"Although not quite sculptures, the artworks are definitely three-dimensional paintings," says London-based Italian artist Mauro Perucchetti of his latest solo exhibition Superfici, which will be held at Galerie 10 in St. Moritz, Switzerland from the 10th December 2021 to 27th Feb 2022.
Inspired by the wonders of nature, Perucchetti decided to name his exhibition Superfici (surfaces), as he admired the way in which Enrico Castellani manipulated surfaces to create his canvasses, thus challenging traditional perceptions of space. Perucchetti is also intrigued by the way in which undulating surfaces can alter spectators’ perceptions of his work. As the sunlight intensifies and mellows throughout the day, shadows move across the nature-inspired topography of Perucchetti’s pieces, meaning that the paintings’ surfaces are in a constant state of flux. Viewers can return to the same painting many times and notice something different each time.
Work on this series began at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. From the confines of his London home, Perucchetti found himself longing for the wonders of the natural world. “During the pandemic, I rediscovered nature in a new, deeper way,” Perucchetti comments. “I saw its beauty, the way it manifests itself with textures, colours and scents, and I made all of it abstract on canvas. Painting is intrinsically related to my emotions and experiences.” His controlled, bold use of primary colours and three-dimensional forms results in striking, questioning landscapes that toy with notions of movement and stasis.
As the pandemic continued, Perucchetti was filled with a sense that humanity itself could be the virus that had infected the planet. Superfici is an ode to nature and a reminder that climate change and overpopulation could threaten the world as we know it. “I also saw an analogy between what is happening to the population and what is happening to the earth,” Perucchetti told MoralModa Magazine in a recent interview.
For this series, Perucchetti used pigment, oil and mixed media, combining painting and sculpting techniques, to achieve textured three-dimensional surfaces. “The process revealed itself to be the perfect analogy for what occurs in nature. As Earth goes from one natural phenomenon to another, new life emerges,” Perucchetti explained.
This series encourages spectators to look beyond the surface levels presented and to consider the meaning behind the paintings’ abstract topographies. “I love abstract art, as it is art in its purest form,” states Perucchetti. “It is art completely devoid of any restrictions.”
Challenging the norms is part and parcel of Perucchetti’s work. His love of experimentation may also be connected to his varied career path, with his previous professions ranging from actor, architect and film producer, to designer. Perucchetti was never afraid of changing career or location. Born in Milan in 1949, Perucchetti became a film actor in his twenties. This career saw him starring alongside the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol in The Driver’s Seat (1974). Having gained experience in the film industry, Perucchetti then set up his own production company. Some years later, he then moved to London and began working in architecture and design, with one of his designs being featured in The London Car Show in 1992 at Earl’s Court in Kensington.
Since he began his career as an artist, which he embarked upon after selling both his home and his design and architectural practice in 2000, Perucchetti has gained a reputation for innovation. After experimenting with materials for some time, Perucchetti perfected the formula for his own resin and then patented it. What made his resin unique was the way in which its appearance changed in different lighting conditions. Art critic and curator Elspeth Moncrieff praised Perucchetti’s polyurethane resins, as the material is notoriously difficult to work with.
Resin has an innate instability and is even more difficult to control when foreign materials are embedded within it. Like prehistoric insects captured in the sticky ooze of the amber resin that killed them while preserving them, Perucchetti entraps his objects for all time. His work is totally beguiling. It is high-tech, of our time, bright, clean, and utterly original.
For Perucchetti, it is important to offer the spectator a multi-sensory experience that appeals to both the sense of sight and the sense of touch, but above all he is keen to provoke thought and deeper consideration of pressing global issues.
I wish I could be a politician to govern fairly, a religious leader to guide pragmatically and a powerful entrepreneur to serve as an example and inspiration to others, but I can’t. However, what I can do hopefully is create art that makes people think about global issues.
Over the years, his work has covered a number of political themes, ranging from LGBTQIA+ rights, consumerism, the manipulation of religion, cloning, medical ethics, addiction, and more recently, climate change.
Superfici is Perucchetti’s way of professing his love for the natural world, while simultaneously reaffirming his desire to use his artistic talent to reignite people’s appreciation of the environment. He also hopes to instill spectators with a sense of urgency that everybody needs to do their bit to protect the planet before it is too late. The sense of movement conveyed in the Superfici series tells a story of a world in motion — damage has been done and continues to be done, despite the awe-inspiring beauty of nature.
We, the people, can change that narrative. “Addressing climate change is crucial now more than ever,” Perucchetti says. Seeing the erosion of coral reefs, the impact of volcanic eruptions, the devastation caused by deforestation and wildfires, Perucchetti turned to the canvas in an appeal to humanity to begin respecting the planet again.
Superfici is an immersive, sensory experience that was created by a man who describes being in a natural setting as his personal “heaven on earth.” This love can be seen on the canvas and will be felt by anyone who takes a moment to stop and take a closer look at Perucchetti’s work. In many ways, it is that moment of wonder — that moment of paralysis — that leads to reflection. And when we are still, we allow nature to reassume its natural rhythms. And as Perucchetti’s work reminds everyone, with or without us, the surface of the earth will continue to be warmed by the sunlight and have its grassy fields ruffled by the wind.