Thursday, 27 January 2011

Maurizio Anzeri

Who would have thought there was a way to make String Art interesting and relevant in this day and age? There was an era in the Seventies when nearly every house had some sort of geometric wall-hanging made from string or thread - endless repeated lines overlaid on fabric panels. Thankfully, they seemed to disappear from walls around the mid-Eighties as tastes changed. Italian artist Maurizio Anzeri uses this retro technique in his work, painstakingly embroidering intricate shapes over found vintage photographs, creating haunting and disturbing 'portraits'. The vintage prints only add to the other-worldliness of the images.
Talking about his work, Anzeri says "Photographs from the 40s and 50s have a totally different quality from photos we’re used to today. We don’t recognise them as photographs now, they really look like watercolours or drawings. I’ve been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression. I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will."
The way Anzeri re-appropriates vintage photos is not dissimilar to John Stezaker's work, and there are echoes (but none of the torment) of the singular vision of Francis Bacon with the weird distortion and blur of the subjects, but he has found an interesting way of making a photograph - something usually associated with numbered print-runs and editions - into a singular, fascinating object.

Priscilla, 1940, 2008

Edward, 1943, 2009

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Zelda, 1941, 2009

Round Midnight, 2009

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Penny, 2009

Giovanni, 2009

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All images © Maurizio Anzeri

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