Magazine article Artforum International

Gianfranco Baruchello

Magazine article Artforum International

Gianfranco Baruchello

Article excerpt

DEICHTORHALLEN/SAMMLUNG FALCKENBERG

It all starts with ABC. Between _1959 and 1962, Gianfranco Baruchello painted Prinmo alfabeto (First Alphabet), covering the canvas with a set of pictorial icons of his own invention, hieroglyphs inspired by sources such as books and window casements. Together with several assemblages from the same period, including Quern che verrano A (Those Who Will Come A), 1959, the painting opened 'Certain Ideas," the comprehensive retrospective of Baruchello's oeuvre curated by Deich-torhallen's director, Dirk Luckow. The choice was an apt one, since these early works already feature two of the most salient characteristics of the oeuvre Baruchel to has built over the past fifty-five years: a sensitive ear for language and the use of unusual materials. As he branched out into virtually every major medium in the art of the past half century, from sculpture and painting to film and installation art, traces of texts. or found objects lifted from everyday life remained a steady presence in his work. Verifica incerta (Disperse Exclamatory Phase) (Uncertain Verification [Disperse Exclamatory Phasel), 1964-65, for example, is a cinematic montage constructed from movie clips, mostly from Hollywood productions, to create a fragmentary plot that directs the viewer's attention to the connections among seemingly incompatible scenes rather than to the progression of the narrative itself.

The shift of focus from the outward appearance of things to the affinities among them also informs Baruchello's paintings. At first blush, it seems that there isn't much to see in them: From a distance, their surfaces are simply whitish, washed-out monochromes. Looking more closely, one discovers structures_ composed of microscopically small symbols, figures, and words. Works such as Altopiano dell'incerto (High Plateau of Uncertainty), 1965, suddenly reveal themselves as maps of an undiscovered world, filled with information on politics, history, biology, and agriculture. …

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