‘Anthropy' may be defined as the science of human action on nature. With this premise, we might say that a large part of art is anthropic: it is enough to consider the three traditional major subdivi- sions of painting – landscape, still life, and figure painting – to understand that at least two-thirds of any image, and indeed of any notion about the image, has to do with the relationship of the image with what we call ‘nature'. One might object that those traditional divisions no longer apply, but in point of fact they return even today in sundry guises, quite simply because the spectrum of the languages of art has broadened and the tools for investigating and relating to nature are greater in number.
This exhibition is a patent example: to what are these six artists speaking – six artists whose end results and formalisations differ so widely – if not this relationship, this ‘action of man on nature'? Certainly, the first ‘action of man on nature' is his scrutiny of it, and the artist may easily stop at restitution of what he sees; that is, at traditional representation of nature, mimesis. For example, this is exactly what Massimo Vitali's photographs do: they show how the relationship between man and nature is defined moment by moment, even unconsciously; for example, by his bathers, who are certainly not aware that with their mere presence they are changing the look and perhaps even the sense of nature.
Donald Sultan also appears, by rights and by his own volition, in the roll of artists who have painted nature: he relies on the culture of the image, a culture which has subsided over the course of the centuries but still supports the artist as he paints a bouquet of flowers strong with all the infinite variations on a theme permitted him by the language of art.
And all things considered, Jacob Hashimoto also fits into this category of representation, even though he uses infinitely more ‘mimetic' materials: his grasses seem to be – or are, it matters little – real blades of grass inserted into the work; as such, they further whittle away at the border area between reality and the reality of the work, between presentation and representation.
Nevertheless, the concept of mimesis of nature may not refer only to imitation of the visible form or to representation of a ‘fixed' moment, a precise developmental instant of a natural phenomenon, but may go beyond in search of possibilities extending to the concept of ‘becoming', an essential for any living thing (and the nature we imagine is never the inorganic, which may act at most as background, but always the organic): just as the concept of ‘nature' – so deeply-rooted in the traditional art forms – has been transformed in the recent languages of art, the concept of mimesis has also changed and reminds us – as did Theodor Adorno in his university lessons – that the meaning of a definition or a term can change over time, and change radically.
With Mikala Dwyer and Alessandro Brighetti, despite the fact that they make use of very different tools, we enter into that branch of expression in which art is still understood as mimesis but in which mimesis concerns not so much the forms of nature – but it does, also, concern them – as its processes. Both, each in a different manner, insert the time factor into their works: in visible form, in Brighetti's videos, and in conceptual – but real – form in Dwyer, who stages suspended plants, true living organisms which are born, live, die. Both reproduce the natural process, imitating it (Brighetti) or forcing it, highlighting it (Dwyer).
Roberto Pugliese, finally, digs into nature in search of secrets capable of explaining man's stances and attitudes. Sound is his fil rouge and the artist looks for it where no one would think of finding it – or where no one, through sheer inattentiveness, hears it. Pugliese seems to bend nature to his obsession, an obsession so strong that it succeeds in eliciting a response.