Skip to Content

Point in time

Gallery: Federico Pietrella

 

For Italian artist Federico Pietrella, time is paramount. For about two decades, with canvas as his backdrop, he has used ink and rubber date stamps to conjure artworks out of thousands of numbers representing days, months, years. Gaze at his pieces from a distance, and you’d never guess the medium: a street scene, a portrait, a swath of nature all come across like fuzzy black-and-white photos. Is this digital art, you might wonder, the pixels part of the technique? Then you peer closer and realize that the Berlin-based artist uses the familiar office-supply object as his brush, deploying an everyday device to transform segments of space into a human form or an urban façade. The effect mimics pointillism while winking to the arc of time.

As he works, Pietrella uses the date of that particular day to progressively stamp his painting into existence. Seen up close, the layers and grids of dates overlap and construct beginnings, middles, and ends, much like the passage of life itself. Whether he takes two days or three months, his art becomes its own photorealistic chronometer, documenting the time elapsed in its creation. Time is a mysterious thing,” he once told an interviewer. “It’s the most important thing from which everything is derived — work, existence, life.
— Fiona Luis


Above: 
From 11 January to 19 February 2011.

Right:
Detail of From 11 January to 19 February 2011. Acrylic stamped on canvas, 180 cm × 280 cm. Courtesy MART, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento
e Rovereto, VAF-Stiftung Collection, Frankfurt/Main. Pietrella’s titles often correspond to the duration of the artwork’s creation; this piece was produced from January 11 to February 19, 2011.


Above:
British Midland, 2001. Date stamps with oil on canvas, 300 cm × 500 cm. Courtesy MART, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, VAF-Stiftung Collection, Frankfurt/Main. This older work is from a time before Pietrella added the range of dates in his titles.

Below:
Three views of From 22 to 29 April 2002. Date stamps with acrylic on wall, 140 cm × 110 cm. Courtesy the artist and Assab One, Milan.


Above: 
From 15 to 31 December 2014. Date stamps with oil on canvas, 180 cm × 180 cm. Courtesy the artist and Simon Breitbard Fine Arts, San Francisco.

Right:
Detail of From 26 April to 30 June 2015.

Below:
From 26 April to 30 June 2015. Date stamps with oil on canvas, 260 cm × 460 cm. Courtesy the artist. Installation view of the solo show L’ora del tè (Tea time) curated by Costantino D’Orazio, MACRO, Museum of Contemporary Art, Via Nizza, Rome.