Matteo Negri. Piano Piano

Juliet, Juliet, December 22, 2016

On the occasion of his solo exhibition “Piano Piano” at ABC Arte in Genova, Lorenzo Bruni encountered and talked with Matteo Negri.


Lorenzo Bruni: Can you explain what is the conceptual core of your solo exhibition in Genoa “Piano Piano”?
Matteo Negri: The answers given from the exhibited works are basically related to the question of how images are “stuck” to artistic objects. How does the external context become part of the object itself? From this point of view, this is not an exhibition about sculpture or painting, but about the role of “public” works of art. For this reason, my process method moved the attention from the form of the object to its essence.


LB: Your recent works are focused on showing, measuring and realizing the space and time, which divide and connect the observer and the object under observation. You might have been inspired by what happened in the history of art, where the attention moved from form to the perception of form itself, and in the social media and digital screen era, where the human subject is able to experience things in a real and virtual way. 

MN: Everything is real and virtual at the same time. These standards must be reconsidered, they are not opposite categories anymore as it happened by the end of the Nineties. My last works – including the video, in which I throw the sculpture/spinning top into the sea, and the wall drawing, including two paintings, made of special resins, representing oblique surfaces – are this: devices to study the influence by digital images in our society, or the culture and perception of the past, going beyond the superficiality connected to our present times’ haste. My “Piano piano” work, conceived for the main ABC gallery’s room, is the core of the exhibition and was realized following this necessity of mine.



LB: The sculpture you mentioned is made of two reflecting surfaces crossing each other. They do not show only themselves but, through their pictorial, lyrical and plastic effects, they also show the environment containing them, both in physical and conceptual ways.

MN: The two surfaces form a kind of disordered composition. Thanks to two special films applied on them, they produce unique color effects. These films are industrial products, they are mainly used in architecture to modify the impact of light on glass walls. In this way, I could create a concrete object and an optical effect in progress. The results are the endless points of view highlighted on the object himself. All these points of view are aware of themselves. I feel these two surfaces, one horizontal and one vertical, finding a balance in the space between them, are a kind of “image hoover”.



LB: So are these “virtual and perspectival” surfaces, which must be considered also as physical and concrete components, your answer to the de-materialization of space through the emerging of social networks, or is it related to a more ancient aspect, such as Escher’s reflections on optical mistakes in the last century? 

MN: Mmm… I try to squeeze the de-materialization you mentioned. Only in this way I am able to create not only a sculptural object, but also a device activating in the observer’s mind a reflection on the perceptive mechanism of the observer itself. To observe and imagine these two surfaces means we must be aware of the point of view through which we imagine/observe them. So this work focuses more on materializing spatial references, rather than being a representation of space. As observers, we find ourselves observing a sculpture reflecting on itself.



LB: Is this process method the same used for the wall drawing, including the “PSA” paintings?

MN: The “PSA” wall drawing is based on the concepts of fullness and emptiness. The serigraph pattern on aluminum and the glass varnishes increase the focal depth of the painted surfaces. Here the pattern is a leitmotif, it “draws” the surfaces and the wall on which all paintings are hanged. So, as soon as the installation was ready, it was possible to notice how the painted plates and the wall could dialogue on the continuous space created by the perspective surfaces in an irregular but poetical way. That is why I inserted an empty space at the start, I needed to represent also emptiness before moving into the narration. This pattern made of holes, basic part of the wall drawing and connecting my paintings with the architecture, is a kind of matrix (dot-space, dot-space) or language for me. It helps me to anchor myself somewhere inside the infinite visual possibilities. I am sure that these surfaces exist just because I see them, even when they are seen from a diagonal point of view or even when they add dynamic and irregular elements to the frontal vision of the wall. The most extraordinary thing is that I (and the observer) can imagine and plan them at the same time.



LB: Does your choice of marking the territory and observing it as your first time, through the positioning of the sculpture and the related photographic “narration”, underline your need, both as an artist and citizen, to take a responsibility and be aware of the physical place from which we observe and receive all the information of the world?

MN: My need of references is the thin red line connecting all works taking part to this solo exhibition. The choice of placing at the entrance of the gallery my photographic work, showing the series of actions made in Genoa with this sculpture, goes into the same direction.



LB: This photographic work of yours is a sort of conceptual matryoshka. One photo contains a series of other photos, which in turn contain several urban landscapes containing a sculpture. The image suggests a relational dimension with the observer, thanks to the exposition of places right outside the location of the exhibition and not far away like exotic places. It represents a complete image to you, in the same way as the stories on the Trajan’s Column. Heroic actions are shared, but in time, not in the process. Today’s heroic actions might come out when you become aware of the details of places you walk through. Indeed, any time you will represent this action for an exhibition, you will re-make the artwork and connect it to the city hosting the event. Also this aspect underlines your works of art do not share the same needs of some artists at the end of the Nineties (Fischli & Weiss, Giuseppe Gabellone, Patric Tuttofuoco, Annika Larson). They reflected on the role and the stratification between the different media. So they tried to create short-circuits using the sculpture technique, which was activated, at times, only to be documented by photographic reproductions. Your necessity rather comes from the need to go beyond the times of social networks and the creation of consensus and demonstrations. You want to show the re-activation of space as social aggregation: the square, not virtual and not even real, is not a project for the future, but is not even a memory. 

MN: The core of my work is not only the idea of a nomad sculpture stealing images of the city to then survive only through a document: to place it, photograph it and take it away. My idea is to move the attention towards the time of perception felt by the observer, rather than merely contemplating the object. In my way, I assign more importance to the action of joining context, presence and memory.






Matteo Negri, Navigator 3, 2016, 110×110 cm, digital print on glossy paper epson





Matteo Negri, Piano Piano, ABC-ARTE Genova, Installation view 2016, 257x276x160 cm galvanized iron liquid chrome tempered glass and film





Matteo Negri, Piano Piano, ABC-ARTE Genova, Installation view 2016, 257x276x160 cm galvanized iron liquid chrome tempered glass and film





Matteo Negri, Piano Piano, ABC-ARTE Genova, Installation view 2016, 257x276x160 cm galvanized iron liquid chrome tempered glass and film





Matteo Negri, Piano Piano, ABC-ARTE Genova, Installation view 2016, Navigator video