Manuele Cerutti

Portrait, 2010

Oil on Linen

36 × 30 cm

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Manuele Cerutti’s Portrait straddles the gulf between convention and experimentation. It resembles a strange aggregate of old master portraits, pieces of unfinished, experimental impressionism, and semi-abstract works of modernism.

Like Rembrandt, Cerutti creates an intrinsic luminescence. The light which reflects off the thin greasy sheen covering the forehead and nose may be peripheral, but there is also a warm red glow from within, which animates the face and makes us feel the flush of the man depicted.

Like Degas, Cerutti is unafraid of revealing the thick ochre primer which serves to create the deep brownish hues of the painting’s more worked-up areas.

Like Francis Bacon, Cerutti cuts out a large, curved segment of the face, and reconfigures it in a new position. The rich oranges and browns that, we imagine, might have covered the exposed primer to ‘complete’ the right eye and cheek are, in this painting, strangely offset, brushed on at the extreme right-hand edge of the stretched linen.

It is, of course, the combination of all these elements which makes the portrait decidedly contemporary. Acting as part-painter part-curator, Manuele Cerutti has masterfully compounded the practises of his predecessors to form his own unique style.

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