Enrico David: Repertorio Ornamentale
Michele D'Aurizio
June 2011

The Italian-born, London-based artist Enrico David is a big fan of ornamentation. For David, ornaments play an important role in everyday life. While they might not emerge from gestalt-based research (i.e., the search for forms larger than their constituent parts), ornaments do play an essential performative task in David's work, that of giving rise to poetic images. The aim of radical 1970s Italian design was to fashion objects with poetic life, objects whose semantic meaning would be determined by their user'hence the cheeky omnipresence of decorative patterns. For his show at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice'the artist's first solo presentation in Italy'David explores the ornamental elements of a domestic environment, like paintings, carpets, tapestry, and furniture. The exhibition, which runs until September 25, is the result of a one-year residency program at Stiftung Laurenz-Haus, Basel, the fruits of which David displayed in a solo show at the Berlin gallery VeneKlasen/Werner last winter. For the Berlin exhibition, David created a bestiary of forms resembling the human body'works that draw on the visual vocabulary of Art Deco and Vienna Workshop, but also echo the solemnity of Joseph Beuys and a fascination with the grotesque of Viennese Actionism. At the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, David is showing paintings and sculptures where language has been articulated into forms; they are surreal 'conversation pieces,'both in depicting the uncanny within domestic landscape and in being, in a more literal sense, props for conversations. Rhetoric has always been pursued by the artist, whose aim it is to test the linguistic capacity of art. David has said, 'I see the potential of the creative process as a representation of a new language to be simultaneously constructed and discovered, on the basis of pre-existing aesthetic and cultural templates.'In the end, an 'ornamental inventory'is further vocabulary for exchange.