Uno nove sette nove (One Nine Seven Nine)

Alighiero Boetti

Turin, Italy, 1940 - Rome, Italy, 1994
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Pen on paper and canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    Polyptych: 101 x 280 cm / Each part: 101 x 70 cm
  • Category: 
    Work on paper, Drawing
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

When he left the ranks of Arte Povera, Alighiero Boetti began to show more interest in the content and meaning of his works than in the materials used. Uno nove sette nove (One Nine Seven Nine) belongs to a series of pieces in which Boetti explored philosophical concepts such as time and order, distancing himself from conventional interpretations. For these works, Boetti used the most common of writing instruments: the pen. Interested in the role of chance and the unpredictable, and also in collaborative work, the author gave other people the task of completely covering the surface of the work with lines of ink.
Using alphabetical and grammatical signs, Boetti then made the work an inquiry into language, asking questions about perception and human cognition. The commas, which appear to be placed randomly, are assigned to the letters of the alphabet in horizontal lines and at different distances from their respective letters, which suggests the existence of a text that is but partially decoded. The questioning – by means of this linguistic play – of the conventionalisms of communication systems has the effect of involving the spectator in the construction of the language. The artist thus attempts to satisfy the desire to communicate – through the creation of a method based on signs, alphabetic and orthographic codes – and at the same time formulate new forms of visual, spatial and semantic expression.

Ruth Gallego Fernández