In The alphabet comes down from the stars. On the origin of writing (Mimesis, 2009) the famous geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti, recently deceased, traced the handwriting of the symbols that make up the Western alphabet (primarily Greek) from the observation of the starry night sky, the first written surface on which our ancestors were able to read stories and messages, whose decoding made the dimension of the sacred and the myth immanent for them. In the zodiac and in the constellations of the Milky Way, man learned to recognize animals, heroes, gods and demons, whose initials gave voice to the alphabet which subsequently allowed humanity to encode on Earth, through letters organized in written words, what it was drawn in the celestial vault. If in Genesis (2: 18-22) we read that “the Lord God fashioned all sorts of wild beasts and all the birds of the sky from the ground and brought them to man, to see what he would call them: in whatever way the man had called each of the living beings, that had to be his name”, the act of naming appears as the peculiar possibility of Creation granted to man, who through language has the possibility of shaping and distinguishing the matter of the world in which he is immersed, deriving the predestination of the alphabet which guarantees its order from the imperturbable perenniality of the astral reference.
The street artist Opiemme started from these suggestions to elaborate the expressive feature that has characterized his creative research in recent years: a refined exploded lettering that, disintegrating, materializes images and collisions of meaning, becoming the spokesperson for an engaging post-pop aesthetic that is placed in a border area between the neo-avant-garde visual poetry, the iconic parataxis of cloisonnisme and the occult persuasion of subliminal messages. The works from the Vortex series descend directly from galaxies and black holes, in which disjointed letters and words expand on the pictorial surface (which can be wall, canvas, newspaper or geographical map) as a direct emanation of the explosion of stars distant years light from our space-time to generate suggestive graphic universes that are concretized in monumental but ultra-thin words. Seven years after the first explosion of his cosmopoetic galaxies in the Portanova12 gallery, the artist returned to the exhibition space in Bologna to ideally close the circle, summoning the most recent derivations of his constructivist poetic lettering (enriched with further numerological cabals referring to his personal experience) and presenting a preview of the new handwriting to which he began to devote himself. The GIOVA VRTX 7 – 4 – 66 exhibition offers the visitor the opportunity to delve deeply into the radical demiurgic elaboration of writing implemented by Opiemme starting from the first works in which this intuition still appears in embryo, as it can be seen in Distratti dal nulla / Distracted from nothing (2011) black square on a black background in which the repetition of the TV letters aligned draws the object corresponding to their meaning, identifying a screen within which the words of the title appear abraded and latent.
If in this first work the identification between writing, its meaning and the further semantic field that arises from their cohesion appears subjected to an idea of an elementary and rigid form still reminiscent of the lapidary effectiveness of the supremacist manifestos, in the works from the Vortex series the word becomes a fluid form, capable of condensing itself into encrypted messages or dissolving into metrics without having to loosen the intuition of the identity between the handwriting and its implications of meaning (understood in a poetically enlarged way, but never unrealistic) that the artist derives from the structure of the constellations. Opiemme explores this bond both negatively and positively through essential compositions of typefaces that build “talking” animals and things or that expand onto pictorial surfaces as after a big bang, or through an abstract painting that reproduces with the dripping technique the stellar dust or the trails of shooting stars to create gaudy astral backgrounds with an impossible saturation on which the letters float, free even from the coercion of the concatenation to which language is usually associated. It is precisely the instinctive experience of dripping that may have suggested to the artist the stylistic turning point with which the exhibition itinerary ideally ends and which finds an environmental dimension in the large site-specific canvas that occupies an entire wall of the gallery, in which writing, no longer limited by the stencil and adherence to typographic standards, becomes a freehand performative action in which the reiteration and overlapping of the signs are a direct emanation of his poetic visions, no longer “literally” legible but intelligible through an intuitive and perceptive way.
The finissage of the GIOVA VRTX 7 – 4 – 66 exhibition will take place on Friday 19 November at the Portanova 12 gallery, during which a book of poems and thoughts by the artist (Distratti dal nulla) and limited edition engravings made in collaboration with the Albicocco art printing house in Udine, while next week (23 November at 9.00 pm) a live painting by Opiemme at the TaG-Teatro di Granarolo will mark the conclusion of the “creative vortex” phase to which the artist has dedicated himself for seven years.
Opiemme. GIOVA VRTX 7 – 4 – 66
15/10/2021 – 19/11/2021
curated by Massimo Cattafi
Via Portanova 12, Bologna
For all the images: Opiemme. GIOVA VRTX 7 – 4 – 66, courtesy Portanova12, Bologna
Graduated in art history at DAMS in Bologna, city where she continued to live and work, she specialized in Siena with Enrico Crispolti. Curious and attentive to the becoming of the contemporary, she believes in the power of art to make life more interesting and she loves to explore its latest trends through dialogue with artists, curators and gallery owners. She considers writing a form of reasoning and analysis that reconstructs the connection between the artist’s creative path and the surrounding context.