Emilio Isgrò

The removal of a thought a sort of mistakes journal


Autumn at Fondazione Giorgio Cini is dedicated to Emilio Isgrò’s erasures. As if by magic, until November 24, the rooms of the Napoleonic wing of the building turn into Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, or rather, into what is left of it after the artist’s intervention. Thanks to transverse and diagonal walls, the exhibition space can follow the types of an environmental book that constitutes the envelope in which works dating from the ‘60s to the present day are placed. It is fascinating that a survey exhibition of such a wide scope was put on in the very city where Isgrò’s erasures were born, in 1964, not to mention the four editions of the Venice Biennale in which the artist participated (1972, 1978, 1986, 1993). But what does the common gesture of erasing conceal? Everybody knows the symbolic meaning of erasures.


The exhibition space was arranged to follow the types of a book that is the envelope of the exhibition


Back in school, teachers taught us to erase mistakes with “a single line”, but what we actually did was covering them with thick scribbles that not only did cause pressure marks on lower papers, but also revealed how ashamed we were of our spelling mistakes. Erasures mean the forced removal of a thought, the will to omit something that we decide to conceal only when we have already written it, as it happens with personal journals or, in this case, mistakes journals. However, an erasure can also mean that an objective has been achieved, that a certain item has been added to the shopping cart, that there is one less thing to be done. Finally, to erase a word can mean to put an end to something, like when, for instance, we erase a name in order to forget it, but at the same time we embed it in our memory with the pressure of the pen on paper. In Agnetti’s words, this is like “a book that is forgotten by memory”. With a gesture that is as simple as it is culturally powerful – and which only a painter-poet could have devised – Emilio Isgrò laid the foundations for a new writing that is based on the grammar of what is hidden. This rich and detailed exhibition is curated by Germano Celant with the collaboration of Archivio Emilio Isgrò, the artist himself, Intesa Sanpaolo and Fondazione Cini.


Emilio Isgrò
Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Curated by
Germano Celant
Until 24/11

Cesare Orler

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