Italia-Grecia, una faccia una razza

Avanguardie artistiche e tradizioni a cura di Katerina Giannaki e Fabio Milani

Abate | Kounellis, trip at the end of a photograph

by Nicola Davide Angerame


Everything began in 1969 in that garage that Fabio continued to call the gallery, with that Greek who came to Rome, Jannis, who wanted to make living sculptures and with that boyfriend, Claudio, who grew up in Via Margutta and was looking for new art. Their first photograph together they make it there, it will be called Horses and will travel around the world, changing the history of art.

Boys who, growing up, have become pillars of Italian and international art history. They took parallel paths and remained friends, collaborators and actors on a magnificent and eternal stage.

Fabio Sargentini continued his career as a gallerist and talent scout. Claudio Abate has become one of the most recognized art photographers: the Kounellis Horses or the Zodiac of De Dominicis have travelled around the world, they are in all the stories of contemporary art in all countries. Claudio loved to receive the rights of those photos, they were for him the tangible sign of a goal achieved, the simple certification of immortality.

Jannis Kounellis has become one of the most intense artists of the post-war period, founder of a poor and reflective art, mindful and moved, idealistic and heavy material. An art that his friend Claudio has often photographed, doubling its aesthetic strength and certainly building essential documents. Installations and performances needed him and his way of photographing the world as if it were a theatre, the theatre he had met with Carmelo Bene and in the cellars of the early sixties and that had led him to photograph living actions, site-specific works and ephemeral presences, phenomena that needed an invaghitous yet lucid look, a lively capacity to interpret and show through the lens the substance and

The friendship between this Roman and Athenian man lasted for half a century. They were both tireless workers and some of his last shots Claudio had made them for Jannis's great installation in the little church of Trastevere transformed into an art gallery by Gavin Brown. One of the last shots that instead sees them together as subjects captured in flagrant friendship rather than as hidden creators, is precisely this image stolen by his friend Fabio Milani, tireless witness of a multi-dimensional Rome as well as reporters of dinners and memories that Claudio loved to share with us in front of a whisky, in the beloved neighborhood of San Lorenzo, near places of memory dear to him like the restaurant Pommid

In this photo, taken at the vernissage of Claudio's solo exhibition in the H. H. Lim gallery, there are the last moments of a journey together that lasted fifty years. Jannis had given Claudio a bar counter: a romantic and ironic object, as Claudio was at the end, made of courtesy and wooden pipes. On that counter were the parties held in the basement of his studio. The two friends disappeared only six months after each other: on 16 February Jannis and 4 August Claudio. I don't think it's a coincidence, so traveling like this, I travel so far into life, they only make them similar souls like this Roman and this Greek....