Saturday, August 08, 2009


This is the last of my short series of posts about contemporary landscape drawing, based on Phaidon's Vitamin D survey.  Serse, in addition to being one of my wife's favourite operas, is the name of an Italian artist whose sea, forest and mountainscapes are all drawn by a process of erasure.  He works from photographs, covering a sheet of paper with base of graphite and then working on it with an eraser to reproduce the image.  Writing ten years ago in the New York Times, Grace Glueck concluded that 'at this point the artist's technical virtuosity is more impressive than his esthetic achievement.'  But in Vitamin D, Barbara MacAdam finds much to admire: 'the drawings end up having more depth and intensity than actual photographs.  The artist uses graphite not only to depict or imitate nature, but also to imitate a photograph.  In so doing he achieves a strange conceptual distance from his original source, which is often a color photo.' Whether or not copying photographs in this way can create a 'strange conceptual distance', it's true that some of his views have a strange feel to them, like Vertigini (Dizziness) (1999) which shows a mountain range with two separate vanishing points.

In her description of Serse's drawings, Barbara MacAdam draws links with quite a range of other artists - Hiroshi Sugimoto, Robert Longo, Robert Smithson, Jean Dubuffet and Edvard Munch. One could add to this list Caspar David Friedrich and Giorgio Morandi, mentioned in another short piece on Serse to accompany an exhibition at the Tim Van Laere gallery in Antwerp.  But Serse was a new name for me on reading Vitamin D and I can't see much about him online (at least not in English).  And if you google for images by Serse (or Serse Roma, to use his full name) you're actually most likely to hit upon these Freddo glasses which he has designed for Illy, with undulating waves of silver inspired by the sea at Trieste.

No comments: