Michelangelo Pistoletto returns back to Galleria Continua, showing new work at the gallery’s Beijing premises in the 798 district – following his first show there in 2008. This recent suite of mirrors offers a number of fresh ideas while at the same time looking back to earlier works.

The mirror, which in sculptural form fills the first floor of the gallery, is structured in self-reflecting forms that replicate into multiples according to the angle between the two elements comprising it. Division and multiplication, accumulation and exclusion, understood as universal foundations for all organic development, are the fundamental themes of this type of work; already explored by the artist in 1977.

Further, visitors will discover some new examples of mirror paintings with a specific autobiographical note, on public display for the first time. The artist has used the silkscreen technique to incorporate an image of himself into the mirror-polished stainless steel surface, inviting the viewer to become part of the scene by creating a fourth dimension of participation in the present.

Pistoletto places his own figure to the fore, holding a wooden mallet, a symbol of generative destruction taken from his famous performances, such as the one he did for the Yokohama triennale in 2008 (now part of the MOMA collection in New York) and then the following year at the Venice Biennale.

The third floor of the gallery houses Metrocubo d’infinito (Cubic Meter of Infinity), a work that seems to pick up on the essential concepts of Arte Povera: six mirrors assembled with a simple piece of rope delimit the empty space of a cubic metre. The viewer’s curiosity and perception are stimulated in order to create a mental image of infinite and omnidirectional reflections inside a space that cannot effectively be used. The mirror, whose capacity to reflect remains even when it is not looked at by any eye, becomes the intermediary between the invisible and the visible, extending the capacity of the viewer’s eye itself.

Michelangelo Pistoletto was born in Biella in 1933. He began to exhibit his work in 1955 and had his first solo show in 1960 with Galleria Galatea in Turin. His early work is characterized by an inquiry into self-portraiture. In the two year period from 1961-1962, the first Mirror Paintings were made, which incorporate the viewer and real time into the work directly, opening up perspective, and reversing Renaissance perspective that had been closed off by the twentieth century avant-garde. These works quickly brought Pistoletto international acclaim, leading to individual shows in important galleries and museums in Europe and the United States in the sixties. The Mirror Paintings provided the foundation of his subsequent artistic output and theoretical exploration.

Michelangelo Pistoletto
Oltre Lo Specchio
Galleria Continua Beijing
Through 21 Oct 2018