Manuele Cerutti

Affermazioni VII, 2015

Oil on Linen

60 × 40 cm

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Manuele Cerutti describes his practice as a ritual, in which items are transfigured from the realm of the mundane into the esteemed medium of oil painting. Despite their focus upon inanimate subject matter, his paintings are more aptly classified as portraiture than still life. For Cerutti, common objects contain innate life and energy, and are worthy of individual attention. Through painting, he aims to capture these charged qualities, compelling viewers to look upon ordinary objects with renewed consideration. By situating these items in precise physical arrangements, Cerutti is able to generate focus towards the relationships between items, their materials, and their implications.

Tools are particularly defined in terms of their usefulness, intending to be employed by humans to assist with certain tasks. In Affermazioni VII, a hammer lays atop a worked strip of metal, presumably resting between the workings of an unknown human actor. These objects imply effort and labor, but Cerutti presents them in a manner that possesses compositional and aesthetic value. The hammers’ handle and the vertical bend of the metal form strong lines that organise the composition’s focus. Cerutti’s immaculate sfumato imparts textural interest along the tool’s wooden handle, and the luminescent metal slightly gnarled by an unknown actor. In doing so, Cerutti showcases the materiality innate to these items, and presents them for aesthetic consideration independent of utilitarian value.

the artist

Manuele Cerutti (b. 1976) is an Italian painter graduated from the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti, Turin. His works has featured in numerous institutional exhibitions, including at the Wilhelm Hack Museum and Stadtmuseum Oldenburg in Germany, the Italian Cultural Institute in London and the GAM in Torino. In 2004 he was awarded the Illy Present Future prize. He currently lives and works in Turin. Manuele Cerutti's paintings are located at the intersection between the history of art, and the artist’s will of rediscovering the object’s essence, taking its pictorial representation as a springboard for further reflection. Stones, bones and scraps of metal, collected by the artist over the years, rest dormant in his studio, until the moment they turn from inert shapes into works of art on his canvases. Taken out of their original context, these ‘actors’ sit for the artist in compositions that are always on the border between balance and precariousness. The artist adopts clean lines and a thin layer technique, in order to create a dialectic relationship between different moments of his narrative. He considers the error, the pentimento as integral to the accomplishment of an artwork. His paintings call to mind stratigraphy; where amongst different layers it is possible to discern evanescent presences in his paintings. Often, such presences are human subjects portrayed in the act of supporting, or contemplating the object – the real focus towards which the whole composition points. In Cerutti’s oeuvre, even car mirrors are divested of all conventional attributes determined by their function, in order to experiment new unstable relationships with space. In the context of his works, roles are subverted: the human being does not emerge as a protagonist anymore, it is rather the object that reclaims its status as a peer to Man. The artist leads the viewer to modify their perception towards daily life elements, which too often pass unnoticed. Although Manuele Cerutti's structures might seem comparable to the tradition of still-life painting, the difference between them is radical: the artist confers a subjectivity to forms that are traditionally inert, that are considered mere ob-jecta. Such subjectivity turns them into protagonists which should be interpreted on the same level as any other social actor.

Cerutti’s oil paintings depict objects in a way that is more reminiscent of portraiture than still life. Humble, inconspicuous objects that belong to the artist, which were forgotten and then repurposed as a means for exploring a more universal set of values, become the sitters for these unlikely portraits.

Manuele Cerutti
on Artuner

Part of the

May 3rd, 2018 until
May 31st, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER