Maurizio Nannucci

Similarities & Differences


The general theme of Hofstätter Projekte precisely fits a neon work Maurizio Nannucci installed on the facade of the Altes Museum Berlin in 2005: ALL ART HAS BEEN CONTEMPORARY. In his interpretation of this relatively wide programmatic bracket and the conception of an according exhibition at Hofstätter Projekte – curated by Edelbert Köb – Nannucci was granted the greatest possible freedom, as will be subsequent artists exhibiting at this new space.

As expected, neon writings form the backbone of Nannucci’s intervention at the new project space. In order to define, interpret and control the existing space in question, the artist uses text and light as a material, as a physical substance. This is an important, yet often less noticed aspect of the artist’s recurrent double strategy. Seven rhythmically set neon works in different colours accentuating horizontal and vertical edges define and divide the spatial continuum; in addition, the variation of colours of the respective works and their interaction create ever-changing colour shades that heighten our sensual perceptions. Nannucci’s complex formal composition is further enhanced by his careful inclusion of existing perspectives at the exhibition space, between the space’s upper and lower floors.

To Nannucci, content and form are of exactly the same value. Texts, shapes and their setting in a particular space originate in ongoing open processes of mutual diffusion. His spaces of colour and sensation are always also spaces of connotation and thought. The characters, words and sentences are transporting meaning; in concert with the fluorescent tubes radiating coloured light, the sentences are distributing meaning. They are triggers or references, rather than explanations and precise statements, they never assert. They rather state what cannot be refuted: ALL ART HAS BEEN CONTEMPORARY or inquire: WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT WHEN WE ARE TALKING ABOUT ART. Consequently, his text pieces deal with the unsaid, or rather the unspeakable, and are mere thematic approximations. The seven sentences created for Hofstätter Projekte are equally open, but at second glance they embrace the programmatic theme of the project space. WHEN THE FLOW OF TIME OPENS NEW ZONES OF IMAGINATION is referring to time as being a defining factor, but – at the same time – not a precondition for art, which manifests itself in tenuous classes of status, tenuous categories and changing meanings of artistic artefacts: NO SINGLE OBJECT IS INNOCENT.

The large empty spaces between the text pieces should be understood as “clearings in the forest of signs, as a moment of silence in our noisy world” (Pier Luigi Tazzi). The text pieces for the Viennese project are kept relatively simple: they are all the same font and size. Since the artist decided to integrate pieces of furniture from the Kunsthandel Reinhold Hofstätter and the respective collection he created and elaborated a sequence of neon writings that are strongly related to the project curated by Edelbert Köb. Selecting chandeliers, chairs (Robert Fix, Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Otto Wagner, …), tables and books by Austrian pioneers from arts and philosophy (Friedrich Achleitner, Adolf Loos, Ernst Jandl, Gerhard Rühm, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Margarethe Schütte-Lihotzky, Franz West), the artist forms basic shapes of writing such as a line, a rectangle or a circle thereby contrasting the ambiguous meaning of words and sentences with the assertiveness of geometric shapes.

‘Similarities & Differences’ is an expression and a condensation of Maurizio Nannucci’s conceptual approach. This is where Nannucci’s reference to Wittgenstein recurs, these compositions being perfect examples of the concept of „Familienähnlichkeit“ (family resemblance): ”But we are inclined to think that the common notion of a leaf (chandelier, chair, table) is something like a visual image, but one that only comprises what is common to all leaves (chandeliers, chairs, tables).“

From the sixties onwards, Maurizio Nannucci has nurtured profound personal relationships with some protagonists of the Viennese contemporary art scene. To him, this exhibition is also to be understood as a reference to his Viennese “friends” – at least in spirit. He was therefore delighted to discover modernist artefacts in the storage of Kunsthandel Reinhold Hofstätter – generally rather renown for pieces from the Gothic and Baroque periods – which allowed him to implement this idea for the exhibition in Vienna.