Al limite del visibile, solo show at LOOM Gallery, Milan,6 May – 6 June 2021
At the Limits of Visibility are Francesco De Prezzo’s painted canvases, painted with care and then either obliterated or covered with nearly transparent veils. Some of his subjects are entirely abstract, because the final layer of paint is dense and opaque. Others are fully spelled out in their details, having escapedthe final brushstroke. In both cases, De Prezzo (Lecce, 1994) has studied the subjects with an eagle eye, spending countless hours portraying the objects that surround him in his studio. Fabrics, tripods, panels, containers, tiles, hangers and other objects that are used to cover, support, contain or divide and that cast off their simplicity to enter a new dimension and acquire a new aura. What we find in these works is an idea of synthesis and transformation away from figurative painting through a process of layering and covering at the limit of the monochrome, questioning the possibility of fixed visual perception and challenging the role of the image as language.
In Rosalind Krauss’s The Optical Unconscious – a rereading of modernism in which the critic questions some of the idealist dogmas of traditional art history – one of the main themes is that of figure/ground in relation to issues that fuel debate on the concept of “representation”. In De Prezzo’s work, figure and ground switch places, the one going past the other: the image is supplanted and positions itself on a different level. It is the same for his installations, where multiple subject/objects physically enter a shadowy zone, modifying their utilitarian identity to become something else.
No figure, then, either; but a limit case of self-imbrication. The perceptual terms are rejected thus, and marked by this rejection as not-figure and not-ground. But in being canceled they are also preserved. And the logic of that preservation is made transparent by the graph. The graph’s circumference holds all its terms in mutual opposition: figure versus ground; ground versus not-ground; not-ground versus not-figure; not-figure versus figure. Its diagonal axes yield, however, to mirror relations, or rather to mirror restatements (the structuralists’ inverse-of-the-opposite, their double negatives), with figure in this case being the “same” as not-ground.
Rosalind Krauss, The Optical Unconscious, 1993