Sixteenth episode of the program “Pralines. Deliciousness from the world of art” by Ly thi Thanh Thao and Sergio Mandelli dedicated to Enzo Esposito.
Enzo Esposito is born in Benevento in 1946.
Soon after completing his studies at the Academy of Naples, Enzo Esposito manifests great interest in conceptual art, the then dominant art language of the international stage.
This interest inspires Esposito to execute artworks evoking instruments and practices of surgical character.
Esposito has, in particular, two points of reference: on the one hand, he uses the white color, considered as the summing or the zeroing of all colors, which is the typical color of Piero Manzoni; on the other hand, he looks to the Viennese Actionism, which has as protagonists the artists’ bodies under authentic tortures.
As to these “actionists”, Esposito drastically highlights the difference: the instruments he showcases are fruits of his ideation, therefore absolutely useless for any kind of operation. In fact, he never dreams of undertaking the Viennese practices.
Rather, he makes paintings that deal with laceration, understood not as a desperate accusation of existential malaise of modern man, but as the expanding of boundaries, a concept we’re focusing on.
Afterwards, Esposito chooses photography as his artistic means.
He employs a model that, seen from the back, is self-inflicted.
At this moment enters the figure of Acéphale.
Acéphale, conceived by André Masson, is the protagonist of the homonymous magazine published in Paris between 1936 and 1939.
This magazine put forth George Bataille’s intellectual and controversial tenets that exalted the pulsations of eroticism and of death.
Originated from the Vitruvian man of Leonardo da Vinci, Acéphale is, however, beheaded; he has a skull in place of the sexual organs and has, in his right hand, a sacred heart, and in his left hand , a dagger.
We don’t need to have a thorough study of Acéphale. It suffices us to consider Acéphale as the symbol of a knowledge connected with body experience which proves to be more visceral and therefore, according to Bataille, more authentic.
In addition there is another fundamental concept of Bataille called Dépense, which means “waste”. This concept refers to emotions and passions that drive us to ecstasy, to the loss of ourselves.
This is the prevailing idea in Esposito’s works, the idea of “expanding the boundaries”. Consequently, Enzo Esposito delivers clear blows against the idea of art dominated by the aseptic conceptual rationalism.
He begins to exhibit works that, having as starting point a drawing together with fragments of photos, always tend to expand in view of invading the walls of the gallery.
There appear various elements relating to slashes, to laceration such as pieces of glass, and naturally, the outline of a dagger, the dagger of Acéphale, that are repeated a great many times.
Then there come colors: Esposito’s colors are vivid, are brilliant as if they wanted to explode in their search for freedom.
In his works, as we well see, Enzo Esposito starts from an initial sign, then repeats it again and again till it invades one canvas after another.
It’s not by chance that Renato Barilli, together with Francesca Alinovi, invites Esposito to the exhibition entitled “Pittura Ambiente” in 1979.
Moreover Catherine Millet invites Esposito to the exhibition called “Baroques 81”.
Renato Barilli further includes Esposito among the artists of “Nuovi Nuovi”, an artistic movement of remarkable importance.
In the meantime Esposito gives birth to a new sign which has four sides. This new sign makes us think of a door, a passage, the pushing of the limits of the canvas inwards, into the depth. This is the evolution of the idea of laceration from which his artworks originate.
To permit this sign to expand to the utmost, the painter is obliged to add pieces of panels to the canvas.
His work is the result of an artist that, with originality, knew how to consort with the cultural European debate.