“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering…”
H. D. Thoreau.
Abstractionism could well be called a particular form of sauntering. It is that special kind of freedom which allows the artist to navigate the surface s/he has chosen without having to pay mimetic tribute to the surrounding reality. Nonetheless, ever since Walter Benjamin’s Passages, that is, ever since the figure of the flâneur came to be codified, the act of sauntering has never implied the complete abandonment of a direction. Flânerie means exploration, the active observation of one’s environment; and in the same way, abstractionism aims to explore critically the pictorial surface in its two main existential dimensions: the physical – material, formal, technical, stylistic – and the metaphysical – imaginary, ideal, symbolic, internal. Yet what happens when these two types of sauntering coincide? And, above all, when can we say that they do coincide? The actions and creations of Eltono and Sten Lex are emblematic in this sense, since they both arise precisely from that curious mixture of street and sign vagabondage; both are abstract artists, but also artists of public urban space. Sten Lex apply to the urban skin an intriguing tattoo of formal and colouristic experimentation that ranges from the doodle to the optical, from black & white to the more recent – and novel – polychrome works. For Eltono, on the other hand, the city – in this case, Bari Vecchia – is the setting for a veritable flânerie, created by throwing a die, which the artist uses in order to decide which lane to go down and get lost in. The works exhibited here depict precisely these traces of the artist’s random walks. Even though the methods and outcomes are different, both approaches presented by the gallery seem to arise from a common need: to confound the material space of everyday urban practices with the mental and creative space of artistic experimentation.