In 1967, the Christian Stein gallery in Turin offered Boetti his first solo show, at a time when Arte Povera was emerging as an important movement. The young artist was subsequently invited to take part in all group exhibitions around this theme,that paved the way for total freedom of artistic expression, and for his participation in shows related to conceptual art, such as When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthalle Basel in 1969.
This show marked Boetti’s detachment from Arte Povera in favour of conceptual experimentation through duplication, symmetry and multiplication. His works then focused on codes of classification and communication, working with numbers, maps and alphabets, playing with a variety of materials and techniques, often reminiscent of ancient Middle-Eastern craftsmanship.
Boetti’s passion for Afghanistan began in the early 1970s with a few trips that later turned into long stays. During this time Boetti began working on the Mappe (Maps), entrusting the realisation of his tapestries to Afghan women embroiderers. The colours and shapes of the flags changed according to the world’s geopolitical context at the time of the realisation (1971-1994). Kabul inspired another famous series: the Arazzi (Embroideries). After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (December 1979 – February 1989), the discontinuation of the production of tapestries led him to work with Afghan refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan (from 1986).
A great traveller, Boetti spent long periods on different continents. Countries such as Ethiopia, Guatemala and Japan inspired him to create his Lavori postali (Postal works) with local stamps. Evoking the passing of time, these pieces were based on the mathematical mutation of the stamps and on the unpredictability of the world’s postal services.
The revolutionary aspect of Boetti’s work was radically to question the role of the artist and the impact of chance, sequence, language, repetition and authorship in the creation of a work of art. His work and attitude have strongly influenced the next generation of artists in Italy and around the world.
Archivio Alighiero Boetti
Via Valadier 1
00193 Rome, Italy