"My work seeks and finds its soul in life, and that is the only time dimension where what I do can be recognised, and the word "life", this desire for art to be reflected in life, encompasses everything: past, future and distant present, ethics and aesthetics that are specifically "star, blood, spirit" C. Parmiggiani, Mamco, p.13
By linking the various works presented by Claudio Parmiggiani for his second personal exhibition at the gallery, we could get a
picture of a constellation that we could make out in the dark skies of summer nights. Anyone who opens their eyes and puts their mind on a state of alert will be able to identify links between one work and the next. Their sequence is unconstrained and embodies a deep intimacy. Perhaps we can see them also as a network of organs contained in the body and interconnected by multiple vessels.
The visitor will find in this exhibition Lo Spazio del Cuore essential and recurring concepts in the artist's work, such as absence, the inevitable passage of time, fragmentation and ordeal, as well as the power of resistance of poetic images, ideas as a refuge, solitude and contemplation. Parmiggiani questions night as well as day, darkness and gloom as well as light and colours.
On the ground floor, in the right-hand room, a large Greek sculpture awaits visitors, facing them with the tragic vision of a decapitated kouros, the body vertical, its bolt upright solemnity, but the head lying on the ground (Senza Titolo, 1995). Blood, which has turned into pure cadmium, is spread over the torso of the kouros and on the ground. This blood was transubstantiated into pure light of the spirit. Parmiggiani is interest more here in the "blood of colour" (Il Sangue del Colore) than the colour of blood.
Regarding his work, the artist wrote already in 1986: "I want an introverted, mysterious art (...), which works through evocations and not by means of instant theorems, which are not a direct emanation of reason. Rather, I am thinking rather of something like a vision, something that expresses the feeling of a memory, which resembles a prophetic object. I am thinking of images with the hypnotic nature and anxious depth of a shadow that filters through the mind's eye and brings with it doubt and a question, the indefinable feeling, the feeling of infinity, that we feel when we stand before hieroglyphics imprinted in the gaze of any man. "
Mystery is also evoked in the left-hand room which contains a work charged with anxiety (Senza Titolo, 2009). At first glance, it seems to be a painting but on closer examination, the fineness of the drapery, the landscape of shadows and light show that this is the technique of "delocazione" that Parmiggiani developed in the early 70's. The subject of the work is a veil which, paradoxically, conceals the presumed subject supposed of the painting. Reference to the prohibition of the image and head-on view of an icon, this work of a rare delicacy carries with it a great strength which, ambiguously combines worship of the image (which makes the viewer think of the Holy Shroud, of course) and destruction (or denial) of the image.
On the first floor, a new work composed of an eighteenth-century harp and butterflies occupies the alcove with great serenity (Senza Titolo, 2011). From a formal point of view, the musical instrument and insects complement each other, but the connections go well beyond this echo. Ephemeral beauty, the butterfly, which can hide its beauty when it folds its wings, symbolized the soul in Ancient Rome. The butterflies gently clinging to the strings of the harp, an instrument that is associated with melancholy song, seem to be in a courtship ritual, and we have the impression that they have just landed on the strings at this very instant. We are keen to detect the slightest sound emanating from this meeting. The silence is eloquent.
We know dreamers prefer solitude. With Il Sogno di Marcellino (1977), in the right-hand room, Parmiggiani queries the dreaming and the night as perceived by the mind. The loneliness of the artist is comparable to that of the traveller but also to that of the reader. Every day is the creation of a new horizon. New maps are drawn, new visions sustain the mind. The book as a fount of knowledge and the boat as a means of being alone, of travelling through the world.
In the left-hand room, two works on the wall face each other. One is a small pristine picture, crossed vertically by the trail of a blood-red drop (Senza Titolo, 2008). We can feel dramatic events dripping down the white surface of the canvas. This small canvas topped with a brush and a pot of red pigment remind us of the muted violence that is contained in Parmiggiani's work. Violence that accompanies any act of rebellion or resistance.
Opposite this painting, we see an outstretched, open hand in a frontal view (Senza Titolo, 1983). In the centre, the palm is eaten away by a burn, and is on the verge of disappearing. The palm as a devastated wasteland. Here, the lines of the hand are no longer symbols of the future of a life, but paths that have disappeared leaving a gaping void. Can we not see here the poet's hand, the vital organ in the transmission of thought?
If you see a visual metonymy in this work, the burned hand becomes the burning man. The disturbing presence of this devastating mark reminds us that the artist puts himself in danger every day and burns a little bit more. "In time, life shapes a hand, a hand trying to draw a life in time. This circularity epitomises the essence and the desire of art, which can only worthily aspire to be the way it has actually lived."
In the library, Pane (1998) illustrates the fragmentation that is shared. Loaves made of cast iron placed on a pewter dish are, in the same movement, a mark of fragility and density. Bread as daily sustenance, but above all a symbol of essential nourishment.
One thinks of the Last Supper or seventeenth-century Dutch still life paintings, but it is also an allusion to the quartered body, its members dispersed like the works in the gallery. As the artist says in one of his texts, "the space brings the work to life. The work brings the space to life".
Finally, at the lowest point of the gallery, a heart finds sanctuary in the protective space of this low-ceilinged room (Senza Titolo, 2011). Each work invites us to follow inner routes, to bring about a transfusion between what it offers and what the viewer can receive. This heart acts like an ethereal sculpture. In this room, it becomes more an idea than an objet d'art. It is this heart which nourishes all the other works in the exhibition, due to its contractions and flows, it becomes the place where the exhibition has its heart.
In the final analysis, the heart is just a muscle but it remains charged with powerful symbolism. Peter Sloterdijk refers to this in his book Bulles (Bubbles): "Even in an era when it has become transplantable, the heart remains, in the dominant linguistic references of our civilisation, the directing organ of interiorised humanity" (p. 111-112).
The version presented here by Parmiggiani is a work seen as a "silent cartography made of glowing relays" (Jean-Luc Nancy). Sparkling while being dark, this heart is a beautiful vision of the night and the star that is in us. On closer examination, astronomy enthusiastics will discover, among the tens of tiny diamonds, a representation of Constellation Pisces.
We are facing a confrontation between two times; human time symbolised by this vital muscle which dictates the rhythm of our destiny and astronomical time, symbolised by the tens of stars set in the steel of the heart. Transperced by light, the heart literally shines.
Are we in the presence of a fragment of a star, siderite fallen from the heavens, not entirely consumed in its descent? Particle of the universe, man lost in the immeasurable contains within it a part of this immensity, despite its physical limitations and its inevitable fall.
Burning heart, burnt heart. Everything is consumed. We think about
artistic activity, the creative process, but also the "brilliant beings"
who were burned for their ideas or their beliefs in the not so distant
Throughout the exhibition, we feel that Claudio Parmiggiani gives form to mental visions which remain suspended, levitating in a meditative space.
We cannot limit ourselves to the visible reality when looking at his work, nor aim to rationalise his oeuvre.
Each work has its own pave, its rhythm, its voice, whether it is a whisper or a piercing scream.