EL PIREO, GRECIA / PIREAS, GREECE, 1936-ROMA, ITALIA / ROME, ITALY, 2017
Sin título (Untitled), 1995
Bolsas de arpillera, granos de café, guisantes, alubias, maíz, lentejas y viga de acero / Steel base, Burlap sacks filled with coffee beans, peas; white beans, lentils, corn, and steel beam
100 x 300 x 60 cm Adquirido / Acquired 2012
This work contains numerous elements characteristic of Jannis Kounellis’s artistic vocabulary: burlap sacks, grains, and metal. Sacks of goods are tied to the idea of traditional maritime commerce while the beam may evoke train tracks or heavy industrial structures, all of which are constituents of the landscape of Peiraeus, the busy port district of Athens where the artist was born and raised. Although Kounellis left Greece at the age of twenty, the sights, smells and sensations of Peiraeus never left him, and have regularly resurfaced in his work. The use of everyday material is also typical of Arte Povera, a movement that Kounellis participated in since its inception, in the early 1960s. His use of the generic “Untitled” for all his works denotes a determination not to foreclose interpretation with crude literary or anecdotal readings.