Simone Berti in Vitamin P, Phaidon Press Limited, London/New York, 2002.
To understand the implications and ideas of Simone Berti's paintings, it is perhaps useful to read them in the context of his other fields of interest, such as photography, video, sculpture, installations, and so on. In spite of their precise execution and apparent simplicity, his paintings are puzzling for the observer because of a certain discontinuity, incompleteness, and even a sense of absurdity. But it doesn't mean that his other works fill up this gaps and somehow complete the paintings. Quite the opposite; the multitude of media, approaches, forms, and ideas of Berti's works and project in fact intensifies the sense of insufficiency, lack of context, and, the absurd in his paintings. In one of his open-air installations, Berti has constructed a sort of bridge in the middle of a pond. This "bridge" does not fulfill its most elementary function, as it does not touch the shore at either end. It is not a link, means of crossing a river or a lake, but an object in its own right, while the pond is not an obstacle, the space between two banks to be crossed, but a concentrated field and the background of the bridge's figure. The parallelism between this Berti project and his painting is instructive. In his pictures, Berti places object and figures, painted in an illusionistic manner, on the white surface of his large canvases. The painted figures are thus isolated, taken out of a meaningful context, and engaged in a game of contradictions between the material surface of the canvas and a strong illusionist effect. (This tension between different orders of reality and systems of representations as reached a very minimal and basic formulation in the painting, which simply represents a square hole seemingly cut into the surface of the canvas). Just as the bridge standing in the middle of the pond evokes familiar ideas only to radically question and refuse them, figures and objects on Berti's canvases pervert observers anticipations by confronting them with an absurd, albeit impressive presence of a foreign body. Isolation, dislocation, contradiction, and absurd seem to be the strategies operating throughout Berti's paintings. We should perhaps understand these strategies not only as a play, but as an effort to rearrange the established relation and patterns of understanding and perception. For the established systems (which we take for granted), such rearrangements must certainly seem unusual or even absurd. It is even possible to see parallels between Berti's artistic strategies and contemporary scientist's search not so much for new facts but for different modals and conceptual system: "It is useful to know that before dedicating himself to art, Berti was a student of physics, always a highly creative and experimental discipline", notes Giacinto Di Pietrantonio. "It is not by chance that various scientists, such as Prigogine and Capra for example, have felt to move the theories of physics toward aesthetic theories in order to express and develop scientific research into the states of equilibrium of matter and the existence of the universe". In a sense, one could understand Berti's works as a materialization of such conceptual changes and, in the words of Di Pietrantonio, as "the image of new possible state".