Bic pen on paper, series of 100 drawings, 55×40 cm each
Installation view: GAMeC Museum, Bergamo
Part of the exhibition series that, for years, the museum has devoted to the most interesting emerging artists on the international scene – who are asked to present a site-specific project commissioned for the occasion – the exhibition presents a body of 100 works that have never been shown before. The artist created them with a Bic ballpoint pen, a technique common to a number of works reflecting Stampone’s artist research, from “spelling books” to the “Global
Education” project. The 100 portraits depict the most important and influential artists of the contemporary era, from Ai Weiwei to William Kentridge, Marina Abramović, Shirin Neshat, Luigi Ontani, Jannis Kounellis, Maurizio Cattelan and Enzo Cucchi. At the same time, they also reveal the artist’s desire to work as a “court painter”, a definition identifying the broadest and most complex art system. Thus, this broadly contextualizes the original concept of artwork underlying the staging of this exhibition: the artist’s personal interest in a genre – court portraiture – that left its mark on art history starting with classicism, and that saw the work of artists such as Titian, Velázquez, Bronzino, Van Dyck, Hilliard and Lotto. Along with the “who”, these drawings incorporate the “how” and the “why” a certain personage is portrayed, but at the same time they also investigate rhetorical justifications and critical debate developed in the contemporary “court”.
Therefore, the exhibition reflects on the significance of creating a portrait today, on the presence and absence of the subject, and on the value of the portrait itself, in order to render not only the personality, but also the context in which a subject works. The technique of portraiture is rehabilitated and reinterpreted, now that photography and the painterly research of the contemporary age have manipulated it, if not neglecting and discarding it. The 100 figures are depicted as half-busts, all in the same frontal position. The drawings were made starting from photos found on the Internet as models, or were completed by the imagination of the artist, who thus counters what has been one of the typical characteristics of the portrait: capturing the subject from life. In the series created specifically for the GAMeC exhibition, Stampone decided to portray figures who have recounted, interpreted and mediated the transformation of the world, implementing a “filing of knowledge” and offering the public an encyclopaedic reinterpretation that stimulates reflection on the meaning of being an artist. Stampone is firmly convinced that the time has come for artists to recover their own ethics rather than concentrating solely on the concept of aesthetics and, through these works, he strives to affirm the importance of recovering the role of the artist, as a sort of “return to one’s roots”. The choice of using images found online as models for his portraits aims at reflecting on the overproduction of images typical of contemporary society and on the ensuing loss of the uniqueness of the image. In an era in which perception of the world is mediated through the omnipresence of images, in both our real and virtual lives, and in which each of us can become the author of portraits or self-portraits (consider the trend of “selfies” on social networks), Stampone confirms his artistic ability by recovering a traditional pictorial technique, reinterpreted through the use of a Bic ballpoint pen – with numerous passages, levels and overlays – can take the image away from its media-based universe to bring it back to the authorial dimension of the artist.