This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Fondazione Baruchello.
Still making work in his nineties, Italian artist Gianfranco Baruchello has forged a singular path in the art world. A close consort of Marcel Duchamp, Baruchello fully exercised the Dadaists call for artistic liberty. Baruchello said that Duchamp gave him the authorization to do whatever he wanted, just as long as he really liked and in made sense to him. In a vast compendium of signs, ideas and concepts in his painting, drawing, assemblage, film, installation and performance, Baruchello’s artworks straddle the boundary between abstraction and figuration to examine the relationship between the internal psyche and the external body. Here, works such as the untitled canvas perfectly encapsulates the artist’s unique artistic idiom. The large canvas appears as a white platform on which the artist freely composes a series of half sentences, floating words, broken concepts, scattered letters and scribbled images of animals, human beings, and architecture. Meticulously constructed, layer by layer, Baruchello’s work explores the mechanics of thought, tracing the paths of the artist’s ideas as they weave through the labyrinth of his mind. As the artist has said, “The voyage of my mind was guiding me in all directions, inside and outside, never one-way but always focused on fragments and emptiness” (G. Baruchello, https://elephantmag.com/5-questions-with-gianfranco-baruchello/ [Accessed 10/1/2016]). Albero Madre and Albero Padre belong to the artist’s series of “box showcases,” for which he uses the deep interior space of a wooden box to create depth for elaborate drawings created by cutting paper into delicate designs. Here, individual leaves have been fashioned to form the shape of a tree. Light penetrates the intricately cut paper to play with the surfaces of its edges to cast elaborate shadow. In many ways reminiscent of Joseph Cornel’s boxes, for the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 the artist stacked individual shadow boxes to create a model for a room-sized library. Throughout his long career Baruchello has pushed the frontiers of artmaking forward. He anticipated contemporary social practice when he used farming and agriculture as mediums for making his work. He maintained a farm outside of Rome, where the agricultural products were as much the artwork as the paintings and drawings that he produced onsite. The artist has also worked extensively in film, and also incorporated his studies in economics and anthropology into his artmaking practice making him one of the most imaginative producers of the past century.