Gianluigi Maria Masucci / Transcribing movement
16th January - 14th February 2016
No walk, no work
For Alberto Giacometti “bodies are never a compact mass but are transparent constructions”. While an immobile figure surrounds itself in a closed space, he explains, a mobile figure opens up space. Gianluigi Maria Masucci’s paintings are composed of ideographic movements enlivened as much by the energy within them as by the space which surrounds them. His compositions, set out in dense and noisy throngs, sketch interior forces and open up perspectives. Signs are not merely lines, they are intense witnesses of the artist’s relation to art since childhood and of an acknowledged debt to theatre, architectural studies, painting and a strong interest in digital art.
The strokes or signs are witnesses of the artist’s internal adventure, they reflect the way the world is perceived by a young Neapolitan artist. On the workbench of his studio neither mescaline nor suffering is needed to transcribe his familiar writing gestures similar in appearance to the work of Henri Michaux – known for his metaphysical anguish. Gianluigi Maria is not desperately searching for ways to escape, on the contrary, he is profoundly attached to the world. The camera allows him to capture his immediate environment: in Naples, the camera is trained on the upper levels of the streets to capture hanging washing, or on chattering and dancing people. In Geneva, the camera records the incessant and powerful flow of the Rhône. “Exterior” journeys allows the artist to experience “interior” journeys later. In his workshop, paintbrush in hand, he reproduces the intensity of the emotional experience and its vital energy. Whether described in video or ink, each has its own autonomous existence. Independently or placed together in an installation their moods multiply – a murmur, power, threat, enthusiasm – in a rhythm that is dry, nervy, hesitant, vibrant. An inventive and repetitive syntax, free and animated which revives the interest in movement of the artists of the 1960s. “No walk, no work” insisted Hamish Fulton. Like him, Gianluigi Maria Masucci makes movement an inviolable foundation of his work. Movement and travel are the essence – because to walk again and again is to remember, to glimpse, to forget, to insist, to rediscover. “Know that it is due to this multitude of small things that the illusion is maintained; it is difficult enough to imagine them, even more to portray them. A gesture may sometimes be as sublime as a word, then it is all these detailed truths which prepare the soul for deep impressions of great events” (Eloge de Richardson, Diderot). The signs assembled in the works of Gianluigi Maria open a space beyond the support and clearly create an event, a promise of change./ Karine Tissot
Movement, space; movement in space, such as a crowd, or dancers in a public space, in a theatre. Bodies meet, dialogue, respond to each other or distance themselves. From such observations, Gianluigi Maria Masucci began to develop a unique artistic language composed of signs drawn with existing instruments or instruments made by himself, on various different supports. To achieve the desired degree of abstraction and intensity in depicting movement, he had to call on his academic training when he created highly realist drawings of human figures. This was followed by seven years in a theatrical workshop were he learned about body language and its codes. Studies in video and editing taught him about the transformation of a work by mixing sequences. Since then, this artist has integrated an ordered temporal dimension into his artistic method by consecutive lines. He uses an unusual support, composite aluminium panels. The thin glossy plastic covering and the square format of the support suggests a screen and makes the transition to painting more obvious. This return to painting is accompanied, thanks to various experiments, by intensification of the links between observation of movement and the gradual recognition that through drawing he also transcribes his emotions and moods, resulting in a deeper knowledge of himself. Gianluigi Maria Masucci’s painting thus becomes a perpetual movement between observation of reality, recording that through hand gestures, and learning about himself. Video has allowed him to recreate the movement in a painting from photographs of each pictogram in works created over a three-year period, to produce a 22-minute film entitled Shape Sequences. One room in the gallery shows these dancing forms which give a new dimension to the painting by sublimating it through the size of the sketched bodies and the changing texture of the background. An ambiguous relationship with the virtual support of the projected images is in this way maintained. In the centre of the room, a picture in white lacquer on red aluminium, creates a particularly intriguing contrast. The brilliant surface of the red disc reflects the images moving around it, superimposing a double virtual layer onto the physical painting. The round red form concentrates the energy flowing from the videos and anchors it in physical space at the focal point in the room.
From the human body, Masucci’s interest is held by the movement of bedsheets that Naples’ inhabitants hang from their windows, fragments of their private lives brazenly exposed to the ‘other’. A sheet bears the imprint of a body, its essence and dreams in the same way as Masucci’s paintings, where he is present and has incorporated part of himself, concentrate moments of his existence. The initial result is a video, Dichiarazione d’amore, which shows sheets billowing in the wind seen from below. Observation of this new movement prompted the artist to begin a series of drawings on paper the size and texture of which resembles a sheet. He has used acrylic ink which allows him to reproduce most accurately the jerky movement of the fabric in the wind, some parts darker and others nearly evanescent. These works are in the form of landscapes with a more sombre horizon line on which dark and closely-knit signs collect and grow larger as they move to the bottom of the sheet to form a kind of crowd on the march. The novelty of this work lies in the composition which has left more space at the margins. This series is entitled Revolution.
When Gianluigi Maria Masucci arrived in Geneva it was the river which first caught his attention because its movement and the way in which it is perceived contrast with the sea of his place of birth. The fluctuating movement of the two Geneva rivers, the Rhône and the Arve, absorbed the artist for several months during which he spent many hours observing and filming. Because ink is better suited to painting water, the drawings in the series are done with a paintbrush with flowing and clean lines, and they constitute his current series.
Within the context of this exhibition and in collaboration with the ANTIGEL festival, the artist has created a second video installation for the La Chapelle urban quarter presented as part of the Antigel Festival and in partnership with a participative artistic project by the dancer and choreographer Aurélien Dougé. For the space of an evening, Masucci transformed the square between four minimalist buildings by the architects Bassicarrella, into a theatre stage. The installation defines, on the inside of a footpath used daily by the inhabitants, a new performing space which enlivens the facades of the buildings, on which animated silhouettes open the architecture to a new dimension. At the same time the inhabitants, who have been invited to take part in the piece, move according to a choreography orchestrated by the dancer. An environment dematerialised by video images depicts a new space, that of theatre and metaphor, within an urban context. Participants at the event re-give a physical expression to the painting and renew in the present the temporal succession of movements which feature in all the paintings of the artist./NK