by Armando Della Vittoria
In the new work by Armando Della Vittoria, a.k.a. Gabriele Di Matteo, a.k.a. Armando Della Vittoria & Co., the meaning of the work is right in the “& Co”.
“Co.” stands for: Company, Companions, Co-conspirators, Colleagues, Conscripts, Convinced, Circumscribed, Clerks, Conscious, Constant, Contrary, Cultivated, Coward, Creative, Confirmands, Cretin, Christians, Cretin again, Credulous, Cruel, Carpenters, Carers, Crucified, Cooks, Cultivators, Communion and Liberation, Communists, Cheguevarists, Clorophillians, Chrysanthemums, Candlesticks, Cradlers, Curators, Couscous Clanners, Cuckolds, Captious, Celebrators, Clever, Concessionaries, Cock-a-doodle-doo, Chiropractors, Chinese & Cherries.
Here we go again… The problem with Gabriele Di Matteo’s work is always the same: Authorship. This time, with My Friends, which gives the title to the project and also reveals its authors, through an “Exquisite Corpse”, Gabriele Di Matteo delegates the image to various Co-Authors… precisely, “His Friends”, who go along with it and shuffle the cards of authorship. But the question is the following, and it is an old one: if everyone takes part in the work, is everyone an author? Or are the authors only Breton or Tzara who conceived it? Or, perhaps, the sense of the art (at least for Breton-Della Vittoria) is in the act of delegating. All artist-friends are willing to play this “game” of freedom, but before contributing to the Moleskine with their works, they can’t help but look at the previous pages. Breaking the rules of the “Exquisite Corpse”, each artist, although completely free in his/her creative act, is strictly related to the previous pages, to the responsibility of being part of Di Matteo’s “& Co.”, always bearing in mind that on the back of each page there is the signature of Alias Armando Della Vittoria. So the question is always whether the signature is the work or the work is the signature.
In the cover of My Friends, next to Ceci n’est pas Magritte (where René refuses to feature as an author), we find young digital painter Zaccaria Di Matteo, who opens the work and gives it its title. He is followed by another painter-friend, Miltos Manetas, who sent a drawing by email during a flight from N.Y. to Stockholm; and by Giovanna Francesconi, leader of the Pollock team with Pier Paolo Pasolini. Then, from China with love, we have 34567 and 67890, and, between them, a work by Federico Luger, a young expressionist artist from Caracas, who is also Di Matteo’s gallery manager. Then we find a work by Loredana Filice, who reproduces a drawing by Zaccaria, one of My Friends, in line with Di Matteo’s style. Salvatore Russo and Salvatore Testa reproduce another Chinese work and reveal us the problem of authorship (but you shouldn’t miss the previous episodes)… Franco Silvestro unmasks Vedovamazzei; Antonio Funicola, with his ringless spouses, plays with dimensions as an illusionist; Nicola Di Caprio, in a collage/drawing that virtually “smells of wine”, draws on imageries of art and music. Among venomous snakes and cactuses, Shannon Pultz and Ralph Traviato say hello from the 19th hour of time zone; other greetings come from Patterson Beckwith… and, finally, here comes a 1986 work by Armando Della Vittoria, who therefore becomes a “Co.”, too.
All “My Friends” – as a famous singer-songwriter used to sing – “come back, or perhaps they have never left. They were here, in my heart, and I had never realised it before. All my friends come back, they never left me, they are here, in my heart. All my friends come back. I’m just a little man, under a small glass, which can never be broken. I’d like to shatter memories, thoughts, just to say hello. I wish I were still twenty, with everything still to say, just for a minute. And I close my eyes harder than time, but don’t you leave me. And all of a sudden I see them: faraway, so close, the same old friends of a thousand nights, and I hear all voices: the sweet, the high-pitched, the soft and the desperate one. And I remember I have to apologise to someone… but maybe it was just bullshit.”
(Torre del Greco - Naples, 1957) Lives and works in Milan, Italy and Paris, France
Much of Gabriele Di Matteo’s work is based on objects and “found” images. Besides that, the artist constructs a specific discourse on mediation: he places mediations between the act of taking and the final result, he complicates the process of “giving shape” and at the end he dramatizes the mediation itself. Di Matteo’s purpose is not to just produce images, but to question the image as a category. The only peculiarity that distinguishes his practice from a coherently self-analytical one is that such questioning happens through the narrative. The récit implied in the image reintroduces the metalinguistic dimension into the work of art, which is also one of the most interesting features in his latest works, where a sort of conceptual heritage clearly shows its effects.