Tuesday, April 2, 2019
6 – 8 pm
exhibitionFrom April 3, 2019
“Sir Lawrence Dundas and his grandson, here and now posing in my work, were already and will always be posing in the paintings of the room depicted by Zoffany.”
Giulio Paolini’s Sir Lawrence Dundas and His Grandson (1977) is based on a photographic reproduction of a namesake painting executed by German artist Johann Zoffany (1733-1810) in c. 1769. The work depicts the Scottish politician and businessman Lawrence Dundas, 1st baronet (1710-1781) with his grandson, sitting in his library surrounded by his collection of Dutch paintings.
Through an estranging photomontage, Paolini has replaced the canvases hanging in Dundas’ library with the image of Zoffany’s work, which is repeated eight times. The single image, which the eye tries to capture, vanishes in the long series of its reproductions, originating a temporal paradox of an immortal time, which turns an infinitesimal instant into eternity.
Sir Lawrence Dundas and His Grandson exemplifies Paolini’s investigation into the fallibility of the visual language. The repetition of the image within the image deprives Zoffany’s painting of its own identity, conceived as the irreplaceable uniqueness of the work of art. By reproducing the painting within the frames of other masters’ works, Paolini seems to suggest that different artists have come to produce the same image. The usual subject-author-viewer relationship is therefore altered, depriving the original work of its function as vehicle of meaning.