Giulio Paolini

Trionfo della rappresentazione (Triumph der Repräsentation), 1984
Lithographie und Collage
Photo: Michael Wagener

Since the Renaissance, the perception of occidental art has been defined by the schematics of central perspective. Our vision has been conditioned since then to regard the image as a window onto a pictorial world that ought to complement our real world. Paolini shows us how this convention continues to determine our perception of art today. The works of the series Trionfo della rappresentazione are programmatic. Liveried valets – as figures whose personality has been removed – proffer art to us. Panel pictures are presented as if at an auctioneer’s. As universal representatives, since they are impersonal, the servants show us parts of the absent artist’s oeuvre. Two of them stand on the base line of a square pictorial field, holding a three-dimensional box drawn according to central perspective, in which two other servants reproduced on a smaller scale hold up a photographic fragment of a sunset. More torn fragments of the landscape photo are strewn over the picture, paying no attention to perspective order. An additional layer of plaster fragments from a statue that is impossible to identify have already been inserted into those photo fragments, indicating that the traditional concepts of art have been shattered.

Such interlocking makes it obvious that images are always constructs, that the surface order of a picture need not necessarily be homogeneous, and that we fall prey to untenable conventions if we believe that the view »into« a picture should be organised parallel to reality. Pictures assert their own reality.

Giulio Paolini (born 1940) lives in Turin.