The Weight of the Concrete
Ezio Gribaudo, in a scenography by Davide Stucchi
08/12/2023 - 02/03/2024, opening 07/12/2023, 18:00
The Weight of the Concrete marks the first monographic exhibition of Ezio Gribaudo (Turin, 1929-2022) in Austria. It serves as a comprehensive homage to his multifaceted career, offering an extensive exploration of his roles as both artist and publisher. The exhibition borrows its name from Il Peso del Concreto (1968), a seminal book that featured Gribaudo’s early graphic work alongside an anthology of concrete poetry edited by the poet Adriano Spatola. In line with his interdisciplinary approach, this exhibition explores Gribaudo’s idiosyncratic oeuvre, his poetics of matter, and the complex relationship he developed between image and language. Gribaudo’s work is then carried into the present by a scenography designed by the Italian artist Davide Stucchi. The exhibition is curated by Tom Engels and Lilou Vidal.
At the center of The Weight of the Concrete are the Logogrifi, Gribaudo’s emblematic series that he developed from the 1960s onward. Throughout his life, the Logogrifi have articulated a deep entanglement with his activities as a bookmaker, as well as his fascination for new industrial printing processes, typefaces, language games, and relief matrices. Grounded in linguistic or visual riddles, the Logogrifi are akin to logogriphs or puzzles that involve the formation of new words by permuting their initial letter. In Gribaudo’s interpretation, a Logogrifo oscillates between legibility and abstraction, at times verging toward readable forms and at others scaling the enigmatic world where image and language coalesce.
The Weight of the Concrete explores Gribaudo’s distinct poetic repertoire of forms—encompassing textual, figurative, and topographic elements, yet invariably disconnected from their provenance—which heralds the emergence of a new grammar and, consequently, novel forms of reading. Starting with achromatic embossments on blotting paper, transforming into wooden and polystyrene reliefs, and ultimately culminating in vividly chromatic pieces using typographic ink, the works persistently interrogate the ways in which form, language, and matter continue to shape and redefine one another. This transformation not only challenges traditional modalities of readership and perception, but also progressively slows down and intensifies the viewer’s experience, moving it from an exercise in deciphering the achromatic nature of the page to a vibrant and colorful encounter. This relentless experiment with printing technologies was sparked by his dedication to publishing artist monographs, featuring contemporaries such as Giorgio de Chirico, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Bacon, Lucio Fontana, Asger Jorn, and Wifredo Lam, as well as his interest in popular print formats like newspapers, dictionaries, atlases, and children’s books. To emphasize this non-hierarchical relationship between his artistic work and publishing activities, the exhibition’s final chapter presents a unique selection of Gribaudo’s rare publications and archival materials.
The Weight of the Concrete gathers these graphic and poetic operations with the support of Davide Stucchi’s spontaneous gestures and conceptual responses. Drawing from Stucchi’s longstanding practice of using ready-made objects and industrially produced materials, his scenography reflects a mutual fascination for the industrial reproduction and repurposing of standardized materials. Operating at the intersection of visual arts, design, fashion, and scenography, Stucchi’s interventions echo and amplify Gribaudo’s interdisciplinary body of work.
The Weight of the Concrete will be complemented by two namesake publications. The first, which will be released alongside the opening at Grazer Kunstverein, will showcase photographic excerpts from Gribaudo’s achromatic embossed Logogrifi books (1965-1972), uniquely complemented with an intervention by Stucchi. The second publication reflects the editorial premise of Gribaudo’s and Spatola’s Il Peso del Concreto (1968). It revisits and reimagines this publication and the archive of its making, pairing Gribaudo’s graphic work with a new selection of historic and contemporary concrete and experimental poetry. It will also include essays elucidating the interplay between language, matter, and their poetic interconnections. Published by Axis Axis and Grazer Kunstverein, it is scheduled for release in the summer of 2024.
The Weight of the Concrete will also feature a sound program, The Weight of the Tongue, which serves as a speculative prelude to the upcoming publication. Focusing on the vocalization of experimental poetry, the program will gather the voices of Tomaso Binga, CAConrad, Susan Howe and David Grubbs, Hanne Lippard, and Patrizia Vicinelli. Additionally, Katalin Ladik, Bryana Fritz, and Nat Marcus will contribute to the program and perform their work at the opening of the exhibition.
An additional public program, taking place in early 2024, will delve into the intrinsic relationship between concrete poetry, publishing, graphic design, typeface, feminism, and performative practices. Contributors to this program include Mónica de la Torre, Alex Balgiu, Andrea di Serego Alighieri, and others.
The public program and the publications are curated and edited by Tom Engels and Lilou Vidal.
EZIO GRIBAUDO (1929-2022, Italy) was an artist and art publisher based in Turin. Gribaudo’s work, notable for its fusion of figurative, textual, and topographical elements, was shaped by his expertise in typography, industrial printing, and publishing. He managed the Edizione d’Arte Fratelli Pozzo publishing house and was instrumental in the Le Grande Monografie series by Fabbri Editori, producing monographs on artists such as Karel Appel, Francis Bacon, Alberto Burri, Giorgio de Chirico, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Antoni Tàpies, among others. In collaboration with Michel Tapié, he contributed to the ICAR (International Center of Aesthetic Research) in 1960. Gribaudo was also committed to curatorial projects, such as the exhibition of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection at Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin, in 1976, and Jean Dubuffet’s exhibition-performance CouCou Bazar at Promotrice delle Belle Arti with FIAT in 1978.
Ezio Gribaudo’s artistic trajectory is characterized by a prolific exhibition history. His work has been featured in exhibitions both in Italy and internationally since the late 1950s and continues to be exhibited to this day. A small selection of solo exhibitions includes: Galleria d’Arte La Bussola, Turin (1959); Galleria Schwarz, Milan (1967/1972); Galleria la Bertesca, Genoa (1967); Galleria Viotti, Turin (1968); Galerie de France, Paris (1968); Kunstverein Göttingen (1971); Petit Palais, Musée d’Art Moderne, Geneva (1971); Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro (1973); Marlborough Graphics Gallery, London (1974); Galleria Michaud, Florence (1975); Etablissement d’en face, Brussels (2019); and Galerie Sans Titre, Paris (2022).
In addition, Gribaudo participated in significant exhibitions such as the 9th Rome Quadriennale (1965); the 33rd Venice Biennale (1966); Salon de Mai, Paris (1967); Salon de Mayo, Havana (1967); the 9th São Paulo Art Biennial (1967); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1967); GAM (Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna), Turin (1967); Salon de Mai, Paris (1968); Museum of Modern Art, Caracas (1968); The National Gallery, Prague (1969); the 8th International Exhibition of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (1969); the 10th Rome Quadriennale (1973); Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (1979); International Exhibition of Graphic Arts, Bilbao (1982); Grand Palais, Paris (1982); Castello di Rivoli, Rivoli (1986); the Italian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, Turin (2015); Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2016); Museo del Novecento, Milan (2017); GAM (Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna), Turin (2017); Pio Pico Gallery, Los Angeles (2020); and MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (2021).
DAVIDE STUCCHI (b. 1988, Italy) lives and works in Milan. He works at the intersection of visual art, fashion, advertising, scenography, and domesticity, exploring pre-existing materials through minimal gestures and interventions. With a conceptual and poetic approach, Stucchi creates installations and sculptures that reveal absent bodies and intimate stories through the tangibility and vulnerability of the objects. His recent solo exhibitions include Clin d’oeil, with Luisa Gardini, Ermes Ermes, Rome (2022); Falli (Phalluses), Martina Simeti, Milan (2021); DS, Deborah Schamoni, Munich (2020); 2546/9728, Sundogs, Paris (2019); Davide Stucchi con Corrado Levi, zazà, Naples (2019); and Light switch (Entrance), Gregor Staiger, Zurich (2019), among others. His work has been featured in group exhibitions at Mendes Wood DM, Paris (2023); Between Bridges, Berlin (2023); Palazzo Ducale, Genoa (2023); Marsèll, Milan (2022); Fitzpatrick Gallery, Paris (2021); MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (2020); the 17th Rome Quadriennale, Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Rome (2020); Stadtgalerie Bern (2020); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2018); Kunstverein Düsseldorf (2017); the 16th Rome Quadriennale, Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Rome (2016), among others. Since 2017, Stucchi has been active as a set designer for various fashion labels, culminating in his latest collaboration with Magliano since 2021.
The Weight of the Concrete is realized in collaboration with Museion—Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bolzano-Bozen, Italy, where it will be on view from March 23 to September 1, 2024, and with the Archivio Gribaudo in Turin, Italy.
The project is supported by the Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture under the Italian Council program (12th edition, 2023), which aims to promote Italian contemporary art worldwide.