Paolo Scheggi at the Ronchini Gallery
Teaming up with the Galleria d’Arte Niccoli, Mayfair’s Ronchini Gallery presents Paolo Scheggi: Selected Works from European Collections, the first solo UK exhibition of works by the artist in over 40 years. A comprehensive study of Scheggi’s short but prolific career, the exhibition displays a range of his signature monochromatic works – a series of two or three overlapping canvases into which are carved layers of womb-like openings.
A contemporary of and heavily influenced by Lucio Fontana, Scheggi has become known as a pioneer of object painting, or as Gillo Dorfles argued in his 1966 essay Pittura-oggetto, “painting as object”. However, what makes his work so different from Fontana’s, and indeed notable in general, is the fact that each cavernous mark Scheggi makes is deliberate, whereas Fontana’s slashes and holes are done at random.
Transforming the canvas into a sculpted object, or rather emancipating the canvas from the realm of painting and subsequently appropriating it for more sculptural or even architectural purposes, Scheggi asks us to redefine how we classify an artwork. According to Renaissance artists, paintings were intended to be windows onto another world; however, by cutting into the canvas surface Scheggi exposes the artifice of painting as a whole.
Visually engaging, each work demands an active viewer, one that will be lured in by the work’s textured layers. While the brightly coloured works such as Per Una Situazione, 1962 and Intersupericie Curve, 1964 are bold and exciting, it is the purity and simplicity of his studies in white, such as Zone Riflesse, 1963 and Per Una Situazione, 1963, that are most striking.
Where the exhibition falls down slightly is the part of official gallery “blurb” that is written on the floor, whether a gimmick or not, added nothing to the overall presentation. Otherwise, an interesting exhibition – particularly the glass table of Scheggi ephemera and essay by Germano Celant – worth seeing if you’re a fan of Scheggi, and you happen to be in the area.
Paolo Scheggi: Selected Works from European Collections is at the Ronchini Gallery until 8th February 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.