‘Antonio Trotta’. Catalogue essay.

The following piece was commissioned by Like a Little Disaster in August 2016 for an exhibition catalogue on the Italian-Argentinian artist Antonio Trotta. The project called for a short, poetic response to the use of light in work that the artist made for and around the time of the Venice Biennale in 1968.

The publication will accompany an exhibition in 2017 of Trotta’s work, and will collect documentation of works and texts on the artist, including contributions from Marco Senaldi and Lea Vergine. L.A.L.D has been commissioned to manage Antonio Trotta’s archive, and will establish a foundation dedicated to the artist. The foundation will enable L.A.L.D to develop challenging new projects with international artists.


I = Light.

The visible reminder of Invisible Light.’ [i]

The radiating lexical constellations of Antonio Trotta are causally aligned to the sentiment described by Albert Einstein; that our age is marked by a perfection of means and a confusion of aims. The way has never been so well lit, and with our eyes rocking around the clock who cares where it’s leading? The starry night, the universal map guiding the conquests of cell and soul, has been harnessed and resurrected at street level and it is tapping the cosmic deity for some small change. No more the bigger picture, no more Jupiter’s symphony piercing our ears, these siren-esque stars stub your toes when you wander too close to the edge of the curb. Today’s light shows us the way, and then shows us the way again in a different size with up to 40% off its price. We avid and indiscriminate collectors of fake dawns, in our clumsy reverence, derail the starry dot to dot that spells destiny, peeling each spot from the evening’s astral page and framing it in isolated salutation; cars, homes, streets, signs, spheres, ovals, strips, rectangles, lacy UFOs, electromagnetic birthday cakes, luminescent geoglyphs burnt into the deepest seams and virgin pages of the mind’s white marble. These myriad co-ordinations of light and orchestrations of mood are amassed in a fractured catalogue of intense spasms without repose, in a destiny that lies not in the stars but around the eternally recurring street corner, a portrait of a world unfurling along a neon meridian with no anchor or axis.


The starry night, the universal map guiding the conquests of cell and soul, has been harnessed and resurrected at street level and it is tapping the cosmic deity for some small change.


And yet, these are countries illuminated by the luminous licence of obliterated idols. If we dim the lights on Oscar Wilde’s line, ‘we are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’, it could read, ‘we are all of us stars but some of us are looking at the gutter’. Lost in a labyrinth of artifice and discord Henry Miller’s ‘serene and remote’ stars illuminate such a spot:

‘Who are you, young man, to be talking of the earth, of blowing things to smithereens? We have seen it all, everything, and we still shine peacefully every night, we light the way, we still the heart. Look around you, young man, see how still and beautiful everything is. Do you see, even the garbage lying in the gutter looks beautiful in this light. Pick up the cabbage leaf, hold it gently in your hand. I bend down and pick up the cabbage leaf lying in the gutter. It looks absolutely new to me, a whole universe in itself. I break a little piece off and examine it. Still a universe. Still unspeakably beautiful and mysterious. I am almost ashamed to throw it back in the gutter. I bend down and deposit it gently with the other refuse’. [ii]

This discerning collector is an attentive celebration of details and difference, of the particular in the general, of personal projection in the referential chain.

In Trotta’s modern portraits of the mythology of light and the metaphysical movement of our shadows to this plain of flood-lit multiplicity, are we star gazers or navel gazing? In this stellar soup are there too many cooks, amidst these orbs and spheres of steroidal renaissance light, is the glass half full or half empty, do you see punctured darkness or embattled light, or only the poetry of movement creating the illusion of truth and drama?


[i] T.S.Eliot, Choruses from The Rock
[ii] Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn

OneColonna di Luce (Column of light), 1972 and La finestra su vetro (The window on glass),1973

FourColonna di Luce (Column of light), 1972

ThreeDoppio tempo (Double Time), 1973

SevenPaquete Especial, (Special package), 1967





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