Manuele Cerutti

Istruttoria, 2010

Oil on Linen

80 × 60 cm

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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’.

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

November 2nd, 2017 until
December 29th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER