Massimo Bartolini: Atlante Occidentale, Daniele Del Giudice, Einaudi Tascabili, 1998, p. 78
Mondays by appointment
Titled Atlante Occidentale, Daniele Del Giudice, Einaudi Tascabili, 1998, pag.78, the exhibition deliberately starts with the typical formula of margin notes, as an approach to comparing things, and as a reference to some other “place”. This reference is in itself a container, because a “Western Atlas” in the show already exists – the works that make up the exhibition feature symbols and signs that are typically Western, albeit cast into embarrassment by a presence/absence that contradicts their form and amplifies their meaning.
The element of presence/absence, spanning the physical and the metaphorical, is the Bodhisattva, a Buddhist figure who renounces divinity in order to stay on and teach men the path that leads towards divinity; the very path that he is the first to renounce. As Bartolini writes, a condition “that seems a contradiction more than sacrifice; a voluntary gesture of incompleteness, a lack which is ‘necessary’ to establish a distance from total – and therefore mute – participation.”
The Bodhisattva is a Master, a wandering master who shares a number of characteristics with another figure: the stylite. Through a form of rigid physical immobility, the stylite becomes an architectural feature. Bartolini alludes to a confrontation between two teachings: one associated with the invisible, something to be assumed with the experience of faith, the other reached through the exercise of logic and method. This allusion becomes a confrontation, in which the former can, on occasion, disappear in the latter.
Returning to the title of the exhibition and following its coordinates, we arrive at the passage in question from Daniele Del Giudice’s book: “Having no need to tell is the only thing that fractures the felicity of seeing beyond form.” Bartolini himself explains: “The Bodhisattva stops at form because his function is to tell others what, from close up, may be intuited beyond form. I admit to a perilous paraphrase between ‘beyond form’ and ‘enlightenment’; I believe that these two states share many characteristics in the practice necessary to achieve them: harmony, completeness and infinitude.”
Massimo Bartolini is one of the most recognized artists of his generation. His works have been exhibited at a number of solo exhibitions, including Four Organs, Fondazione Merz, Turin (2017), Museo Marino Marini, Florence (2015), It’s Mine! Paesaggio e appropriazione, MART, Rovereto (2014), Studio Matters, Fuitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and SMAK, Gent (2013), HUM, MARCO, Vigo and Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome (2012), Il cuore in mano, Center of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu, Torun, Poland; Dialoghi Con La Città, curated by Laura Cherubini, MAXXI, Roma (2008); Massimo Bartolini: Concert Room with Voice”, D’Amelio Terras, New York (2008); Triple Loop, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2007) Massimo Bartolini, Museu Serralves, Oporto (2007).
His works have also been exhibited at many group shows and international art events, including Viceversa – Padiglione Italiano at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), Documenta XII (2012), T.R.A.C.K.S., SMAK Gent (2012), Fare Mondi//Making Worlds, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Una Stanza tutta per sé, Castello di Rivoli (2008); Mediterranée: Où? Scenes du Sud: Espagne, Italie, Portugal, Carrè d’Art – Musée d’Art Contemporain de Nimes, Nimes, France (2007); Public Art Project, Art 37 Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2006); Ecstasy: In and About Altered States, The Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, U.S.A. (2005). Bartolini has also shown at the Sao Paulo Biennial (2004) and at dAPERTutto, the Venice Biennale in 1999, curated by Harald Szeemann.