It’s easy to think Fontana’s ‘cut’ works are all the same, aside from the number of slashes and the colour. Actually a current show reveals variation in the incisions:
- Fontana started puncturing the canvas with holes (the Buchi series) in the late 40’s before making the first Stanley Knife cuts in 1958 – at age 59. Concetto spatiale, 1960, features less incisive but quite elongated incursions of that type.
- The classic Tagli range from very narrow, reading from a distance as a line rather than a cut (as in the red example form 1964), to broad enough to show through to the backing of black gauze (as in the golden brown example from 1960). That shimmers slightly and hints at deep space.
Namhad Projects is showing those three paintings and three others alongside a film on Fontana, which emphasises that he was essentially a sculptor with the stated aim of ‘conquering space’, of making limited space expand into ‘limitless spatiality’. The cuts aren’t about violence, but about reaching out into space to trigger the imagination. Concetto Spaziale – Attese, Fontana’s name for these works, can be interpreted as ‘spatial concept – expectations’ or ‘hope’.
And if that show doesn’t quite cut it for you, head to Kate MacGarry, where Laura Gannon makes far more incisions than Fontana in her sculptural paintings.
Laura Gannon: Wide Sargasso Sea, 2020-22
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head