This work is registered in the Archivio Alighiero Boetti, Rome, under no. 1738.
'Some of the best Arte Povera moments were hardware shop moments'. (Alghiero Boetti, quoted in Alex Potts, 'Disencumbered Objects', October 115 Spring 2008, p. 178)
Rosso Guzzi Rosso Gilera is the best-known example of a series of square monochrome paintings that Boetti made in 1967 at the height of his involvement with Arte Povera.1967 was a key year in the development of the international Conceptual art movement that would come to dominate artistic production into the Twenty First Century.Boetti's seamless merging of the concept of the industrial paint chart, the ready-made art object and abstract monochrome painting in these works added a rich vein to this aesthetic by helping to reveal the innate romance and poetry hidden within the ordinary objects of everyday life.
Executed in Turin, the home of the Fiat car company, the two square iron panels that comprise Rosso Guzzi Rosso Gilera have been spray-painted using two very slightly different shades of red. Boetti selected his colours for this series of monochrome paintings from a range created for the painting of cars and motorcycles and chose from this according to the romance or excitement incited by the often poetic names they had been given.
Uniquely, Rosso Guzzi Rosso Gilera takes a diptcyh format in this series of paintings, because each colour refers to two of Italy's most famous motorcycle manufacturers, the keen racing rivals Gilera and Guzzi. In the 1950s and early '60s Gilera and Guzzi each had their own devoted following of Italian fans and it is this rivalry that Boetti playfully both represents and humorously celebrates with the diptych form. Here, the intense and noisy history and rivalry between these two great Italian institutions is silently captured through the simplicity and symmetry of these two very similar but slightly different rectangular panels.
The pure conceptual nature yet inherent mimesis of this work, with each panel openly displaying itself while also reflecting its near twinned nature in the other also betrays the beginnings of an important new tendency in Boetti's work and one that would ultimately transcend its arte povera beginnings. While the simultaneous symmetry and difference within the two rectangles anticipates the origins ordine e disordine (order and disorder) principle that Boetti explored further in other rectangular work of this period such as the Dama and the Quadrati, its infusion of the concept of identity also prompted the more personal integration with his work that Boetti expressed in the twin brass plaques 11 Lugio 2023-16 Dicembre 2040, his Gemelli (Twins) of 1968 and perhaps his ultimate mimetic act, the separating of himself into the twin persona of Alighiero e Boetti (Alighiero and Boetti).