Torre Pellice (Turin)UNDERLINING - Group show of one-man shows
GIOVANNI ANSELMO, GIULIO PAOLINI, GIUSEPPE PENONE, GILBERTO ZORIO
UNDERLINING brings together the one-man shows of four artists: Giovanni ANSELMO, Giulio PAOLINI, Giuseppe PENONE and Gilberto ZORIO, who have been pivotal figures in the panorama of contemporary art since the 1960s and are linked to the TUCCI RUSSO Gallery, which this year celebrates its 45th anniversary, both for its exhibition history and for the shared vision.
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In dialogue with Antonio Tucci Russo, each artist has made a free choice of the works to exhibit in his room.
Each room is independent of the next.
The work that welcomes us as we enter the Giovanni Anselmo room is Direzione, dating from 1967, the year in which the artist started to give the title ”Direzione” to works in which a magnetic needle was inserted in various materials; in this case wood covered with black formica, empty inside, and of a triangular base.
A magnetic needle has been inserted into this “mass” which orientates it according to the direction of the line of force of the earth’s north-south magnetic field.
Consequently, the viewer is also oriented around the work.
The wall on the left is covered by Particolare di Interferenza, 1969-2019. The work is linked to the first work of 1969 entitled Documentazione di Interferenza umana nella gravitazione universale. It consists of 20 photographs taken by the artist every 20 steps while walking in the opposite direction to the rotation of the earth and towards the sun at sunset. By moving along the wall with the hanging photographs, the viewer completes the work.
On the front wall we find Particolare del lato in alto della prima I di INFINITO, 10.5.1971. It comprises a drawing on a sheet of paper measuring 25×25 cm presenting a surface totally covered in pencil marks. The artist defines it as “a visible and measurable detail of the INFINITE as writing enlarged in pencil on paper”, which each time is a detail of a letter of the writing.
Finally, Il panorama con mano che lo indica, 1982 offers the surrounding space to the eye with everything that is present within it. On the floor, a block of stone allows the visitor to climb on to it and look around from above.
Upon arrival to the personal exhibition of GIULIO PAOLINI the first work one sees is Sottosopra of 2005, which consists of two music stands (one standing, the other overturned) placed in front of the large wall canvas (the feet of the overturned music stand touch the canvas). Two handwritten texts recorded by the artist respectively on a white sheet and on music paper, are torn into numerous fragments, partly contained between the two stands and partly scattered on the wall and on the canvas. On the latter, a square outlined in pencil, with the diagonals indicated at the corners, acts as an “ideal geometry” for the disorder of the “upside down” scene on this side of that impassable threshold.
Moving on, in a central position, almost embracing all the works on display ideally, we find the sculpture Lo Spazio, 1967-85. Paolini declares: “I have tried to make the word become an image of itself. When the word takes on a particular spatial arrangement, it can in its own way become an image”. Compared to the first version of 1967, the eight characters are in Plexiglas, considerably larger in size and arranged in such a way as not to make the word legible.
Alfa (Un autore senza nome), 2004. The photographic reproduction on a transparent tondo shows the blower of bubbles adapted from a painting by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. The other tondos of various sizes (a total of nine, like the planets in our system) reveal the linear drawings of quadrilaterals and circles, as though they were “bubbles” blown by the boy, evoked also by the crystal ball placed next to the polyhedron. Chardin’s character proposes an allegorical stand-in for the artist, understood in a universal sense, without personal identity, “without name: the author’s breath that crystallises in the polyhedron evokes the becoming of a work, just as the spreading out of the breath to the point of vanishing, recalls the (vain) constantly renewed striving for the work by the author.
Di-Stanza, 2000. The drawing on the wall reproduces the jamb of a door that opens the gaze towards a room on whose rear wall there is a frame – similar in appearance to the jamb of the virtual door – which encloses a drawing of the same room. A frame resting on the wall overlaps the mural image. The material and conceptual difference between the virtual and physical space drawn on this side of that inaccessible “room” is highlighted by the title [ndt: a play on words on distanza, ’distance’, and stanza, ‘room’].
Dopo Tutto, 2010. The Plexiglas cases are suspended by means of steel cables in front of a large transparent sheet, also suspended, which bears the engraving image of a room shown in perspective. On all the cases, the outline of a male figure seen from behind is shown in black marker pen, and a hint of diagonals outlined in red. The figure from behind represents a double for both the artist and the spectator who looks at a work that has still to come but his visual field is crowded with echoes of works already “seen” and “displayed” while the red diagonals evoke Disegno geometrico, a picture of all possible paintings.
(The descriptions of the works on display by Giulio Paolini have been freely extracted from texts by Maddalena Disch)
Giuseppe Penone has chosen to present a series of works titled Contour Lines, together with Pelle di grafite-Riflesso di Rodonite, Porta and Scultura di Linfa, 2006 in the space dedicated to him. In the last work, the tree shape is carved out in the mass of the wood following the growth of a ring. In this way it appears as its negative. In this case, the tree is absent. The shape of a matrix is what remains and the wood itself has dissolved. The resin inserted in the empty space is part of the tree and its colour recalls that of blood. Resin is the perfume of the tree, the fragrance that reminds us of the life of the tree that is preserved in the wood.
As we move forward, we come across four works called Contour Lines, 1989. In making these sculptures, Penone did not intervene on a natural phenomenon with which to open a confrontation with his own culture, but on an event determined by the action of men. The works were realised in the town of Halifax in the UK, in spaces of industrial archaeology now used as exhibition halls. Halifax is a town that was once renowned for the manufacture of carpets, located in an area where cast iron has been produced and worked since the times of the Industrial Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century. The area was also the scene of Luddite actions, the first revolts of workers against factory working conditions, which resulted in the destruction of the factory machines. The artist wanted to intervene on the social, collective history of the place where he was working. The stairs and landings of the former Halifax factory still reveal the wear caused by the daily passage of thousands of men. Penone made a cast of six deformed landings and of a corner of the stairs using cast iron, the typical material of the Halifax area, produced by those same men. The cast presents the reverse side of the deformed element, so that the void created by the friction of the steps becomes the fullness of the sculpture. The artist has set the landings close together two by two in order to represent a circular movement. Although addressing industrial products and human actions, this work has links to other interventions carried out by Penone in nature. There is still the idea of a rigid material which, in the long term, appears fluid and modifiable as a result of erosion; there is the trace that is recorded in the material which thereby carries the memory of a contact. There is above all the idea of a sculpture not created by the artist as the author of a significant gesture, but indicated by the artist, just as the image of the tree was indicated in the plank, and determined by other factors not under his control: in this case, by the action of an anonymous group of human beings.
For the artist, the image of the factory still harks back to that of the ploughed field, its organisation to that of agricultural work. Our culture, he adds, has divided ways of thinking, the human being from nature. I don’t think we can make such a clear distinction: there is a human matter and a matter called stones and wood, and these produce cities, railways and roads, as also beds of rivers and mountains. From a cosmic point of view, the difference between them is irrelevant. (Catalogue text, Giuseppe Penone, Castello di Rivoli | Fabbri Editori, 1991)
In the same room, another work, Porta, 1969-2020, a frottage made of graphite on wall, is also connected to the industrial space of Halifax and to the corridor leading to the stairs. It is also important to stress that graphite, therefore carbon, combined with iron are among the components for the production of cast iron.
Also in 1989, during his stay in Yorkshire, the artist had the opportunity to visit the coal mines in the area. The works of the Pelle di grafite series are inspired by this experience. The work presented in the Pelle di grafite-Riflesso di Rodonite, 2003, exhibition traces the furrows of the skin. The skin is the surface that defines the contact of our body with reality.
Gilberto Zorio does not believe in a dominant affirmation of his sculpture, but in a surprising and immeasurable magnificence. Since he believes in energy, he is not interested in blocking it, but in making it arise everywhere in a different way.
His environmental explorations have continued since 1969, making the most of the dialogue between light and dark, visible and invisible, dull and incandescent, which the artist uses to evoke the limits and boundaries of his three-dimensional territory: the room.
In presenting Confine Incandescente (Il confine è la linea immaginaria che si concretizza con la violenza) of 1970, realised using an incandescent resistance with the word confine (‘border’) in one part and suspended in the room diagonally in the void, the artist highlights the plastic significance of the place. He claims a sculptural extension of the immaterial and makes it a visible geography, but, in this case, not touchable.
His is a process that does not privilege a single point, but takes the form of a transmission in time and space of a presence that can equally be visible or invisible. Something that evolves, based on the change of materials and forces in the field – the nickel chromium wire made incandescent by electricity – that shift from one condition to another, subtending a continuous movement.
We also find this condition of change in the other work on display, Stella di pergamena, 2020, supported on the wall by two javelins. Depending on the given light conditions, this work presents a different image of itself, in the dark becoming a luminous presence thanks to the phosphorescent material dotted on the parchment that makes reference to writing, of course, but also reminds us of how parchment was once used to glaze windows instead of glass, as it too is permeable to light.
The sculpture Per purificare le parole, 1981-2020, the first version of which dates from 1969, consists of a terracotta container for wine, which the artist defines as mankind’s first synthetic material, or modelled stone. This ‘wineskin’ is supported in the void by a steel ladle normally used to manoeuvre crucibles in casting processes and is positioned at a height beyond reach except to giants or to the foliage of the trees.
In the first realisation of 1969, placed on the floor, the work could be activated by anyone who drew their mouth near and uttered some words. Entering the ‘wineskin’ that was filled with alcohol, the sound came out purified and returned to the user, intoxicating him with its aroma. The sculpture in the room acts with different energies: two lateral mouths with two wax cylinders inserted, treated with phosphorus, a carrier of memory, make the air that escapes from inside the skin visible and highlight its alchemy.
(The text have been freely extracted from the catalogue Gilberto Zorio. Torri Stella / Star Towers, curated by Germano Celant, Skira, 2009)
Courtesy the artist and TUCCI RUSSO Studio per l’Arte Contemporanea, Torre Pellice / Turin. Photo © Archivio fotografico TUCCI RUSSO