This triptych was shown for the first time at the exhibition Enzo Cucchi Testa at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich in the summer of 1987. It later travelled to the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and the Galerie d’art contemporain in Nice, while Cucchi was taking part in Documenta 8 in Kassel, which he was attending for the second time. Cucchi’s main concern at the time he was preparing that exhibition was to find new and unusual materials for his paintings, so he decided to paint and draw on old theatre sets, with cement, or, as in this work, to use latex to create a diaphanous pictorial surface on which he could engrave, incorporate other materials like the iron plate, and apply subtle colour zones like large stains. Through such incorporation of new materials, he introduced into his painting an issue explored by sculpture over the preceding decades: the contrast between soft and hard materials, which could be addressed via the plastic results or through the host of emerging metaphors. As Helmut Friedel points out in the catalogue for the exhibition where the triptych was first shown, by applying additive techniques rooted in the idea of collage, Cucchi achieved an effect that he himself called galleggiante (Italian for ‘floating’) because of the way the various elements ‘floated’ on the pictorial support. On one of those old sets he had drawn a monumental foot, and in Gomes I, III, II he incorporates three large Roman numerals, which seem (somewhat tautologically) to affect the pictorial solution, which involves the serialisation of three elements, a feature inherent to the idea of a triptych. With their overwhelming magnificence, those numbers, executed in iron plate, contrast with a small square form made of latex that contains the same engraved image in each part of the triptych: a tiny figure that seems to be chasing its own shadow. The final result resembles a palimpsest: the various materials and ways of treating them are superimposed on one another; and, behind the apparent obviousness of the numerical series, the narrativity that appears in the painting—charged with a deliberate hermeticism by the artist—is progressively revealed when the character who wanders around the pictorial field appears.
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