In Manuele Cerutti’s oeuvre, while the still lives show the object centre stage, the human figure either absent or at best, merely relegated to a prop (as in Pensiero di Orfeo), here we contemplate a man, lone in a room, attending to what resembles an easel painting. He is about to unravel the piece, install it perhaps, but that is unclear. What is essential here is, paradoxically, his absent other, his shadow which almost twice his size, looms over the empty room.
We are eye witnesses, yet he is unperturbed, and thus our role shifts from observer to intruders, entering this private space to which we have no key. The clues are effectively sparse for any narrative: it is up to our imagination to fill in the blanks. Cerutti’s elliptic manner of pictorial storytelling offers us a breath of fresh air, enables the panting to breathe and by the same token gives us free rein to observe astutely, and interpret freely what we see. No clutter, no unnecessary detail within the picture plane. It is a zen-like space of absolute calm, a portrait distilled to its intrinsic essence. Cerutti depicts the man’s ‘charismatic aura’ in this portrait – appropriately displayed beside the chimney still life in the exhibition Through the Looking Glass – Cerutti’s pursuit of defining the ‘subjectivity of objects’.