It often happens that street artists feel the need, at a certain point in their artistic journey, to move from the wall medium to canvas, from the street to exhibition spaces. The same happens for Wildstyler Rae Martini (1976), probably the youngest of the Italian writers, who after twelve years of artistic activity in the urban context, transfers his art to canvas, blurring into material informal and taking his works to numerous galleries. The Milan-based artist will open tomorrow, May 9, 2023, his solo exhibition “Tempoforma” curated by Ilaria Bignotti, at the Federico Rui Contemporanea gallery, presenting his twelve unpublished works dedicated to two cycles of works: the “Modulari” and the “Sistemi di interazione”.
Rae Martini’s artistic history is articulate, particularly evolutionary and always consistent. His long practice of street bombing preponderantly influenced the new Italian school, to the point of being recognized worldwide and admitted into some of New York’s historic crews. Martini devoted special attention to lettering, crucial to his career because it marked the first transition to canvas and thus to a painterly approach. His artistic work often coincides with and is supported by theoretical work, to which he devotes a great deal of attention, so much so that he spends several written words conceiving it. His research focuses on language and time, procedural and formal elements that are the result of a 30-year production. The artist himself explains the importance of the word, and therefore of lettering, associated with the concept of time, with a particular reference to his new works : “starting from the letter, then back to the structure, then back to the word, up to the sign, the (urban) surface, the sign of time, time itself and its flow. In the current Modulari the concept of temporal succession and its manifestation dominates.“
Rae Martini’s works presented today show, on the one hand, a connection to her past and, on the other, a desire to keep track of human and collective stories, words, and events. His works are “lived and survived,” harking back to a distant past, to when the artist spent his days in the workshop with his father, “among tools, paints and cars, there was some heart, passion and also a lot of loneliness… Today I translate those feelings belonging to my childhood into a kind of “fog” or “dust” that envelops the surface of my works,” says the artist.
Martini’s material works are in fact made up of papers from centuries-old books, pages of other people’s stories that are burned and superimposed, interwoven and juxtaposed, leaving only the intangible soul of the written word, sometimes perceptible with sight other times only with the mind. In fact, the selection that the artist makes is not so much about content but is rather driven by a fascination with the material that shows wear and tear and contains a lived experience. After the selection, Martini moves on to the compositional process, which involves gluing the pages together according to a logic of visual pattern – modular in fact – which he subsequently burns in “a violent and vigilant act.”
“The paper they are made of reacts to fire with great dignity. Modern paper burns quickly, it is fragile. The old one resists, almost as if defending itself…. The heat liquefies the ink printed on the pages, which in places transfers to the canvas as if that text wants to survive in a new form, stamping itself to new life spontaneously, like a memory that refuses to disappear. The word is transferred from the page to the canvas and remains imprinted in places in the surface of the painting, barely visible but present, almost resigned to no longer being a protagonist but always charged with dignity.“
The exhibition “Tempoforma” is on view until June 30, 2023 at Federico Rui Arte Contemporanea, Via Turati 38, Milan.