Mimmo Paladino

Pool Water


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Mimmo Paladino born 1948
Original title
Acqua di stagno
Etching, aquatint and drypoint on paper
Image: 572 × 895 mm
Purchased 1982

Catalogue entry

P07630 Pool Water 1980 [P07630, P07631, P07854]

Etching with aquatint, drypoint, spitbite and sugarlift 22 1/2×35 1/4 (572 × 895) on paper watermarked ‘ARCHES’, printed by Aeropress, New York and published by Multiples Inc., New York
Inscribed ‘Mimmo Paladino 1980’ b.r. and ‘10/35’; impressed with the printer's and publisher's stamps
Purchased from Waddington Graphics (Grant-in-Aid) 1982

The following entry is based upon statements made by the artist in a letter of 29 April 1986:

P07631 depicts a man asleep while ‘the shadow’ of an animal ‘passes away’. The title of the work in Italian is ‘Pietra di Pietro’ in which the similarity between the two principal words is intentional. The artist has written that ‘in the Christian story Christ told Peter that [Peter] would be the rock [la pietra] upon which the Christian church would be founded. Therefore all of this is like a metaphor between what is involved in the act of becoming and the linguistic coincidences in the Italian language.’ The shape of the plate is irregular and was deliberately cut to resemble the shape of a stone or rock. The red line at the right hand edge of the plate is ‘a signal - an alarm’. Paladino states that he generally thinks of his titles after he has completed the work.

P07630 depicts a head and a container of liquid set in a generalised landscape. The title of P07630 in Italian is ‘Acqua di Stagno’ which is ambiguous, for ‘stagno’ means both pool and tin. The artist states that since both meanings may be inferred in Italian the interpretation of the image may be modified by ‘the circumstances of things’. He suggests that the image of the head is a self-portrait and that the marks which were made outside of the plate mark - using sugarlift on a large copper plate - were ‘a way of developing beyond the traditional confines of etching and at the same time [beyond the confines] of extraneous presences parallel to the principal subject of the work itself’. The head appears to be asleep but the image was not suggested by a dream or an experience. The artist states that he is ‘never inspired by things that are not born from within the work itself. Inspiration is born while working.’

P07854 also depicts a figure asleep surrounded by animals and demonic images. When asked whether the images surrounding the figure represented the figure's dreams the artist replied that ‘There is not an atmosphere of dreams but something more subterranean, sleep at its most uncertain moment, something like death.’ The cave mentioned in the title ‘is a mystery and the darkness is always menacing’. The artist does not distinguish between dream and reality, stating that ‘There are always two realities in reality.’

P07854 is made from two plates, the smaller central plate, which depicts the figure of the sleeping man, being irregular in shape. The artist has explained that this smaller plate is ‘like a unique shaft of light which if [the plate] had been too regular would have conformed too closely [in shape] with the central part of the work’.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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