”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
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