Pippo Lionni on Caszuidas screen, Amsterdam.

To start this new-year, Videospread is pleased to present Pippo Lionni’s solo show “Re-animation”. The programme will be launched in January 2010 and screened for one year.



-Text by Sarah Carrière-Chardon-


Pippo Lionni has been showing his « Facts of Life » series since 1998. Whatever the medium, a collection of small fluorescent booklets, installations in art galleries, prints and animations, he operates a shift in the use of pictograms, bringing them to life through a critical satire of our social existence. By means of an unceasing narrative and playful coming and going, his use of animation offers a new level of comprehension. « I usually work on site specific installations modulating the temporality of confrontation in a given context. I use animation as a means to play with the duality between the abstract and figurative. From a distance one perceives a visual dynamic of moving forms; when up close, one deciphers the autonomous life cycle of the symbols, dependent on random, combinational and organic algorithms. This time/distance relation confers a new dimension to the « Facts of Life » series. With animation, one always wonders, « what is next? » says Lionni.


What else can these pictograms reveal? As a universal and normalized form of language, they land mark our daily life – to be perceived and understood by all without ambiguity. Representing the power of symbolic language, they are a schematic graphical representation, a stylized figurative drawing, functioning like a written sign language, which cannot be transcribed into oral language. Usually used in public signage, they are an alternative to multilingual text to describe a situation, to prescribe a particular behaviour or indicate potential danger. These symbols are published in the « Journal Officiel *» as regulation. This visual language, which normally contributes to pragmatic submissiveness, is suddenly disrupted and makes apparent “the obvious” through carefully chosen stereotypes, and thus addresses diversity and enigma. As a graphic and industrial Designer, Pippo Lionni masters the tools and methods of communication in the framework of commissioned projects. As an Artist, Lionni plays with these tools and creates his body of work as a parallel universe, populated with signs and shapes and articulated by a two layered grammar, which cleverly takes us into his own repertoire of semiotics by a mirror effect.


Pippo Lionni scores a bull’s eye with the screening in Amsterdam, as his work finds its way back to the general public. Beyond moving the exhibition into a non-art context, the selection of Lionni’s 8 animations could well make everything tip-over. The Artist has his back against the wall. Which of the two will take over, the graphic Designer or the visual Arts Artist? Re-animation… to be re-animated is to be between life and death, at the doors of the purgatory, asking for a second chance, a second life. These animations are subject to traditional commercial programming, to the randomness of passers-by, to the uncertainty of life. If placed in the usual exhibition spaces of Contemporary Art, the shift would happen naturally, but confronted to public space, ambiguity shows its face… Finally! To the duality of his nature of being both a visual Artist and a graphic Designer, echoes a dialectic which confronts abstraction and figuration, macro and microcosm, identity and otherness, innate and acquired, passivity and activism, determinism and free will, commissioned and freely created work… Following the example of Hegel for whom “something is living insofar as it contains contradiction, which provides it with self-movement », Lionni is somewhat provocative, using the opponent’s weapons to destroy an undetermined, « thus perverted » thought generating bomb. Operating as an anti- propaganda act at the heart of the city, this Re-animation makes the political beat of his Art even stronger.


Whilst playing with the reversible aspect of images and the polysemy of these “ready-made” codes, he calls for introspection, for an ode to human condition and places himself as an Artist of truth –may it be Hegelian-, in the form of a cerebral pirouette. Not so distant from Street Art motivations and objectives, Pippo Lionni calls out to “Find the truth that lies within our-selves!”


*Bulletin giving details of laws and official announcements.