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PIstoletto mirror paintings
PIstoletto mirror painting

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Scaffali – attrezzature elettriche, 2015 
Silkscreen on super mirror polished stainless steel

When we stand in front of a mirror, we expect to see ourselves and our environment unobstructed in the reflection. In Scaffali, the recent exhibition by Michelangelo Pistoletto on view at Luhring Augustine, we look in the mirror and find ourselves captive in a scene that is resonant for its familiar and un-magical feeling: behind a shelving unit full of artifacts of labor.

Scaffali is the Italian word for “shelves”, which appear in all of the artworks in the exhibition, which Pistoletto creates through screen-printed images on large, highly polished blocks of steel that hang on the wall, almost flush with the floor. The image of shelves becomes the framing device in each of the works for various collections; old shoes, stacks of house paint and tools, pots and pans, car parts, milk crates, and so on. From a distance, the images appear photographic and scaled to the objects’ actual size, creating a convincing illusion of three-dimensionality. However, when standing close, the work—printed layers of color—become visible as separate dot-compositions, while the edges appear soft, exposing the technical process behind the work and breaking the illusion of the uncanny.

Scaffali demonstrates Pistoletto’s ability to give two dimensional works the authority of sculpture and performativity of the real. Each piece follows the same tight compositional framework: a shelving unit full of objects that takes up most of the picture plane. The type of shelves and objects vary from piece to piece, but the framework remains.

Read full article at theseenjournal.org