Giulio Paolini: To Be or Not to Be


In this exhibition Giulio Paolini raises many questions about artistic production. My main issue is that many of his works seem to rely on explicitly representing the artist or the viewer by either placing them directly on the canvass or by proxy (e.g. the back of a golden bust). As his questions are thereby made explicit, one has to wonder what the artwork is adding to the question beyond a merely stating it.

One case where he avoids doing this is Young Man Looking at Lorenzo Lotto, which is a reproduction of a painting, but he has changed the title to draw attention to the presence of the original painter. This works well, but then he ruins it in the next piece, Stand-in (A Critique of the Viewpoint), in which he replaces the eyes of the same image with his own. What exactly is the critique? The main question this exhibition seems to raise is whether contemporary art is a suitable way of engaging with theory at all.

Giulio Paolini: To Be or Not to Be is at the Whitechapel Gallery in London until the 14th of September, 2014

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