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Jannis Kounellis

KOUNELLIS book presentation

by BRUNO CORA'

Edizioni Il Ponte Firenze

6 March 2007

Kounellis is the simple title chosen for the book dedicated to Jannis Kounellis. Accompanied by a critique by Bruno Corà and published by Edizioni “Il Ponte” Firenze, it gathers a large number of photographs by Manolis Baboussis dedicated to the exhibition contemporaneously underway at the Fondazione Pomodoro in Milan as well as an excursus on the salient aspects of the plastic language expressed by the artist in more than forty years of work, with images of his works set out according to topics, and unexpected recollections and references.
The book presentation was accompanied by remarks by Franca Falletti and Lucilla Saccà in conversation with the author Bruno Corà and the artist Jannis Kounellis.

The title of the text by Bruno Corà, Epica di un quintale di carbone e di una macchia, refers to the work created by Kounellis in his studio in 1967 when he tipped a hundred kilograms of coal inside a perimeter marked on the floor, and his present-day technique of the big ink stains. Like in the case of the black varnish poured on the floor in the Milan exhibition and then quickly enclosed in a circle of chairs, a rigid outline, like a drawn perimeter, whose aim was to create order in the chance fall of the material and to give it a “shape”.
The origin of the “stain” needs to be looked into with a philologist’s knowledge in order to be able to understand the function that it performs in the slow process of defining the shape and in the whole system of Kounellis’s work. It is evident that it has something to do with an “error”; an accidental event that “moves away from the right or the agreed norm”, in short something that can be considered a “mistake”, or even a “fault”. And the only fault that Kounellis may be stained with is having killed off the painting of his chosen fathers, from Boccioni to Fontana and Burri, and therefore having freed himself once and for all from the informel picture and above all from the spatiality of which the picture painted on the easel is the emblem.
Kounellis’s choice first of all to use “a hundred kilograms of coal” with his Senza titolo (1967) and today his ink stains is a radical one, not lacking in drama, doubt and regrets. However, it is made with the clarity of one who has to ensure himself the space crucial to formulating revolutionary statements in the artistic process, which can “grasp” and “put on view” the era’s new sensitivity and new spiritual and civil requirements.
The development within the processes of shape imprinted by Kounellis upon his work, combining the “tonne of coal” with the “stains”, covers the remarkable time span of nearly forty years, within which we can single out the different aspects and changes to that initial intuition that was to become one of the fundamental images of his work.

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