The Michael Janssen Gallery is pleased to host the first comprehensive solo exhibition of Gianfranco Baruchello (*1924) in Berlin.

The extensive and complex oevre of the 85 year old Italian artist goes back to the 60’s. The Berlin exhibition focuses on work from the last twenty years. The Michael Janssen gallery shows paintings and drawings from 2007 to 2009, his ‘showcases’ from the 70’s up to today and a retrospective selection of his films. An installation, the especially for the gallery space developed garden represents an essential part of the exhibition for Baruchello.

The key work of the exhibition is a showcase consisting of eight smaller boxes that are joined together. It bears the title La formule, or ‘The Formula’, after which the entire exhibition is named. The assemblages or ‘showcases’ are an important part of Baruchello’s artistic expression. He assembles cutouts and small objects such as toy cars, coins or silverware in boxes made of wood and Plexiglas. He often combines clippings from magazines with self-painted paper cutouts, creating showcases that offer the viewer a glimpse into another filigree universe.

This idea of the formula is crystallized in a recent interview with Maurizio Cattelan, as well as in Baruchello’s extensive published writings. Baruchello believes to have found a formula, in accordance with which his art always functions. His sources of inspiration were never pictorial or visual art, but originate from the written word, from literature. On the one hand it was German philosophy of the 18th Century, with Hegel and Kant, on the other, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Yet Baruchello was clearly influenced by visual artists, most decisively by Marcel Duchamp. The two were good friends in Paris and Baruchello often dedicated works and essays to him.

Baruchello’s paintings of the last years are spread with microscopic elements which seem like animal tracks, maps or maybe instruction manuals of some sort. The paintings give the deceiving impression to be ‘readable’. Baruchello’s painting has changed and developed over time. In the 60s he created colorful, abstract and freely composed images. In the 80s the motives become denser, and are very carefully and precisely structured, representing figurative subjects. The next phase, which can also be seen in the current images, sees a more radical exploitation of surface.

In another room of the gallery grow poisonous plants. This installation developed by the artist reflects his playful, experimental and at the same time provocative nature. The installation is entitled Poison, Danger!. On one hand it is meant to amuse people, but also to show them how quickly their lives can be threatened by – often pretty and harmless looking – plants.

One last important part of Baruchello’s oeuvre are his videos and films. Michael Janssen gallery shows a selection of from very poetic, animated, black and white pictures in the 1960s, to the narrative, colorful and sometimes demanding compositions of recent times.

Gianfranco Baruchello (*1924 in Livorno) lives and works in Rome and Paris. His work has appeared in many individual and group exhibitions since the 1960s. In 1977 he was invited to Documenta 6 in Kassel and in 2008 he took part in his last major group exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice ( ‘Italics’, curated by Francesco Bonami). His numerous solo exhibitions have primarily been held in Italy. Occasionally, his work has been shown in Munich (1971, Galerie Buchholz, 1975, Lenbachhaus, 1998/2005, Galerie Michael Hasenclever), Paris (1967, Yvon Lambert, 1982, Galerie Le Dessin, 1993, Galerie Krief) and Brussels (1967, Palais des Beaux Arts, 2006, Galerie Greta Meert).