The present work belongs to a group of works produced by Fontana, mostly in the early 1960s, which occupies a unique position in his astonishing oeuvre. The novelist Milena Milani, a close friend of the artist, relates how Fontana was fascinated by the idea of virginity. The sanctity of the pictorial surface represented a virginal state which needed to be deflowered, literally violated with incisions and punctures to activate the space behind. In the current work, the sexual connotations are undeniable. The canvas is built up with thick paint; to the center a hole has been made with an awl or small instrument and enlarged with the artist's hand. The edges of the hole are torn out, further enhancing the resemblance to female genitalia. Painted in 'shocking pink' -- a fashionable and iconic colour of the day -- accentuating the salacious tone, these anatomical references form an uncompromising gesture.
By puncturing the canvas (an apparently simple action), Fontana radically departed from conventional perspective models. He was able to transcend illusionistic spatial depth -- a predominant formal concern in painting since the Renaissance-- and integrate real space into a two dimensional work of art. Hence the boundary between the viewer and pictorial space was dissolved. Fontana explained "Nowadays space measurement no longer exists... the sense of time and measurement has gone... and that means that you are nothing... When man begins to understand... that he is nothing absolutely nothing, that he is pure spirit, his material ambitions will fade away... My art is based on this purity, on this philosophy of nothing-- but it is a creative rather than a destructive nothing... The cuts or rather the holes, the first holes, did not signify the destruction of the canvas-- the abstract gesture of which I have been accused so often... it introduced a dimensions beyond the painting itself; this was the freedom to produce art by whatever means and in whatever form' (Fontana quoted in S. Whitfield, Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., London, October 1999, p. 122).
In Fontana's cosmology the aesthetic of holes and slashes is a multifaceted proposition. Representing not only the vastness of space, and frontiers of creativity, it has also been suggested Fontana's assaults on the canvas also echo the violence of twentieth century Europe. With a great economy of means, and conscious simplicity of materials, --itself a critique of the idea of technical accomplishment in art discourse-- he achieves a highly concentrated and poetic layering of meaning.