Fondazione Antonio Ratti

Matt Mullican

The Meaning of Things

6 July–6 September 2013
Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti

The exhibition revolved around Untitled, a set of four banners made by Mullican for his solo exhibition at Le Magasin, Grenoble (1990), and then showed only once more due to the large size of each element. The banners showed a repertoire of stylized figures that, following a code elaborated by the artist, summarized key aspects of reality and human experience. The symbols were divided into five areas: red (subjective understanding), black (language), yellow (arts), blue (the real world as life and meaning, that we experience without being aware), green (physical elements). The visual language of the banners was extremely immediate, similar to that of commercial logos, urban signage, or heraldry a comparison that felt very appropriate given the setting in which the work was exhibited. Simultaneously, the meaning of the symbols, and the system they form required the viewer to develop an understanding of the code elaborated by the artist.

The first banner, which was red, was the part of the system that the artist calls "cosmology" and that comprehended symbols that represented "God", "Paradise", "Hell", "Fate", etc. However, as Mullican never grows tired of repeating, his cosmology is, in reality, a meta-cosmology, an artistic reflection about the way we collectively construct an image from reality: "My cosmology is a model for a cosmology; it is not a cosmology. A cosmology is a social phenomenon, not a formal one; it is a belief structure, a value structure between people". A structure as much as that of the Christian religion, for instance, that determined the architecture of the building of San Francesco church. The exhibition was completed by some works (comprising of a series of prints displayed on tables and in cabinets) which offered the public some additional tools to interpret the complex "system of systems" invented by the artist.

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