Gianfranco Zappettini - Painting as a tool of deeper knowledge

Gianfranco Zappettini - Painting as a tool of deeper knowledge

18 March - 31 December 2021

“Only through an analytic investigation that deals with the problem of painting as painting, i.e. the material, the way of handling it, we reconstruct the new language.” 
- Gianfranco Zappettini
Primo Marella Gallery is pleased to present a focus on Gianfranco Zappettini (b. Genoa,1939). In 1962 he held his first solo exhibition in his hometown and in the same year he met the German architect Konrad Wachsmann, thanks to whom he learned the formal precision, the importance of tradition and the attention to innovation. His early works reflect the attempt to give order to the surface, leaving space for the artist to maneuver without allowing preconceived planning to overcome his work. 
In over 40 years of artistic activity, Zappettini has helped to re-establish the pictorial discipline and to give a new and high reading of the work process that orbits around analytical abstraction. Through his works he explores the ancestral meaning of pictorial praxis. he analyzes the nature of the discipline in itself and of the elements that the artist has at his disposal. For Zappettini, the pictorial surface in particular, turns to be what it was originally. That is an "opaque" space, which does not reflect other worlds - exterior or interior - and refers to nothing but itself and its intrinsic essence. 
In Gianfranco Zappettini’s works orthogonal or diagonal weaves and lines are concealed through an investigation in which experimentation takes place on the edge of perception. His surfaces remain enclosed in the canvas borders, growing in the analitical seduction of a static movement between classical and innovation, in a visual and tactile noise.
The symbol of the circle is the one that best exemplifies the current moment of Gianfranco Zappettini's journey. His doing, seen in a decades-long perspective, resembles a spiral, a turn around the same axis - that of painting as a tool for understanding the world and oneself - which promptly returns to positions already visited, but returns to a higher level.
[… ] The French Nabis painter Maurice Denis said: “a picture is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order.” The “Superimposed Canvasses” paraphrase this definition, highlighting the “essentially”: a painting is a field of action (a square traced in pencil) filled with color (the neutral gray of the graphite) in the most repetitive and anonymous way possible. Another field of action is superimposed on this one, filled half way, and then another one-third filled, up to the last, on which only the field is delimited, ready to be the first field of the following work – ad infinitum. [… ]
[… ] The “Whites,” which historically precede the “Superimposed Canvasses,” [… ] They assume the “Superimposed Canvasses” because even in this series the work can be comprehended only by grasping the layers: it begins with a black canvas that – Zappettini today would call “alchemically” – must become white after a number of predetermined hands (layers) of painting. But the predetermined always contrasts with the practice, the painter’s mind clashes with his hands, so the work is finished before the last layer is completely added. Only traces of “white light” remain (as the titles of many works of this series note) on squares, rectangles, or lines.
It is an achieved light, that manifests and is there on the canvas, fixed in white, clear, and yet it does not light up the surrounding world: it is the reflective opposite of the “black light” of the black light, unpainted, indefinable, not totally perceptible, enigmatic, hidden, yet it indirectly lights all surrounding surfaces.
In the middle of the two series are other variations of “The Weft and the Warp,” whose strings of fabrics cross the surface and reference the Ligurian macramé: wefts not yet fabrics, or which will never become them, left suspended like other threads of Zappettini, or of others. [… ]."
- Alberto Rigoni, "The light first", 2018
For more information on the artist, please click here!

Don't forget to visit Gianfranco Zappettini's solo show, "La luce prima", a thrilling project expressly conceived in 2018 by the artist for the gallery venue, click here!