Reverse chronology is the unusual strategy taken by this anthological exhibition of more than ninety works by Gianni Piacentino, curated by Germano Celant for the Fondazione Prada—an exhibition that accentuates and emphasizes the creative vitality of an artist who surprises and enchants at every turn.
As early as the mid-1960s, Piacentino’s work was already seen as an alternative to American Minimalism; in fact, he had rejected the reductionism of “primary structures” in favor of a more complex notion of the essential. Following a strongly personal bent, he utilizes technological material, experimenting with its spatial and chromatic potential. At first he translates objective spaces, such as his so-called portals and tables into distilled and clear presences—then, from 1969 on, begins to reframe their identities as agile “vehicles,” in his words. Thus in the exhibition we encounter evocative images of cars, motorcycles, and airplanes, which annul any familiarity or quotidian quality that these references might have, thanks to the artist’s imaginative interpretation. Nothing is ever reproduced or purely described, because he reinvents every form, every material, in his own unmistakable visions, in which we recognize an intentional wedding of clarity and ambiguity.
In their constructive perfection and their symbolic reference to speed, which is central to his way of life, Piacentino has created something we might call a high-tech renaissance, due to the potent classicism with which he rigorously and continually builds these figurations of what lies ahead—thought-generating devices, if you will, that for fifty years have continued to project us toward the future, faster than light.