Boetti’s graphic work takes the viewer to the heart of the artist’s obsession with creating codes, games and rules. For him, art was a game for everyone to play and the role of the artist was to set the rules. The first Post-War Italian artist to be given a solo show at Tate Modern, London (‘Game Plan’ in 2012, which travelled to MoMA New York), Boetti’s playful conceptualism, humour and wordplay resonates with London audiences.
Paper is the constant thread that ties much of Boetti’s work together, from his sketches to his museum-quality pieces. ‘Alighiero Boetti: Decoding His Universe’, at Tornabuoni Art London, presents over 30 works on paper by the artist that span his entire career and range in scale from origami airplanes to monumental murals. These works are rarely seen in such quantity and depth, so this show provides a unique opportunity to delve into the mind of the artist whose work is so intensely cerebral.
The show will include some of his first conceptual works, such as the Bollini (Stickers) series from the late 1960s. After his daughter was born in 1972, Boetti began inventing numerical and word-based games to play with her, that were eventually developed into fully-fledged series of now iconic works. These include the Ricami works, the letter-embroideries which, when read from top to bottom and left to right, reveal poetic and sometimes playful phrases and the Biro works, which invite the reader to match commas with letters to decipher hidden messages in a vast sea of ink drawn from ball point pens. The monumental biro piece Mettere al mondo il mondo (Bringing the World to the the World) from 1975, 160 x 347 cm, will be on view as a prime example of this practice.