Talvolta sole talvolta luna - Alighiero Boetti - 1981 - Mixed technique, cm. 100 × 280. Ufficio del Commissario Generale di Sezione per il Padiglione Italia. Alighiero Boetti was born in Turin in 1940 into a noble family
that wanted him to become an accountant. Keen on mathematics
and music and Oriental culture, he was fascinated by the
Dominican monk Giovanni Battista Boetti, an ancestor who was
a missionary in the Caucasus in the 18th century.
After abandoning his studies he dedicated himself to his
first works, using common objects and industrial materials that
were completely distorted to render abstract mathematical and
physical concepts such as: doubling, accumulating and dilating.
After joining the arte povera group in 1967, his art underwent
an exponential escalation that led him – through complex conceptual
passages that were often linked to mathematical relationships
and the discovery of the infinite properties of numbers
seen as concepts, presences and millenary icons – to the
highest levels of contemporary European art.
Fundamental for Boetti were his experiences in Afghanistan,
which he considered his second homeland, where he
produced his works of art embroidered on fabric. The title of the work under discussion refers to an arras embroidered on
canvas, using a mixed technique, consisting of a long rectangle
subdivided into four smaller rectangles, in shades of the two
primary colours of yellow and blue, representing the sky by day
and the sky by night.
On them are represented stars that seem to suggest constellations,
two of them – that on the first yellow rectangle on the
left in the third blue rectangle – are identical.
It could be that the constellations refer to particular moments
in the artist’s personal life. The constellation that appears
twice could perhaps represent Sagittarius, the zodiac sign of
the painter who was born on December 16.
It is a refined, cryptic, abstract and conceptual work, in line
with the passion for mathematics of the painter, that can be
perceived at various levels and hides many meanings, many of
which have still to be deciphered.
In its stylistic rendering Boetti seems to have remembered
one of his first Maestros: the great Lucio Fontana, whose works
he admired when he was just 17 at the Galleria Galatea in Turin.
Art historian, Technical Secretary to the Commissioner General
of Section of the Italian Pavilion