Giulio Paolini has long been associated with Arte Povera (“poor art”), a movement that emerged in Italy in the mid-1960s. These artists broke with tradition by focusing on process over product and by making their work from nontraditional materials such as found objects, plants, and other organic substances.
In his sculpture, Giulio Paolini explores the structure and function of art itself, as well as the principles of looking and seeing. Mimesiis a pair of plaster casts made from 18th-century copies of Roman statues that were themselves adapted from Greek originals. The sculpture–whose title is a plural form of the word “mimesis” or “imitation”–presents a debased version of the ancient mythology that is still so present in contemporary Italy, and comments on the well-established tradition of artistic appropriation. By making the elements of the sculpture “look at” each other, Paolini prompts us to question our own habits of seeing and our visual relationship to the art object.