KOUNELLIS / NITSCH
The theatrical moment
Jannis Kounellis and Hermann Nitsch, it is their works that are the protagonists in the space of Umberto Benappi’s gallery in Turin, Italy. Two great masters confront each other – curated by Lóránd Hegyi – in a direct dialogue that speaks of energy, emotions, catharsis. As if art became theatre.
But what do the two artists have in common? One, Nitsch, a well-known performance artist, one of the leading founders of Viennese Actionism, creator of a new form of theatre (Das Orgien Mysterien Theater) without the use of words, which immediately involves all five senses, in a cathartic representation of life in its extreme aspects. The other, Jannis Kounellis, a Greek, first among the exponents of arte povera, famous for his contribution to the renewal of art in the 1960s, so used to constantly challenging the rules, experimenting with poor materials and unusual languages. Black, red (sometimes blood itself) and gold are the colours that bring back rituals for Hermann Nitsch; the black of coal, iron and again gold as a sign of transcendence for Jannis Kounellis.
“They both worked on the idea of combining elements with the most diverse meanings, each time creating an extraordinary energy, a struggle of forces that results in a great theatrical moment of tension and emotion. There is a clear reference to dramaturgy in this sense. Each installation becomes a play. Both for Nitsch, who materially founded his own theatrical current that sees each performance as the creation of a pictorial work that is the result of a collective involvement, a participation in the process that leads to catharsis. And also for Kounellis, albeit with a slower and more repetitive approach, who has always declared that he was inspired by Greek theatre in the origin of his works, confirming his desire to offer that cathartic experience typical of dramaturgy” explains curator Lóránd Hegyi.
The exhibition KOUNELLIS / NITSCH can be seen at the Umberto Benappi Gallery in Turin until December 9, 2023.