EXPROPRIATING AND GIVING
by Gabriele Perretta
What is it that comes to mind when we see some drawings conserved under a bubble of plexiglas, and then disorderly laid out in the space of a gallery? The idea of the sign, the de-sign during this century has made many inroads: it has been used in all manners and versions. So maybe now we can say that it is not the use of the sign itself that has a particular importance, but the arrangement the artist gives to it [...] Contemporary art has the characteristics to pursue originality when it resituates, rearranges, and reanalyzes. Therefore, it is not only the sign that we use which is important, but how and way we use it. It is not indispensable to define the uniqueness of the sign we use, but to release its real significance. After all we are not victims of mannerisms but are under the spell of a more complex event that continually asks us what we have to do, and how we have to do it. Contemporary art expresses its force thanks to a continuous manifestation of its roles, ways, constructions, and its expressive possibilities. Sometimes it needs not to express itself (for the sake of being expressed) and other times it needs to exceed its expressive forms in order to set itself to zero, cool it down, and finally to overcome it. We are constantly inside and outside the sense, and we are constantly inside and outside the urinal of Duchamp [...]
The aim is to bring inside ones own sign the memory of a painting style which can no longer be done and that moves on the threshold of its impossibility. But often, starting from this impossibility we reach other drifts and other exasperations. Antonello Matarazzo acts in this manner when he borrows from the sign of illustration and political satire to redesign faces and characters laid out in the emptiness of a page and compressed under the ovality of plexiglas, reminding us of the actual design of the television. That' s why the drawing inside a package now appears to be vacuum-packed and is held back by a high possibility of becoming serial. All the images that Antonello Matarazzo builds and boxes in small dimensions remind us of the evolution of a sign, a sign that is leading towards a comic-strip or mass media graphical style. The artist believes the time has come to give the sign a significance that is outside of the painting itself. This is exactly what art today can do intelligently. The sense of the works of many artists like Matarazzo is in exactly this direction: to define something to be represented and then refer to another, to choose to witness one and instead produce another thing entirely, something which is constantly outside itself [...]
Arranged on a multiple conceptual scheme, this artist's work can be read in very diverse ways. His performance is the ironic analysis of a kind of design, being at the same time an expression of modernity and a memory of a metamorphosis worked upon "images" that will transgress the originality of its sense. Despite the fact that these images are preserved in a tabernacle, the only idea of religiousness they evoke is that of their repetition. Matarazzo's image is in a constant state of allegory, it is almost always a form of language, a language that is very well disposed towards the charming fascinations of political satire. Following this allegorical flux, we can practically avoid entering into an iconography that reveals the essence of its authenticity. It is here that the artist finds his own identity, subtracting it from that of "the sign". His starting position is now that of someone who observes (as in Benjamin between the flaneur and the detective) an agitated and external world. With a tracing paper operation, this detective spirit embosses figures and typical expressions that become a refined filter as to penetrate the sphere of fragments that make up a rather large mosaic of the population. Like this the sign becomes an opportunity, a pretext, that is to say an instrumental reason and a crutch; something that is before and beyond itself and that constitutes its own reference point.
The particularity of Matarazzo's work is the suspension of the image inside the simulated object. The equilibrium between different moments reveals itself as a distraction and as a bewitching and different transmutation. In this absurd and translucent universe – where everything is similar but not in the same way as photography – the transparencies of the imaginary become evident like poetic perceptions and get stuck into a primary immobility lying still as a brick. The subject of these works, is expropriated and reduced, unnerved by his own image, re-dimensioned to the form of a sphinx, and isolated into space like a synthesis by Giacometti.
(extraction of a text published in the catalogue Antonello Matarazzo, Edizioni d'arte Parente, Benevento 1997)