New York, May 1974
Rome, June 1984
The drawing "Mary's armchair" was born in N.Y. in 1974.
From that moment on, a research began on how to compose and decompose an image, on its possible relationship with the page / the poster, a book / reality. Then begins a "discourse on the method". The book despite having the characteristics of the manual (technical solutions / materials / supports) reflects a mental process, a sort of reflection transposed on one's profession. The professionalism of drawing and painting, the image manipulator, the person struggling with relationships and meanings, the graphic designer, therefore, objects to some symbol of his work or all of himself. And from within his daily work emerges what he wants to be different. The cushion was a present for Angelika Saleh, Carla and I were guests in her house in New York. As I went back into the house I put the cushion on the empty seat of the salmon coloured armchair which stood in the sitting-room, on the left as one entered. The positioning was so rapid and felicitous that in a little while I was already in front of them, drawing them both, armchair and cushion. For several days I had been drawing windows corners of the house objects Joe (Angelika’s husband). I had filled a spiral binder with a lot of drawings, they were all in sequence page after page; I was working with few materials. I didn’t know that day the drawings of Mary’s armchair were to be the start of a long series of images and of details, that were to go on over the years.
Rome, June 1974.
Giorgio Fraire printed the first poster of Mary’s armchair for me. I had no intent, I only wanted to reproduce the original drawing at any mean: I removed the coloured signs on the cushion and printed a poster 70x100 in two colours. This was the beginning of the most wonderful adventure that would ever to happen to me. I convinced Fraire to print a portfolio of four armchairs. On each piece, printed like reflections on the armchair, the drawings of the house of Joe and Angelika Saleh.
Talamone – Grosseto, Agosto 1974. A Talamone per circa un mese lavorai a ridisegnare la poltrona, feci grandi disegni su carta da pacchi, usando lo smalto nero e giallo. Cercavo di usare sempre tecniche diverse, mischiavo di proposito gessi con smalti nei lavori grandi, o matita e pennarello sui blocchi. Conoscevo gli effetti della poltrona sui vari tipi di supporti, addirittura anticipavo le sue preferenze, amava essere circondata da un fondo di smalto a mani corpose.
Lavorando sul medesimo disegno per mesi, mi accorsi della rapidità che avevo acquisito nel disegnare i dettagli a memoria.
Fu questa rapidità a farmi notare un particolare sul quale poi avrei impostato la serie dei cuscini.
Ritagliai su cartone la sagoma del cuscino perchè questo mi permetteva una più veloce esecuzione su tutti i supporti possibili. Le tele sul cuscino, o cuscino su poltrona, le realizzai in grossa parte a olio. Tracciato il vano della poltrona e collocavo il cuscino tramite la sagoma o ridisegnandolo a memoria.
Cominciai con una serie di omaggi, a Morandi (presi un articolo di Roberto Tassi su “Repubblica” sull’opera di Morandi e lo incollai su di una tela centrando con il cuscino la foto del quadro), a Rotella, a Fautrier e infine il cuscino di Tex Willer.
Marcello Gianvenuti, un fotografo mio amico, realizzò una serie di impronte fotografiche su tela della poltrona, una delle quali è stata poi dipinta da Mario Schifano.
New York, May 1977.
During my second stay in the Salehs’ house l went over again in rapid sequence all the objects I had drawn the three years previously, re-drawing the armchair from other point of view; but the new images were very different from before. Of the many portraits made in that period, “Portrait of a woman with cushion” (a drawing on a small pad, done with felt pen and paper torn from a periodical to symbolize a yellow brush-stoke), is the only image of Mary; a woman’s face with a cushion in the place of her mouth. I’ve always thought of using this portrait as the poster for the exhibition (Mary’s armchair 1974-1984).
Sabaudia, August 1977.
I arrived in Sabaudia with many canvases and a great number of tubes of acrylic paint. I worked on a whole series of landscape cushions: within the outline of the cushion (often isolated in the centre of pieces of paper which I then stuck on a canvas) I inserted views of the Circeo or landscapes taken from various points of view and recomposed, I took the oleander that appeared out of the bedroom window, the Circeo in the background with a series of small pink houses at the bottom. These buildings I had already inserted on other cushions. So with a work of landscape fragments I completed what I now call the Circeo series.
The ceramic cushion - Rifa, 1978.
After the cut-outs I decided to make a cushion model. I wanted it to be of medium size, I needed to make a composition with other objects, palettes, frames, vases to make a series of still lives with cushion (a title l was later to use for almost all the drawings l made). I took the plaster model to my ceramist friend, Matteo Rispoli, in Molina, a small place very close to Vietri. From Matteo’s furnace came a ceramic cushion, the creases barely outlined, four pieces well-modelled, stable enough to allow me to place it next to other objects. The most frequent combinations were the cushion and a palette. I made various drawings, water-colours, on the theme of still life with pillow, I combined the pillow with a whole series of different objects, sometimes with a single colour. Finally I decided to make one last composition, “cushion with palette” with picture frame and glass.
Tele e disegni, 1983
Catalogare, numerare, ricordare i pezzi, scartare, è un bel fare, ma ecco affacciarsi l’idea di chiudere la storia con “Le poltrone od olio”. Grandi distese di prati con torri-poltrone o ruderi-poltrone o poltrone-totem, o poltrone-scale per immaginarie vedette alla ricerca di paesaggi. E infine il suicidio della poltrona: una tela 30×40 raffigurante una poltrona che salta nel vuoto da un fantastico ultimo piano.