“Lorenzo Marini’s engagement with the letters of the modern Latin alphabet hovers between that of a graphic designer, that of a painter, that of a linguist, and that of a poet.
In each of his paintings and sculptures Marini rhapsodizes on the visual, verbal, and (to a lesser extent) sonic properties of the 26 letters, treating their staves and curves as armatures for several levels of fantasy, fantasy which often courses far from its singlesymbol source but never loses sight of it. Marini’s antecedents, clearly conjured in his soi-disant “Type Art,” range from Medieval manuscript illumination to latter-day graffiti (Jean-Michel Basquiat’s quavering ruminations find particular echo in the Italian artist’s giddy phrases); from 1960s Pop art and supergraphics to the notational surrealism of Klee and Miro; from the word-collages of Poesia Visiva (a Franco-Italian visual-poetry movement) to the lit-up geometries of Memphis Milano. The success of Marini’s typocentric artworks depends intellectually on this rich range of citation, but also on a literary use of language— English and Italian for the most part—that befits the works’ graphic effulgence. (On occasion, going on in torrents of
simile about the shapes of letters, Marini the writer approximates the evocative brilliance of his countryman Italo Calvino.)
Surprisingly, calligraphy does not figure, except incidentally, in such Type Art: Marini’s approach, although painterly, is not gestural but is rooted in the form and function of the letters themselves. He regards his B’s and N’s and W’s as stable, established personas, structurally self-contained, inspiring a universe of association around them. In this regard, Marini personalizes the alphabet and, in the evident joy he takes in doing so, encourages us to do the same. One of his single-letter Typevisuals or pan-letter Multitypes is not simply an entertainment for eye and mind but an invitation to elaborate in our own minds upon these no-longer-quotidian phonograms. Such generosity of spirit alone recommends Marini’s Type Art, but his way with color and his irrepressible cleverness, both visual and verbal, also renders his work approachable and appealing.”