”Untitled”, (Mai in Naples), 2003

I despise floors. They shouldn’t exist. Apartments and houses should instead have “levels,” different plateaus that you can move up and down by pushing a button. People should always be suspended when they are inside a room. They should be floating between objects; their feet should never touch the ground. This would accentuate the “artificiality” of everyday life and ultimately brings us closer to the “true” nature of things.

I also dislike wooden - parquet – floors, that “natural” blonde color of wood. In a painting, floors should always be painted gray because gray is an abstraction.
I would have never paint a picture with a blonde parquet floor nor would I paint the details on a kimono or make a carpet look exactly like a carpet. I wouldn’t paint anything to look exactly as it looks because painting is meant to represent things in a way
that they aren’t normally perceived.
“A pipe is not a pipe,” Magritte wrote over one of his paintings.
That was not necessary to say, a pipe is an object and a painting is a ghost: how can a ghost be an object?

But paintings become objects and there is nothing to prevent this. There are three evolutionary steps for a painting: first they are abstract ghosts, then they become illustrations and finally they become Reality. Magritte’s Pipe is not a Pipe but it’s not even just a painting anymore. That picture belongs now to a
new category of objects, that picture is a “Magritte”.

An artist can’t hold any copyright to Reality, it would be stupid, because then he would have to accept that Reality is a fact that is beyond his interpretation of it and that would put a barrier to his creative freedom.

Therefore, my images-which are doomed to become Reality- they are copyright free. They can be captured, represented, and painted again by other artists.
So when Gabriele Di Matteo, an Italian artist from Naples who I admire, asked me to make a show in his gallery with my paintings painted by him, I accepted.
Nothing wrong with that I thought, Gabriele would function as my assistants did in the past and the canvases will be “original” Manetas. But my psychoanalyst in New York didn’t agree. “He is an artist and an important one,” she said. The art will be his.
I accepted her point and I proposed to Di Matteo that he make his own exhibition. I would give him the digital pictures that I am using and I would even go to the show to pose as a living sculpture for him.

Finally, for different reasons, I couldn’t go so they invited Mai Ueda - the model for my paintings- to Naples. Di Matteo’s paintings came out “pretty.” So pretty, that I wouldn’t have the courage to turn the realistically painted blonde-parquet to a flat gray surface.

Or maybe I would, I don’t know. These works don’t belong to me; they are signed by a different artist. It would be nice though, if one of my collectors would buy a piece. Then I could go to his house and ask him if I can “correct” some details and change them completely. I would be the first painter to restore his own
art before it has even been damaged! Or would it be a vandalism of the art of Gabriele Di Matteo?

Miltos Manetas, April 2003