Lucio Fontana at Tornabuoni Art London

Copyright: Tornabouni Art London

Copyright: Tornabouni Art London

Touranbouni Art London’s inaugural exhibition presents a retrospective of the work of Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana. As well as the classic slashed canvases that have become emblematic of the artist, the exhibition also features less instantly recognisable experiments from across his career.

The first room features a series of his Buchi canvases and an extradorindary Fine di dio which all feature small round incisions, conveniently complimented by the lights peppered irregularly across the ceiling of the new gallery space. As with all his work, I hesitate as to whether to call them paintings because the importance of Fontana’s work lies in his ability to subvert genre. Fontana’s perforations are marks of defiance, at times it even looks like he has aimed a machine gun at a canvas. The rupture with the past that they represent is indeed a violent one. Fontana shows us that art does not neatly fall into the classifications of painting and sculpture, but rather that it transcends categorisation. Fontana’s cuts and holes are attempts to resist the confines of dimension.

Copyright: Tornabouni Art London

Copyright: Tornabouni Art London

Yet despite this violent, truly physical split from the past that each canvas represents, the final work is one of serenity. There is an absolute purity to Fontana’s concetti spaziali. The precise elegance of the vertical incisions is extremely beautiful, but not meek. The stroke of the knife somehow seems to deepen the colour of each canvas: the red becomes blood red under the knife, even the slashed white canvases have a blazing intensity.

It is interesting to see the enormous breadth of Fontana’s materials. Not content to subvert simply the canvas, art history’s most noble material, Fontana also experimented with copper, glass and ceramic amongst others. One canvas from his Buchi series is made from black velvet, a curiously warm, luxurious material that gives the work a dark richness.

It is a curious effect to see all the works so close together and one that minorly detracts from their power. For me, a single Concetto Spaziale against a blank wall remains the most distilled and pertinent expression of the artist.

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