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Carla Accardi: Magazzino d'Arte Moderna.

Carla Accardi began her career as a painter in the late '40s, and her work has shown ceaseless vitality ever since. When the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris simultaneously hosted a retrospective of her work and a group show of young painters last year, it was Accardi who came across as the youngest in spirit. Her pictorial marks are energetic elements that imbue the surface with dynamism and the luminous power of color.

In the '60s Accardi experimented with the additive law of pictorial color, according to which two contrasting tones of the same strength increase in luminosity when juxtaposed. The artist thus delineated marks of one color on surfaces uniformly treated with another. The lines where the two tones come into contact seem to emit a brilliant light that can make these abstract canvases hard to look at. Then, beginning in the mid-'60s, she began making brightly colored marks on transparent surfaces, opening the work up to the surrounding space. This exhibition began with works from that period: Rosso verde (Red Green), 1967, consisting of sheets of transparent plastic painted with undulating red and green marks, mounted and hung on the wall, and two works called Rotolo (Roll), both 1965, transparent sheets covered with sinuous pink marks, rolled up and resting on the floor. When these works were first created and exhibited, this simple, almost unassuming pictorial reality revolutionized painting in Italy and beyond.

But the real focus of the show was on Accardi's more recent work. Three large canvases once again stress the reciprocal intensification of colors, although the additive law is no longer at work. The artist has delineated angular and irregular abstract shapes in silver against white surfaces; within the shapes are cursive doodles, also silver. Almost illegible against the white background, the silver interacts with the ambient light, dazzling the eye with reflections. Two other recent works use metallic paint. In Rosso oro nero (Red Gold Black), 2003, Accardi has delineated shapes filled with continuous gold strokes within a large, dark red rectangle against a black background. These figures have an almost ,archaic feel and an elegance that is accentuated by the interaction of the colors. The same palette is used in Rosso oro (Red Gold), 2003, deployed in a stream of marks that are freer and broken up into segments, constructed along a diagonal that separates the field of red marks above from the gold ones below.

Three more pieces present a tension between painted surface, raw canvas background, and colored mark. In the diptych Si adagiarono sparse (They Laid Down Scattered), 2001, two large yellow hexagons stand out at the center of two adjacent jute canvases. The marks covering the entire surface change in intensity, becoming yellow against the neutral jute and silver against the yellow. The same dynamic is at work in the yellow of two rhombus shapes in another diptych, Al di la di ogni esempio (Beyond Every Example), 2000, where the chromatic play is such that the painted portion becomes ignited with orange, and in yet another canvas, Triangolo azzurro (Blue Triangle), 2003, where an equilateral triangle is studded with silver and surrounded by blue marks.

Accardi's pink, orange, yellow, and silver are artificial, inorganic colors that can "shout" without ever being dramatic. Plastic (like the Plexiglas she has used in sculpture) is a light, almost invisible material that has little weight or density and opens up to the space. Throughout Accardi's long history, her colors and materials have addressed the condition of technological "modernity," aligning her with an Italian tradition that stretches from the Futurists through Fontana--a tradition she continues to uphold brilliantly.
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Author:Verzotti, Giorgio
Publication:Artforum International
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:607
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