OXYMORON AND HOMOEOPATHY
“Drawing, painting and sculpture are not traditional but original forms of expression, and
thus also belong to the future.” These were the words of Gino De Dominicis. In Sumerian culture, the hero Gilgamesh was king, painter, sculptor and architect. So he was not the warrior king of later generations: among the Sumerians, the king was the artist. Right from
the start, Gino De Dominicis drew, painted and made three-dimensional works. In the year of 1964 he had already shown about a hundred paintings and drawings. Then, when galleries started to reject painting, he gradually managed to reintroduce both drawing and painting into the discourse. Beyond the recurrent problem of painting, the real adventure began with a surprisingly lucid and self-assured exhibition in 1969, at Fabio Sargentini’s L’Attico. In this show, a poised golden rod, entitled Equilibrium, was suspended in space: it appeared as a sort generative line for the entire work. Next to it were the Cubo Invisibile
(Invisible Cube) and the Cilindro Invisibile (Invisible Cylinder): traced out on the ground, their bases formed a circle and a square, and possibly these two solids were chosen precisely for their different bases and for the dialectic between circle and square
that was to return in Tentativo di far formare dei quadrati invece che dei cerchi attorno a
un sasso che cade nell’acqua (Attempt to form squares instead of circles around a stone
falling into water). A hook appeared to hold a pail filled with water suspended in the air,
as though water were solid and could be pulled up. Also a nail — a minimal analogy
of the rod — was suspended from a wall. And then the stone — Aspettativa di un casuale
movimento molecolare generale in una sola direzione tale da generare un movimento
spontaneo del materiale (Waiting for a general random molecular movement in a single
direction to generate spontaneous movement of the material) — and the ball — Palla di
gomma (caduta da 2 metri) nell’attimo immediatamente precedente il rimbalzo (Rubber ball [fallen from a height of two meters] at the instant immediately prior to its rebound).
Even though they consisted of just two simple elements, the complexity of these works is to be found in their double — and, in a certain sense, contradictory — status: on one hand in the way the invisible movement — which is virtual in the case of the ball and
hoped-for in the case of the stone — is made transparent, and on the other, the power of the language of art to capture the moment of immobility.
All is sealed by a funerary poster announcing his own death. The date, November 1969, is that of the exhibition. His work was erroneously considered by some to be ‘conceptual.’
But Mozzarella in Carrozza (1970) formalized the conflict: here words took material,
visual form. It was also a demonstration of the fact that mozzarella remains what it is even when it resides in a luxury coach, mocking Marcel Duchamp’s imitators, who still believe
that the gallery or the museum has the power to transform any object displayed there
into a work of art. Duchamp’s analysis has been transformed into superstition, according
to which the place acts as a sort of magic wand. A degree of artistry that, it is claimed,
passes metonymically from the container to the content. De Dominicis exposed this mechanism by demonstrating its ineffectiveness: in an exhibition at Gian Enzo Sperone’s gallery in Rome in 1982, the toilet remained what it was, by no means miraculously transformed by being close to a painting.
These are ‘homeopathic’ operations that criticize fashionable practices by duplicating
them. “In my art, I have made drawings, paintings, ‘sculptures’ (three-dimensional
works), invisible works, ubiquitous works, architecture and, on some occasions,
‘physical oxymorons’ and ‘homoeopathic’ works.” Noi siamo le puntine (We are the
drawing pins) (1975) was another homoeopathic-type operation: writing this sentence
on the ground with the drawing pins themselves, this time the artist ironically duplicated
the minimalist tautology, also reproducing the ground-level spatial arrangement of some works of Minimalism. On December 12, 1970, critic Maurizio Calvesi curated the “Fine dell’Alchimia” exhibition at L’Attico: Jannis Kounellis presented a blindfolded woman with flies that landed on her belly; Vettor Pisani displayed a slowly moving tortoise with a golden weight on its back in the midst of tortoise shells; Gino De Dominicis came with his
skeleton on roller skates, a pole balanced on a finger and a dog on a lead: Il tempo, lo
sbaglio, lo spazio (Time, Mistake, Space). In De Dominicis’s view, the space of art is that
of verticality, and the error is that of attempting to move horizontally and, to an even greater degree, the desire to apply acceleration by using roller skates. D’IO is a play on words — ‘God’ (‘Dio’) and ‘Of myself ’ (‘d’io’) — that forms the title of an intangible exhibition from April 24, 1971. Consisting of sound alone, it appears to have anticipated many recent trends. It is a long, powerful and prolonged laugh that echoes through the empty gallery: this too is an invisible work.