Home Magazine Rethinking aletheia at SMDOT/Contemporary Art

This paper is not a critical text, it is not a press release in the traditional sense, it is not an introduction, nor does it intend to be an exhaustive philosophical essay on the concept of aletheia. It wants to describe the spatial and conceptual plane, or rather planes, within which to read “rt_0.aletheia”,the new art project by Marco Mendeni, exhibited for the first time at SMDOT/Contemporary Art in Udine.

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The planes that I will try to identify are open, with undefined contours, able to welcome, confront and intersect each other and others that can be identified and created by the viewer.

The word aletheia is an expression used by the Greeks to indicate the truth, but its semantic and lexical structure bears a different meaning compared to its Latin translation, the word veritas (Cicero).

This is not the place for etymological discussions, suffice to say that the literal translation of the Greek term is closer to the concept of truth in the sense of revelation, or possible better, disclosure. The term veritas, on the other hand, refers to something to be accepted because it conforms to an objective reality, not something to be revealed through a continuous movement towards knowledge. The expression used by the Greeks, aletheia, indicates an activity that is not easy to carry out, which leads to truth through revelation, a revelation made possible by not forgetting, by sincerity, by the search for justice, by means of a critical and complex analysis. Veritas, on the other hand, proves that a statement conforms to reality. Basically, while the Latin meaning is linked to the meaning of authority, the Greek one is linked to that of authoritativeness. This very brief analysis of the two terms is certainly not exhaustive and leads to other questions and insights, which we cannot dwell on here. It does, however show how it has always been difficult to define what truth is and above all how the two terms and the two ways of indicating truth, still exist in a state of contraposition in our contemporary world.

Marco Mendeni's work is part of a tradition of thought that believes Art, Beauty and Truth to be related, that takes a direction, takes sides, embraces research, continuous movement, complexity and the profundity of a truth, which is too often taken as a given and accepted superficially, mechanically.


Marco Mendeni, rt_ paesaggio_02, 2020


Marco has always been interested in technology, in the so-called new technologies, in new media, and how their evolution has changed our habits and ways of thinking. He is aware that technologies and their advancement have let us acquire new knowledge, they have given us new things, different realities, but he is just as interested in how many other things they have taken away from us. These works, exhibited for the first time in Udine are mostly small, medium and large pictorial works. They represent a rebellion against an invasive, constraining, dominating technology. A revolt, an act of disobedience, pointing out that something isn't working within a dominant system. A revolt towards and not against. A non-apocalyptic announcement against the dictatorship of technology, done with the aim of provoking a re-enchantment of technology by encouraging a use closer to people acting within the world. To do this he chooses to use the medium of painting. He chooses to be blind, to have as few rules as possible, to be dominated by the hand, the hand that sees before the eyes and that is in direct contact with the body, sensation, emotion, depth, memory, and the inside. 

The disclosure, the revelation, the state of not being hidden, in this case through painting. A painting that is gestural, passionate, arduous, organic and tragic. It is a painting which clashes - at the same time, on the same surface- with rigid, cold, apparently exact but always identical colours and signs of digital imaginary. A painting that is not afraid to investigate the mystery of that which is terrible and fascinating, seeking something between the sacred and the profane, some utter otherness. What to paint, how to do it and for what reason, these are the main questions that Mendeni tries to answer through this body of works. The answer he finds is a non-definitive one, an answer full of bifurcations, trying to shed a light into the darkness, showing us the need and the importance of regaining possession of our fundamental characteristic - that is of being and not merely functioning. The importance of technology is not denied: the lack of accuracy and correctness of technology is highlighted through painting, revealing it to be unable to represent the complexity of humanity and the world. Painting has been trying to do just that for millennia. It gets closer, that is to say, it is always in close contact with the body.


Marco Mendeni, rt_vr.Mayahuel_01, 2020


The body is probably the absent protagonist of this exhibition. This always happens in the visual arts, or at least it happens very often. The artworks are broken bodies. They are the presence of an absence. The artist is not there, he is only virtually present, through his signature, through the surfaces, the body of paintings, which intersects with the body of the viewer through eyesight. 

The titles “rt_particolare_01”, “rt_particolare_02”, could resemble the naming of a digital file, a system that is used for the names of all the works in the exhibition. In this case, as the title explicitly indicates, these are artworks representing two details. One work is organic, tragic and dramatic, painted on a panel; the other is digital and painted on canvas. These are details of something we will never be able to identify, but the details are revealed nonetheless.   “rt_livelli_02”, is a medium-sized canvas. it is framed with an old black wooden frame, here the hand, the painting, has tried to go deep, to dig, to bring to the surface and to change the point of view from dark to light. “rt_paesaggio”, and “rt_ shadow” are two small canvases that show us two digital landscapes. Landscapes are typically something natural, depicted thanks to the "filter" of the human hand.   "rt_ monsters_01" and "rt_ EYE_02", are two previously unseen videos. They represent the link with the world of technology but, despite using video as a medium, they do not lure us in with a plot, a beginning and an end. We are attracted by a flow of pictures, a flow of images, objects, monsters, memories, glances, and sounds. It is a ceaseless looking, looking at each other and being looked at from inside and outside, a relentless process of discovering and covering.

“rt_vr.Mayahuel_01” is a large canvas, inspired by Aztec mythology, in search of an origin, which is realized thanks to the gift of love, making the digital surface, marked with sacred symbols, into a mystical landscape.  

"rt_Paesaggio_02" is the last of the works in the exhibition. I chose it as the last one because it powerfully encapsulates this new research by Marco Mendeni. The power of the body, of that which is terrible, fascinating and organic, can re-appropriate that which is synthetic, simple, linear, and artificial through the means of the hand. A magmatic body that reveals complexity.


Marco Mendeni, rt_ shadow, 2021

Cover image: Marco Mendeni, rt_vr.Mayahuel_01, 2020

Written by Stefano Monti


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