Opened yesterday at Tate Modern, and following on (conceptually, at the very least) from last week's post on the recent exhibition of new work by Gavin Turk, we have Alighiero Boetti. This venerable institution present a new show by the Italian, a master of the contemporary if ever there was one.
Boetti was a key member of the Arte Povera movement that was borne in Italy in the 1960s. Literally meaning 'poor art', the group of like-minded collaborators used everyday objects and materials to create works generally traditional in their own form, but that also functioned as political and social commentary. The influence of Arte Povera has been large and wide-reaching. Tate Modern have staged Arte Povera exhibitions twice since the turn of the millennium: First in 2001, then again in 2009. Serpentine Gallery's 2011 summer exhibition was of Boetti's compatriot and compadre, Michelangelo Pistoletto. Much of contemporary art has been affected by the movement, ranging from post-1960s conceptual art to the yBa's.
This exhibition is the first solo show by an artist working under the rubric of Arte Povera (though as soon as it was given a name Boetti began to distance himself from it) at Tate Modern. The work is rich and varied. There are conceptual self-portraits (including images made from concrete rocks, a photograph of the artist holding hands with himself, and a life-sized bronze statue which was paid homage to in the above exhibition, Gavin & Turk). Postcards and maps figure largely, as well as tapestry. As an art project, Boetti opened a hotel in Kabul in 1971. In his trips to Afghanistan he drew strongly on Peshawar textile and knitting. Each of these, mostly produced by local Afghan women, contains personal messages to the viewer in their own language. This is just one example, and representative of the magic and appeal of Boetti: His is a global landscape, derailing borders to reveal that human nature is, fundamentally, equal.
Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan is at Tate Modern until 27 May.