, on the other hand, explore tradition through the theme of memory: they are oil paintings on canvas measuring 24 x 18 cm, the result of a process of mental reconstruction started from the study of a 1770 portrait by Gaetano Gandolfi: the face of a bearded man that reminded Politi of his father who died aged 78 when the artist was just 16. What emerged from this catalyst encounter was an enquiry into memory and the faint trace of a father’s face and a parallel exercise of painting using different techniques, colours, degrees of fidelity or abstraction.

The bronzes are his most recent work: they are cast of stretchers used for canvas, treated with elaborate patinas of different colours and completed with marble and wood inserts. They continue and push forward the artist’s quest for making the medium of painting.

Painting and Sculpture by Gianni Politi
Lorcan O'Neill, Rome
Through January 27


Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
Sharjah Art Foundation
Casino Luxembourg
Commissioned by DIS
Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon
Fondazione Prada Online project
Galerie Maria Bernheim, Zurich
Xavier Hufkens, Brussels