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Jannis Kounellis. La Stanza Vede

It featured for the first time a selection of 160 drawings from between 1970 and 1990. Rather than preparatory sketches of sculptures or venues, it deals with graphic annotations on the different spaces for which the artist produces his work. This explains the title of the exhibition: La Stanza Vede (The room sees).

These drawn annotations are an integral part of the artist’s creative process. As Fuchs says, it is the drawings which prepare the room as the place of action, rather than the room itself – with its own conditioners and characteristics – which predisposes the character of the works which it will house.


Jannis Kounellis was born in Piraeus, Greece, in 1936. Twenty years later he decided to move to Rome, the city where he made a name for himself as an artist and where he has lived ever since.


Kounellis strove to invent a personal and renewed artistic language (he would perhaps describe it as revolutionary). It is no accident that his first exhibition, in Rome in 1960, was titled Kounellis’ Alphabet. This new artistic language sprang from relation produced by drawing together inert and living materials, which favours sudden awareness and a critical attitude toward the preceding artistic creation and towards society as a whole. This is, according to Kounellis, the role of the artist. The result of his search represents a renewal of values, which on one hand are aggressive and disturbing, while on the other are deeply anchored in tradition.


The new language of Kounellis demanded, in first place, a new pictorial base, and secondly, a new alphabet of signs. At the beginning of the sixties he chose to substitute the traditional sheet of paper or canvas for a sheet of iron, to which he applied his own alphabet, made from fire, earth, coal, wool, and both living in dead animals and plants, amongst other things.


With this symbiosis of the “natural” with the “artificial”, Kounellis opened a new stage in his career, which would earn him international critical recognition.


For Kounellis, each new venue is nothing other than the space that receives him. The physical characteristics of the exhibition hall and the social-urban environment that house it will eventually define the series of repetitions that his works feature. Each room, each venue, each building, each neighbourhood and each city attunes the artist before he carries out his transformation through his work.


This, then is the attraction of La Stanza Vede. The almost 160 drawings are the studies carried out by Kounellis previous to setting up his equipment in the various venues. How he pervades them and how he imagines them before immersing himself in his fire, his quartered calves, his glass tumblers or his gas blowlamps, is perfectly captured in Kounellis’ drawings.