One may see things in the world, but an understanding of their ‘thingliness’, as Heidegger observed, is quite something else. The ‘thingliness’ of things is their encompassed existence, and this constitutes both place and affect, something that goes far beyond their mere status of being an object in the world.
The painter Manuele Cerutti has produced in this exhibition a series of still life object paintings that pervade the idea of existent presence with a subtly affective and transposed sense of immanence. His ability to elevate the commonplace status of everyday objects is somewhat unique, and his choice and placement through juxtaposition is particularly evocative. It is Cerutti’s extraordinary ability in his paintings to elide the boundary between the indexical (as directive) and the symbolical (as representative situation) that makes them so aesthetically persuasive. In the current series of sepia and half-toned paintings, traditional garden implements (Heads of shovel, garden trowels, edge cutters) are brought into anomalous relationships with other objects. But unlike, as would be the case with surrealists, it is not for the purpose of the bringing together of distant realities, and neither is it for their configured formal values. Rather the objects take upon themselves immanent meanings, and it is the strangeness of their presence that suggest a metaphysical if not a spiritual sense of allusion.
Though small in scale the paintings have an intimate completeness. A spoon props against an upright fragment of wood, and a white loop of adhesive paper peels away to the right. Hence this image like so many of Cerutti’s paintings suggests an entailed universe of existent ‘thingliness’, they represent substances and properties and carry traits of association, they are highly sensory, and they are representations of form rather than the mere shape of an object.
In other words his depiction of commonplace (we might even say ‘banal’) objects is one that elevates their embodied existence. And since each viewer carries within themselves their inflected iconography of association, they are bound to infer related meanings to the chosen object as subject matter. A painting such as the loop encompassing a stone, suggests to the present reader of the image a slingshot redolent of the feat of David.
A pile of folded clothes with an uncertain image takes on the character of a secular icon (veronica – true icon), the shovels suggest interment through strange allusion or alternative hidden meaning.
The point made is that viewers will bring to each painted image their own personal associative interpretations. And it is this potential that gives the paintings their unique and open aesthetic status, since immanence is a characteristic aspect of the ‘within-ness’ of life. In a spiritual sense the word immanence by definition connotes the ‘within-ness’ that permeates the mundane and everyday. These paintings each in their different ways, and related to the objects depicted, are able to create an intimate sense of internality and presence.
To speak of presence in these paintings, however, is not only to refer to their sensory state of immanence alone but to evoke the delicate at times sfumare-like delicacy of their painted realisation. No matter the precariousness of the compositional contents the Cerutti paintings have an expressive gentleness. The upturned table leg with balanced object may also have its shadowing anamorphic intention, but in other respects is a painting that generates presence for itself. Heidegger said of thingly life (his dasein), it is being there involved in the world, ready-to-hand, and conscious of its self-awareness.
Manuele Cerutti (*1976, Italy) has participated in solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe and was awarded several grants, including the Illy Prize (Artissima/Turin, Present Futuro) in 2004. In 2011 the artist had a solo exhibition at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin and in 2012 his first solo exhibition with 401contemporary in Berlin. In January 2014 the GAM in Turin dedicated a solo show to him. His works are represented in private collections in Europe and America. In 2007 Cerutti co-founded “Progetto Diogene bivacco urbano”, a collective project which presents an international residency program in the city of Turin, a research centre on territory and an independent school for artists (Solid Void). - The artist lives and works in Turin (Italy).
PROVE DI CARISMA is Manuele Cerutti’s second solo exhibition at 401contemporary.