A common practice in the 1970s was to launch slogans and didactic statements, often tautological in their attempt to be “objective”, so much so that the writings of the artists of this period are, in actual fact, purposely ascetic, almost emotionally barren descriptions of their physical action in dealing with painting. “I do not represent anything I paint” is certainly a slogan, but it is also extremely efficient because it permits a delimitation of its own field of inquiry, of its own territory, without being too didactic. What is more it conveys, in the “speed” of its expression, represented by the lack of space between the words, the expressive urgency that, after all, also sentimentally characterises the action of the artists.
And so these four artists – who are represented here by works from those years, works which have lost nothing of their freshness but which, rather, are now loaded with a kind of nostalgia that we reserve for the things we would like to have with us always – began to mark out the distance between what happened before them, even in an area formally so similar to the abstraction of the 1960s, just with this show and that well–chosen title.
That abstraction represented nothing was a lesson that had hardly, and badly, been digested, but it was that “I paint” that paradoxically inaugurated the new season of painting! That act of painting, in fact, seems innate to painting, even if some had set out to demonstrate how you could do painting without actually painting – Piero Manzoni, for instance, and then even some exponents of Analytical Painting itself –, but that “I paint” places the accent on the painterly process, an antagonist to representation, and even places abstraction on a secondary plane with respect to an awareness of painting, of the determined action of “being there”, as a person even before being an artist. In other words, painting is, of course, the result of painting, it is a work of art, but even this is subordinate to something more important, and that is an awareness of doing what you are doing, in a psychological and individual context, with respect to your role and to society. The result of this is an awareness of “being in the world” thanks to painting, an undertaking that repays those who do it with this mental attitude with the role of being fully a human being. (Marco Menguzzo, iononrappresentonullaiodipingo 1973, 2015)