Luxembourg & Dayan is pleased to present Within a Common Horizon, an exhibition centered upon the juxtaposition of two iconic works: Pino Pascali’s Cannone Bella Ciao from 1965, and Jannis Kounellis’Untitled seascape painting of 1963. Taking the old adage that less-is-sometimes-more as its guiding principle, the exhibition asks the viewer to consider the roles of subjectivity, agency, and experience.Within a Common Horizon strategically examines the radically different approaches to art-making that emerged from a shared historical and political moment.
Cannone Bella Ciao is among the most radical and renowned of Pascale’s ersatz Armi (Weapons), a series that conflates Pascali’s own playful way of thinking with his childhood perceptions of the Second World War. Deriving its name from a well-known partisan song sung by the Italian anti-fascist resistance movement, Cannone Bella Ciao was conceived and prepared in Rome as the centerpiece of an exhibition at Sperone Gallery, Turin in 1966. This life-size cannon - fabricated from found materials painted grey – physically resembles contemporary state-of-the-art weaponry, though it deliberately negates scientific logic associated with military precision and functionality. Through its “fakeness” this anti-militaristic toy becomes simultaneously insignificant and imposing, highlighting the importance of looking at the intention behind the idea of an object, rather than simply at the object itself. Pascali stated: “When I was making the cannons I said: “What fun it is to put a cannon in a place for sculptors,” to be able to really put it there in that so sacred, false world.” Pascali’s reflection upon the escalating violence and conflicts worldwide, particularly in Vietnam, show the universal implications of his approach; despite being clearly non-functional, the disorientating effect of seeing a life-size cannon in a civilized gallery setting still has the ability to startle and provoke thought today as when first envisaged in the 1960s.
Friend and fellow artist Kounellis experienced the Second World War in his native Greece and escaped the ensuing civil war. Arriving in Rome in 1956, Kounellis went to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti, but soon became immersed in the emergent artistic activities that questioned the established institutions of government, work and culture through the art object. In response to the attendant new aesthetic concerns of the post-war world order, Kounellis sought to define a new visual language, where presence and absence, form and mass, shadow and light, signifier and signified all became tools strategically deployed in his communications. Untitled, in its schematic representation of the sea, forms part of Kounellis’s exploration of the semantics and visual syntax of art. Eduardo Cicelyn has described Kounellis’s work as “a language of art, which transcribes reality without representing it, presenting it in its essential form” (Eduardo Cicely in exh. cat., “Kounellis”, Prato, Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, 2001, p. 296). His documentation of fragments of time is no less apparent in Untitled, where the seascape serves as a bridge between the past and the future, in both a personal and a universal sense.
The exhibition reunites these two artists who were key proponents of the development Arte Povera in Italy. By focusing on two works, putting them on the same stage and allowing them to share a common horizon, we have the opportunity to consider the conceptual exchanges between two artists and identify the voices particular to each.