Spalletti’s Suspended Hour

The close dialogue developed by Ettore Spalletti with the Palazzo Cini in Venice makes him one of today’s most poetic and classical contemporary artists.

Ettore Spalletti, Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
The second floor of Palazzo Cini – recently opened to the public as a house-museum with the backing of the Generali Group – welcomes Ettore Spalletti to its temporary exhibition spaces in an ad hoc exhibition strewn with different visual signals.
Different not only in size and materials, the works are primarily an assortment of almost monochrome “bodies”. The panels, papers and objects with simple, familiar forms and the polyhedrons – mindful perhaps of the attributes of Dürer’s Melancholia – stand principally as luminous devices in tenuous, fragile, changing and impermanent colours that are also tenacious and persistent in their volatile nature. They are bodies of colour with a sensual and velvety skin, achieved by scraping the layer of colour in pursuit of a certain epithelial consistency particularly well suited to the surroundings and reinforced by the tilted angle given to every surface in relation to the light sources.
Ettore Spalletti, Senza titolo, Bianco. Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
Ettore Spalletti, Senza titolo, Bianco. Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
The close dialogue developed by Spalletti with the venue, the lagoon light and the echoes of a certain Venetian painting palette – especially Tiepolo’s pinks and blues – as well as references to the polyptychs with gold grounds conserved on the floor below in the permanent collection and the choice of works and their carefully studied positioning all make for a truly special exhibition.
Spalletti is the officiating priest of the painting ritual, a painting that is minimal but also rich. Opening themselves up to the space and spread through the rooms, the works are arranged like apparitions and visitors quickly find themselves snared in a play of luminous phenomena that favours resonance with the intimate frequency of the colour.
Ettore Spalletti, Trittico. Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
Ettore Spalletti, Trittico. Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015

Here, the pink and blue are more notions, whiffs almost, than real colours. The gold is dazzling light that undermines the simple completeness of the forms, often erasing their corners and two surfaces – celestial and sky blue – on two different walls are drawn to each other like magnets, so close they almost touch in a corner of the room.

The quality of these echoes of colour, the ability of these bodies to absorb and release light, the special way the supports are moved and the space is occupied and scattered with few but pervading presences are all unique to Spalletti’s approach, which is a glorious celebration of painting and its history – from Fra Angelico to Piero della Francesca and Malevich.

Spalletti also theoretically demands that contemporary art take responsibility for space. The frame has been forever broken and painting drawn into life, as teaches Vedova with his Plurimo works. The Venetian master seemingly so far removed in manner from Spalletti is actually extremely close, given their shared sense of the inadequacy of the conventional painting language.
Ettore Spalletti, Testa, La bella addormentata. Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
Ettore Spalletti, Testa, La bella addormentata. Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
The tempo imposed on the architectural space by Spalletti’s works turns the rooms into chapters of a book founded on an alternation of havens of shadowy peace and moments of accelerated movement. His Sapone (1998) is like a large bean which Lucio Fontana would have liked. It is fixed to the wall on just one side to such powerful effect that the wall is “demolished” and the gaze moves elsewhere. The white cubes of alabaster emitting a secret light, the gilded corners that fade away and even the work titles all speak of little miracles, glimmers of a precious everyday life.
Ettore Spalletti, veduta della mostra, Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
Ettore Spalletti, exhibition view, Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
The full realisation of the immersive state offered by the exhibition relies largely on the visitor’s readiness to allocate time to the visual experience. The longer the gaze is allowed to rest on Spalletti’s works, the more that je ne sais quoi he presents becomes a breath that expands to engage all the senses and radiates out to the surroundings. The rooms displaying the works cannot contain the force of an inconspicuous but inexhaustible energy that ends up pushing itself outside its given space and through the windows to reconnect with the pale and tenuous matter of the sky.
Ettore Spalletti, vedute della mostra, Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015
Ettore Spalletti, exhibition views, Palazzo Cini, Venezia 2015

Just as visitors to the Monet rooms at the Orangerie in Paris find themselves floating inebriated by the diffused light, glare and reflections, so too do visitors to the second floor of Palazzo Cini in Venice feel lighter, taking a step towards dematerialisation. Spalletti’s work gives off a sacred aura, comparable only to that of certain works by Yves Klein.

Promoted by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and ASLC with a contribution from Studio la Città di Verona and sponsored by NCTM, this exhibition must be praised for confirming to the international audience of the 56th Venice Biennale that Spalletti is certainly one of today’s most poetic and classical contemporary artists.

© all rights reserved

until 23 August 2015
Ettore Spalletti
Palazzo Cini
Campo San Vio, Dorsoduro 864 Venezia

Latest on Art

Latest on Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram