Lucio Fontana

Looking back over my previous years work in alignment with my interests was the starting point for my research. Movement (both mechanical and human intervention) within sculptural objects being the most obvious theme, however, I wanted to explore the more subtle movement and observations of objects – or what we consider as representations of objects. My key phrases for research stemmed from words like movement, hole, light, body and object. I’m particularly interested in holes after some Experimental Surfaces lockdown play where I obsessively pushed hundreds of tiny holes into the clay with blunt objects. This led me to my first artist: Lucio Fontana, Argentine-Italian artist known as the founder of Spatialism, who “changed art history with a hole”. 1 This ‘radical expansion of medium’ by rejecting traditional materials and technologies of sculpting, for example, bronze casting, meant he could ‘transcend the limit of that medium’. This also had me thinking about what mediums I could use to create my work. I have access to all the technology required to make exquisite, expensive-looking pieces but does this reflect my interests as an material conscious artist? I see my ongoing practice as finding ways to reduce my artistic waste and materialistic consumption. 2

“Spatial Concept, the End of God,” from 1964.© 2019 Fondazione Lucio Fontana / ARS / SIAE

Fontana goes on to explore the changes of the ‘pictorial language’ of careful compositional holes to more abstract renditions that distort the relationships between figure and ground and creating illusions of space – the canvas becomes the object with discussions around ‘unsophisticated art forms’ and the dissociation from traditional paintings and materials. I am also interested in his use of “expensive” looking colours (reflective paint, iridescent glazes or the gold colour historically used in the backgrounds of religious paintings). Fontana states, ‘my coloured sculpture aimed at breaking the sense of stasis with colour, giving the material a connection with space.’ This would be a fun concept to play around with – making discarded materials seem valuable again through means of changing our perception of that medium. Simply by attaching pre-conceived notions around what colours are considered expensive, precious or royal. He also argues (as an ex-painter) that these canvases are indeed sculptures and not paintings ‘to me they are punctured canvases that represent a sculpture, a new thing in sculpture…the “hole” is the beginning of a sculpture in space’. 2

“Concetto Spaziale” (1962) by Lucio Fontana, courtesy Mazzoleni, copyright Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan
  1. Abigail Toll, “How Lucio Fontana Changed Art History with a Hole,” Sleek Magazine, September 9, 2016, https://www.sleek-mag.com/article/lucio-fontana-art/.
  2. Anthony White, “No Form Can Be Spatial, the Origins of Lucio Fontana’s Spatial Concept” (ART JOURNAL 45, May 23, 2014), https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/essay/no-form-can-be-spatial-the-origins-of-lucio-fontanas-spatial-concept-2/.
  3. Ibid.
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