Manuele Cerutti

Algoritmo, 7 (1936), 2019

Oil on Linen

100 × 75 cm

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Depictions of mountains and the feelings of sublime they inspire have captured the art historical imagination since the German Romantic tradition and Caspar David Friedrich’s awe-inspiring landscapes. These towering giants are not a usual subject matter for Manuele Cerutti however, who usually focuses his attention on small objects and forgotten tools. The latest series of paintings by Cerutti takes as its point of departure the traditional way of depicting a bolt of lightning in contemporary art: the single zig-zag line, although inaccurate to describe the natural phenomenon of lighting, reveals itself as a metaphor for humans’ negotiation with nature. It is the shape of a crack sneaking through a tiled floor, the course set by a boat sailing into the wind, the path that men have to take to conquer the mountain’s peak. In Algoritmo, 7 (1936), Cerutti depicts a map representing the famous path leading up to the summit of Mount Eiger (Switzerland) – widely considered one of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world. To negotiate its imposing wall and mineral formations, it is necessary to ascend following a zig-zag line, not dissimilar to traditional depictions of lighting bolts. 

The ‘algorithm’ behind this pattern, it is suggested by sociologist Gian Antonio Gilli, might not be as clean-cut and apparent as the Fibonacci sequence, which translates geometrically and in nature into the golden ratio. But still, it is so ubiquitous in the design of the universe that, while the language of mathematics might not be able to describe it, artists and poets at least should attempt to.

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