These pastels on paper are part of a large series developed during several years; in essence, they are landscapes. They play with the most fundamental datum of the landscape genre, which is the horizon line. In painting, the hori- zon line is the axis through which, in the last six centuries, every Western depiction of space has been constructed. The horizon line is the most artificial and arbitrary datum though which we produce representations of space, and yet it has become one of the most potent means of naturalizing our perception of space.
September 29 – November 18, 2017
Betts Project Gallery
100 Central Street, London
All the conflicts, cracks, and contradictions that have produced the land as we see it are subsumed and equalized by the establishment of the horizon line.
For centuries the horizon remained hidden behind elaborate compositions. It was only in17th century Dutch and Flemish landscape painting that the horizon line was made visible as the most explicit feature of the painting itself. In the paintings of Jan Porcellis, Jacob van Ruisdael and Pieter Snayers, the horizon becomes so overwhelming that it completely subsumes the vanishing point and any compositional feature that is not just the axis of the horizon.
The Piccolomini pastels on paper push to the extreme this logic of the horizon and as such they attempt to offer a final meditation on the very tradition of landscape painting at the moment in which this genre has been abandoned by artists and is seen as outmoded and romantic.
The series is named after general Ottavio Piccolomini for whom the Flemish baroque painter Pieter Snayers painted several battle scenes among which one of the most striking landscapes ever conceived – The Battle of Lützen (1632) – a painting that might have inspired one of the greatest paintings of the 17th century: Diego Velasquez’s Surrender of Breda (1634).
— Pier Vittorio Aureli, 2017
PIER VITTORIO AURELI was born in Rome in 1973. He graduated in architecture at the IUAV in Venice and earned his PhD at the TU Delft in 2005. His main research focus is the relationship between architectural form, political theory and urban history. He teaches at the Architectural Association in London and is also Visiting Professor at Yale School of Architecture. Aureli has written many essays on architecture and the city, and is the author of several books, notably ‘The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture’ (2011), ‘The Project of Autono- my: Politics and Architecture within and Against Capitalism’ (2008), and is the editor of the recently published collection of essays ‘The City as a Project’ (2014). Together with Martino Tattara he is the co-founder of the architectural office Dogma. Since its foundation Dogma has worked on the relationship between architecture and the city by focusing mostly on urban design and large-scale projects. In 2006 Dogma won the first Iakov Chernikhov Prize for the best emerging architectural practice. In 2013 an exhibition and accompanying cata- logue, ‘Dogma: 11 Projects’ opened at the Architectural Association in London. Part of the Dogma archive of drawings and collages is in the collection of the FRAC Centre in Orleans.
Aureli’s drawings are part of the Drawing Matter collection as well as private collections.
On Thursday 16 November 2017 Pier Vittorio Aureli will give a lecture at the Barbican, an event organised by the Architecture Foundation, in association with the Barbican.