Alighiero Boetti, Turin 1940 - 1994 Rome
Attract Attention (Attirare l'Attenzione), 1988
Galleria La Margherita, Roma,
Galerie Andrea Caratsch, St. Moritz.
ExhibitionsSt. Moritz, Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Alighiero e Boetti. Tutto, 8 May–27 July 2012.
The conceptual artist Alighiero Boetti was one of the most influential leading figures of postwar Italian art. Born in Turin in 1940, he was a founding member of the Arte povera movement. In the early 1970s, he separated from the group and moved to Rome, where he began to sign his work as ‘Alighiero e Boetti’, as though he were two artists in one. Boetti undertook a series of projects from 1971 to 1994 where he worked together with Afghan embroiderers to create his iconic and compelling tapestries. Boetti first worked in Kabul, and then, following the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, in the refugee camps of Pakistan. A cross-cultural dialogue between the West and East underpins much of Boetti’s work and for this reason he often integrated letters, words and characters of different cultural strands into his embroidered writing pictures.
ATTIRARE L’ATTENZIONE (Attract Attention) is one of his Arazzi Piccoli; small, embroidered squares with colourful grids of letters that spell out phrases. Whenever he came across an expression, whether a line from poetry, a proverb, or an aphorism, Boetti claimed to know instinctively whether the number of letters allowed it to be set in a square. His interest in this configuration was rooted in the mathematical laws of the magic square deriving from the Arabic tradition, in which the sum of the rows, columns, and diagonals remains constant. In the present work, a grid of five-by-five letters breaks this straightforward phrase into a logical ordering system.
Given its bright contrasting colours, this work certainly attracts the attention of the viewer, but the arrangement is such that the message is not immediately clear or legible. In his tapestries, Boetti breaks with convention and arranges the letters from top to bottom, rather than left to right. The letters are removed from their written context and impose a chaos which challenges the viewer to adopt new ways of reading; through colour and texture, each letter is aestheticised and transformed into an autonomous form.
Since the Arazzi are hand-embroidered, each one is distinctive; not only in terms of the colours employed, but also in their slightly differing shapes and sizes.
‘I’ve produced a hundred examples of each of these pieces. But each one is different from the others because of its colours and differences in the style of embroiderer. They are neither originals nor multiples: they belong to a new category and to a market that is quite different to that for my other works. Someone once told me I had created the firstpopular conceptual art' —Alighiero Boetti.
In this particularly vivid tapestry, red is a predominant colour. This colour arrangement, paired with the symmetrical spacing of the letters, creates a particularly arresting configuration. Ultimately, in his tapestries, each letter is individualised: by deconstructing language in this manner, Boetti exposes the artificiality of arranging signs and symbols into text.
Please note that the price and availability of the above work are subject to change without prior notice. Where applicable ARR will be added.