Why the Still House’s strikes differ from Fontana, Burri and César


Among the recent attempts to enhance the connection between contemporary art and the art by dead artists, we have to count “Strike(s)”, at Nahmad Contemporary in New York (until 1 March). The show questions three strange couples: Lucio Fontana and Peter Sutherland, Alex Perweiler and Alberto Burri, Dylan Lynch and César.


The works selected for the show are linked, or should be read as linked to the term “strike”, that is to say a basic gesture of the art practice. The relation perfectly works both in the case of Fontana’s cuts with Sutherland’s printed flames, and with Burri’s black “Combustion” with Perweiler’s one. The strike embedded in César’s “Compression” is of a different kind, nevertheless it matches with the bowling ball crashed into the gallery wall. The walk on the field of the similarities is pleasant, interesting and refreshing.


At the same time, this occasion is relevant also in terms of the differences that brings to light, particularly the epoch to which the artworks belong. For example, Fontana was reflecting a society which, after the second world war, was running very fast towards the future. He had faith in the progress and he was playing, as many other artists at that time, an active role in the construction of the society he lived in. His dialogue with architects was a prove of this approach to the art practice. The way in which the cuts were made – always perfectly sharp in a pure colour-filed painted on a well stretched canvas – represents a positivity that at the moment seems unknown, for example, to Peter Sutherland. If read through the lenses of the artist’s beautiful blog, his flames are a kind of perfect beauty conceived to keep on moving on the surface, like a streaker, or a logo over a camera. The transparency that characterizes the image is the opposite of the solid black void created by Fontana. Sutherland’s flames are a formal episode out of cosmology, or theory of any kind. They are matter of fact, suggested by a struggling research of the nothingness.

July 18, 2015