I think of him in certain cafés in certain darker margins, cafés of solid
wood, the paneling of two centuries ago, waiters seemingly almost as old,
and of course he is not outside, where daylight strikes the pavement towards
midday, he owns the most obscure, blackest corner, a thick carnet of ideas
ajotting. And I believe again in Joyce in Trieste, Gombrowicz in Buenos
Aires, Beckett in Paris or Lautréamont in Montevideo and I am thinking about
the artist who owns this fertile penumbra, I am thinking once more on the
ultimate mystery of Pietro Finelli. A mystery beyond any such alphabet.

No, not that there is anything inherently literary to Finelli¹s oeuvre,
instead this litany suggests the "silence, exile and cunning" which still
stands as one potential means of resistance. Resistance? Which artist today
can possibly resist, or want to resist, the omnivorous, homogenizing
pressure of our universal media-entertainment system, to fight the
recuperative Ospectacle¹?
Finelli is amongst the few willing to dodge and feint, duck and weave, box
his way past this enemy (an enemy so ubiquitous, well integrated, that most
artists have come to imagine it as friend instead), his tactics bantamweight
and fly-footed, fast and sure. For over the last two decades Finelli has
surely developed his own strategy, multi-form, many layered,
hyper-sophisticated, by which to navigate/ negotiate our current ocean of
image-culture, buck it.

Thus Finelli produces works in the widest possible variety of media, from
drawings and paintings, to sculpture, installation, unnamable objects,
pastels, video, text, murals, stone, not to mention commercial machines, the
curating of exhibitions, a grouping and rallying of certain aesthetics, an
army of plots.
The artist is also a poet, a writer of fiction, a creator of pure ideas as
much as images, a figure who branches and blossoms in the space between
others, a tree in its fecundity and ever spreading network of notions,
always budding again. So it is hardly surprising Finelli has produced a
whole series of works on volcanoes; like the volcano Finelli is adept at
lying dormant, biding his time, choosing a certain silence and stillness to
hide his hot protean energies.


One might well think of Raymond Roussel and the solemnity of his own
industrial and design activities, the building of his traveling mobile car
home, his theatrical innovations, whose actual intentions were so far from
their public reception. Like Roussel, Finelli is a practical inventor, a
variant of business executive or even global salesman, who believes that his
devices, his machines and sketches and schemes will make everything clearer
and easier for everyone else. And as with Roussel this attempt at
explication, at clarification, seems to just add bafflement, amusement and
The genius of both of them lies in the distance between their conception,
their own view of what they are doing, and its eventual confrontation with
the practical, everyday world. This ambiguity, this refusal of the many
banal limitations of assumèd reality suggests a true and potent human
freedom, sly reply to Gide¹s wise dictum that " Tyranny is the absence of

As with Roussel it is up to time, posterity, to judge Finelli¹s full
For the problem with Finelli¹s oeuvre, his Oproject¹ indeed, is that it can
hardly be guessed at merely by examining individual works. Not even a full
retrospective or representative sampling of his output (such as this current
exhibition) can capture the enormity and fecundity of this truly OFinellian¹
universe. Probably only on his demise, and with devoted scholarship and
research, will the structure and product of his entire system become
clearer. For the issue remains what Finelli intends or imagines his world to
make? How we can possibly Oread¹ at this stage of his career its ultimate


Finelli¹s practice is in fact one of the most densely theoretical currently
in operation, its grounding and structure entirely dependent on this frame
of theory. The core of the work is pure abstract philosophy, however its end
product, the flowers grown upon this rigorous trellis, may be lush and heady
and overpoweringly rich in their bouquet, betraying scant trace of their
In this way Finelli¹s active intellectual research might be compared to
those rigorous mathematical-physics programs whose published results are, by
no hazard, then termed Obeautiful¹ within the strict scientific sense of
that word.
(abstract from catalogue Broken images, where the sun beats, Napoli-Buenos Aires, 2005)