Juxtaposing materials such as glass, concrete, and steel, Cattaneo emphasizes the rich relationship between materials, and the creative process which, for the artist, is the most important aspect of the work. There is no prior knowledge that one must have to understand these works, as the artist feels as though a critical discourse arises through the work itself, without needing to explicitly refer to it. It is brought about by the work’s materiality and physical presence, and there is thus no necessity for additional meanings to be constructed through theoretical writings.
With a practice rooted in site-specific sculpture and installation, Alice Cattaneo has started to create works which no longer rely on a given architectural context. However, the spatial relationships between the different parts of each sculpture are still extremely thought through. Cattaneo’s recent pieces also comprise new materials and techniques, such as the incorporation of blown glass elements and poured concrete, which involves artisans and specialists in her process. Often anchored to the wall, directly or by means of a shelf, the components of her sculptures are increasingly simplified, almost to the point of becoming simple lines and geometric forms. The essentialisation of these forms allows the artist to investigate notions of horizontality and verticality as the foundations of a sculptural practice.
The resulting reduction of volume exposes a void, in which one can remark the energy which flows between the various elements. For Cattaneo, empty space is just as important as the material aspects to the works, because it reveals that which one cannot see – the process. For Cattaneo, the actions which create an artwork are just as important as the work itself. While creating a piece, an artist must grapple with the physical properties of materials, which are often contradictory or even hostile to one another. The heaviness and density of concrete can be enough to overpower or break a fine piece of glass, and the artist attempts to push these materials to their limits while still creating a harmony between incompatible elements. The work is thus the product of a lengthy process, which testifies the artist’s past actions in the way that leftover relics can be used to document a performance.
These new works signal a slight departure from previous sculptures, which were largely comprised of everyday materials which could be easily manipulated by the artist. The materials were then arranged in relationship to the exhibition space, using weight balancing techniques as well as loose ties rather than more permanent fixatives. As a contrast to the wall-based sculptures upstairs, two anterior works are shown downstairs. These two ground-based sculptures reinforce a connection with the earth and their location in the gallery, while acting as a counterpoint to the sculptures upstairs, which are all elevated.