“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 single-symbol 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.”


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