Contamination. In art: ‘Fusion of elements of different origins in the composition of a work of art.’
We are part of a ‘fluid’ generation and we contest absolute categories.
Contamination does not mean an assault on purity; contamination is rather a contribution that generates enrichment. Between the different artistic fields we observe a continuous mutual influence: music/visual arts/fashion/performance. Their recurrent interrelation brings to an artistic contamination that creates new languages .
Visual art, for its part, stopped being absolute a long time ago. Since painting was no longer representation of the Real – and no longer an absolute truth – the work of art has been contaminated by the personality of the artist. Contaminated by his personal story, his social background, the culture in which he grew up, his daily experiences and his interests. The value added by the artist is to make a personal language a universal experience.
As a formal result, the artwork is contaminated by languages of different realities, importing new aesthetics into what is consensually recognized as ‘dominant aesthetic culture’.
In the figurative field, Fabian Treiber, for example, takes as reference in composition an apparently classical theme: interior perspectives, whose ‘wrong’ proportions recall Giottesque medieval perspectives. But the classical theme is contaminated by his own language: compositions are not representations of real spaces and are not intended to have a narrative character. On the contrary, he questions the relationship between painting and reality, by placing recognizable objects of a bourgeois everyday life but abstracting them from their absolute meaning. He creates a visual puzzle where each image corresponds to a heritage of memories/emotions/experiences deposited in the artist’s mind and then projected in that one of the viewer. The atmosphere of his paintings alludes in fact to a metaphysical reality, beyond reality and suspended in time. Besides that, Fabian has been able also to develop a personal aesthetic language that can coherently express this intellectual research. A language that manages to be simultaneously (and paradoxically) abstract and figurative. All that is figurative begins with a rudimentary and abstract geometric form, with no premeditated intention. At the beginning there is only a background of very liquid color that impregnates the canvas with a technique similar to watercolor, layering many layers. And, while still wet, here it comes the artist’s decision to concretize the abstract form into an image: with an airbrush he paints faded lines, which can suddenly transform a rectangle into a table rather than a sofa. Contamination is then equally formal and intellectual.
Similarly, Jordan Kerwick’s compositions start from the model of Still Life typology, representating everyday objects such as books, vases, tables or carpets. Contaminated, however, by an extremely contemporary language that takes up concepts of masculinity, virility and power – typical of a competitive and successful society – declined in symbolic and allusive images of snakes, tigers or provocative women.
In Ed Broner’s most recent works, on the other hand, the contamination of the graffiti world emerges. Ed has been a part for a long time of the French and Berlin graffiti’s scene and he ‘imports’ its language in an unexpected way in his paintings, far from the ‘street’ aesthetic we would expect. Indeed, Broner’s latest series also deals with a traditional theme: naturalistic landscapes. But the language is that of psychedelic colors and nature is personified as if in a hallucinogenic journey. The aesthetics of bright colors and naive graffiti figures lend themselves to reinterpreting this classical theme, suggesting a new empathy with the landscape that is not only a background but a living reality of which we are part of.
A totally different approach to that of Cosimo Casoni, a young artist from Grosseto who reproduces with manneristic dedication the Maremma landscapes of his origins, with warm earthy colors and chiaroscuro shadows typical of the Florentine Macchiaioli. Despite this premise, Cosimo is anything but a traditional artist, and in parallel to this nostalgic reference to his lands, he is also an urban individual and, above all, a skater. It is precisely this passion, this daily reality as a skater, that has allowed him to develop a particular abstract language, using the skateboard (dynamically or manually) as a pictorial tool. The result is a performative gestural painting, an abstract language made of tar traces on canvas. A language of signs to decode, archeology of a collective experience of skaters coordinated by the artist, like a choreographer. So here the life experience of the artist contaminates his art and his language, both in the abstract formal expression and in the nostalgic figurative one. But the true act of rebellion and contamination is Cosimo’s latest work and part of this exhibition: a work in which abstract and figurative coexist in the same canvas, creating a hybrid work and a ‘fluidity’ of genre that does not weaken either the one or the other composition. On the contrary, they are the maximum synthesis of the artist’s inner complexity and the expression of a harmonious dialogue of coexistence.
The abstract language is also that of Martina Merlini, who brings the world of graphic into her works. Her background as graphic designer allows her to exercise an obsessive control over forms, geometrically studied on the computer. But the technique of alternating black and white traces, for which she uses enamels on wax, represents that part of the process over which she has no control since the wax is transparent and irregularly applied. Once again, an example of contamination between formal and abstract or, symbolically, between rational and irrational.