Manuele Cerutti

Algoritmo, 5, 2019

Oil on Linen

24 × 30 cm

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Manuele Cerutti’s paintings are often concerned with the world of inanimate objects. In his newest series of works he shifts his focus on a different category: the artist looks at the traditional mode of representing a bolt of lightning, a single zigzag line ripping through the clouds. Although this is not the accurate way of representing lightning – which thanks to photography we now know to be made up of several branching segments – Cerutti observes how this line type is often encountered in other natural phenomena and it still is the most used mode of representation for lightning bolts. Here, his reference is in fact art historical: he reproduces a historical votive icon representing a man stricken by a bolt of lightning that thunders through the clouds, crackles ablaze through the roof, and reaches him in his bed. In this case, intervention from the Virgin Mary most probably mitigated the misfortune, and she is thus given thanks through this ex-voto icon.

But lightning is most often seen as an admonishment or punishment from God: “Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth.” (2 Samuel 22:13); “He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.” (Job 36:32); “The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.” (Psalm 29:7); “His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.” (Psalm 97:4). Indeed, lightning, since prehistoric times, since the gods of Ancient Greece, since Christianity, has been associated with the voice and power of God: a punishment sent to those men undeserving of his forgiveness. Like a primeval golden ratio, the fractured line of the bolt underlies our fear and reverence for the divine.

the artist

Manuele Cerutti (b. 1976, Italy) is an Italian painter graduated from the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti, Turin. His works have 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 2021 he was awarded the prestigious Rome Fellowship by the American Academy in Rome, where he completed in a yearlong residency. In 2022 his works were shown along with the other artists-in-residence of the foreign academies in Rome at the exhibition Spazi Aperti at the Romanian Academy. Other recent exhibitions include the online Artuner exhibition, "STUDIOSCAPES: 2021", an Artuner solo show in 2018 titled "Standing, Waiting" in Brussels, and the Artuner group show "Lost and found in paradis" in Paris in 2019. 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 of balance and precariousness. The artist adopts clean lines and a thin layer technique, in order to create a dialectal relationship between different moments in 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 with new unstable relationships in 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.

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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

October 12th, 2019 until
October 30th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER