Anna Marra Contemporanea is pleased to present Saul Melman – Divenimenti, the fourth show in the gallery series Focus On, dedicated to emerging artists. The exhibition is curated by Serena Trizzino and accompanied by a catalog with text by Melanie Kress. Melman’s first exhibition in Italy, Divenimenti includes sculpture, installation, and works on paper.
Placing equal importance on process and result, Melman’s work reveals the ephemeral state of materiality, and the unpredictable dimension of time. The four series of works shown in Divenimenti are: How You Hold Something Inside Matters, Best Of All Possible Worlds, Heliogram Series, and Anthropocene Series.
Melman’s sculptural works – How You Hold Something Inside Matters, and Best Of All Possible Worlds – evoke doors and walls that are both familiar and strange. At once present and absent, these questionable barriers hold viewers’ attention at the threshold between inside and outside. How You Hold Something Inside Matters is a site-specific installation comprised of brick-like cells made of skin dust and water. Pale dust, collected from the sanding of animal hides, creates a delicate and porous architectural space that balances containment with permeability.
Best of All Possible Worlds consists of a series of vacuum-formed casts of salvaged doors that delineate an imaginary domestic space. Mounted in steel frames, these unmoored and semi-transparent portals evoke the archeological discovery of a modern environment. The doors bend and reflect light, re-interpreted by the varying luminosity of their surroundings.
Melman’s works on paper – Heliogram Series, and Anthropocene Series – capture the elusive physical properties of light and ice through manual photography and papermaking. Anthropocene Series was initiated during an artist residency at Dieu Donné Papermill, during which Melman experimented with the interaction between paper pulp and ice. To create this series, paper pulp made of Abacá, a type of banana leaf native to the Philippines, is imprinted with shards of ice and brushed with pigment in the form of carbon dust. Melman uses the temperature differential between the Abacá and ice to drive interactions between pulp and pigment, imprinting a fluid moment in which the surface of the pulp freezes and cracks.
Heliogram Series is a photographic project realized during two artist residencies in the high desert of Joshua Tree, California. Taking advantage of the brilliant desert sunlight, Melman used a shipping container to make a giant camera obscura with which he captures a series of choreographed performances in a theatrical set. The resulting, large-scale photo-negatives are both geometric and ethereal.