(...cont: "Our Roots are our Branches" by Guy Brett)

There is an innocence about his trees. They remind me of the early period of modernism when artists were seeking simplified signs that, it was felt, anyone could understand, transcultural images that could contribute to a universal visual language of communication. The example of children's art partly inspired this search which had a radical, subversive energy at the time (remember Picasso's remark: "It was easy for me to draw like Raphael but I had to learn to draw like a child"). There was also a practical need for such languages. Electrical circuitry, statistical analysis, molecular structure, mapping, 'finding your way', and so on - these required internationally standardised sing-languages (one of the earliest and most ambitious was the Isotype system of the 1920s designed by Otto Neurath). There was a convergence between the visual culture of science and art which was perhaps not fully perceived at the time.

If this could be described as a 'classic' period of his work, Giacomo has recently moved into the romantic, with a series of works based on the landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich. And the constructive, architectural role that the lean, winter-tree image (discretely ithyphallic, it may be noted) played in the earlier works has now become something more indeterminate and ambivalent. Basing himself in landscape as a powerful representational configuration, deeply lodged in the psyche, the new work conducts an unexpected transformation of its materials. This proceeds on three levels, three surfaces: the given unpainted wood grain as a transcription of graphic energy, the landscape image as conventionalised painted signs, and, by the artist's scraping away at the layers of plywood, the discovery of a chaotic, organic, a kind of protoplasmic material world below the surface. An element of violence is involved in revealing it, which contrasts strangely with the sublime vista of nature.


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