press release

A great retrospective entitled Dichiaro di essere Emilio Isgrò (I declare I am Emilio Isgrò) curated by Marco Bazzini and Achille Bonito Oliva will be on until 11th May, 2008 at the ‘Luigi Pecci’ Centre for Contemporary Art. The exhibition goes back over the essential milestones in the career of artist, poet and writer Emilio Isgrò.

The duel between Emilio Isgrò and the printed word has been going on for almost half a century. It was in the early sixties when the author started creating his cancellature (deletions), that is, works accomplished by acting on texts and manually covering some parts of them. Words are deleted with heavy markings, so that only small fragments of sentences are still readable.

The act of deleting is a paradoxical destruction-reconstruction gesture. Those words which are not affected by deletion bring lifeblood to a new message carrying essential meanings: the useless is swept away. Deletion becomes the unmistakable language of his artistic exploration which, though anticipating conceptuality, tends more and more to affirm its own independence as time goes by: each time the artist tackles the technique of deletion, he will reach results with of varying quality.

Together with the concept of deletion, which is central and constant in the works by Isgrò, the cohabitation between words and images is also original. Writings converse with photographs, which are expedients that become unavoidable precepts to understand his work.

The language element and visual perception interact, thus suggesting a more thorough “reading” of the work that goes beyond its simple aesthetical impact: the viewer is induced to make an ideological and interpretative reflection on the subject.

On the occasion of this exhibition a catalogue has been published including essays by Marco Bazzini, Achille Bonito Oliva, Andrea Cortellessa, and Alberto Fiz, together with an anthology of writings by the artist and an anthology of criticism.

Emilio Isgrò, born at Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto (Province of Messina) in 1937, has lived and worked in Milan since 1956. After making his literary debut with the book of poetry Fiere del Sud (published by Arturo Schwarz, 1956), in 1964 he began to produce his first “cancellature” (deletions) exhibited in Italian and international galleries and museums. The theme of deletion, a recurrent concept in twentieth-century art, is the authentic and systematic foundation of his aesthetics, to the point of making him the leading figure in this practice. “I delete words to safeguard them, it is a gesture of salvation. My techniques of expressive language allow me to disappear, only to re-emerge again”, Isgrò has declared in an interview.

In 1977 he was awarded first prize at the Sao Paolo Biennale. In 1985 he presented the multimedia installation La Veglia di Bach in Milan, commissioned by La Scala Theatre for the European Year of Music, while in 1998 Seme d’arancia was installed at Barcellona in Sicily. In the years 1972, 1978, 1986, and 1993 he was invited to the Venice Biennale. His activity in the theatre and as author is also important, as demonstrated by “L’Orestea di Gibellina” (1983/84/85) as well as by novels and books of poetry, among them “L’avventurosa vita di Emilio Isgrò” (Il Formichiere, 1975), “Marta de Rogatiis Johnson” (Feltrinelli, 1977), “Polifemo” (Mondadori, 1989) and “L’asta delle ceneri” (Camunia, 1994).

only in german

Dichiaro di essere Emilio Isgro
(I declare I am Emilio Isgro)
kuratiert von Marco Bazzini and Achille Bonito Oliva