The Fantastic World of Alighiero Boetti at the Dep Art

Moving to Rome in the autumn of ‘72, Alighiero Boetti decided to start over with a pencil and a piece of paper divided into squares. Actually, as early as 1965, the illustrious architect from Turin had already thought of creating works on paper with his own hands, rather than with collaborators. Monkeys, panthers, frogs, mountain goats, dolphins and other creatures of the animal kingdom become, for the artist, infinitely repeatable and combinable decorative elements, like numbers, without limits. Around thirty of those works on paper are at the centre of the exhibition Alighiero Boetti. Il Mondo Fantastico, at the Dep Art gallery. Far from constituting projects or preparatory drawings, the works making up the exhibition are inspired by nature and the animal kingdom, revealing a lesser-known side of the artist, who was also known to be an excellent painter. Besides an ink drawing from 1965 - expression of his very first creative period - there is also the installation Zoo from 1979 - set up by the architect, with his children Agata and Matteo, in his studio in Rome, often published but never seen live until today - thanks to a space specifically set up by the gallery to host this fantasy collection of beasts. An afghan rug, upon which the spectator can sit and observe the animals from up high, inevitably consents to fixing the point of view on the works. The disposition of the objects reflects the classic “Boettinian" conception of groupings by type, including geographic origins, as the artist himself states, “These animals carry within them the memories of millions of their ancestors and they recall time, ancient, slow, anonymous, identical, immobile, unchanging.” Capturing the artist’s view, besides unusual and rare subjects, are graphite drawings, ink works, water colours and ballpoint pen, like the Lampada from 1965, part of the artist’s Turin period.
Samantha De Martin - © 2018 for Bvlgari Hotel Milano