Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea is exhibiting at Miart 2017 (31 March - 2 April) with two booths, in the section Established Masters (B46) and in the section Decades (B30).
Established Masters: Giorgio Griffa and Emilio Isgrò, the 70s
The stand features an exhibition of works from the 1970s by Giorgio Griffa and Emilio Isgrò – a time when the two artists, today internationally acclaimed, were intent on developing an original and totally innovative pictorial language.
Giorgio Griffa, who will be taking part this year in his third Venice Biennale (he previously exhibited in 1978 and 1980), is represented here by Studio Guastalla with a group of untreated, raw canvases, on which the artist traces a series of primal, calligraphic brushstrokes, horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, always the same but, at the same time, subtly different on account of the imperfect action of the hand. These lines seem to shift within themselves, in a sequence of movements by the artist's hand, which is concentrated wholly on the act of painting. The artist is thus no longer the central focus, so that the picture itself (combined with the intelligence with which the colour is applied to the canvas) takes centre stage. The canvases are not mounted on frames, but hung directly onto the walls with nails: frayed threads extending from the edges and the folds in the textile which, once it has been taken off the wall, is refolded and put in a heap (that is, the history of the work in its evolution, independent of the artist) are all left visible. Thus the work stays forever unfinished, like an utterance halted in mid-sentence.
As for Emilio Isgrò, Studio Guastalla presents a series of works which capture the core elements of the artist's production, the Cancellatura. Isgrò does not delete in order to censor, his gesture is not destructive, but rather, creative. The erasure serves to reveal the word that is not deleted, to make it germinate, to place it in relation to other words that are at a distance in the text, thus releasing new meanings. The erasure is a process aimed at regenerating both word and communication; it is a (successful) attempt to attack and deconstruct the claims of messages to be unambiguous and truthful, to reveal their limits, to condemn the illusion that what they are saying is indisputable, to free the line from its “automatic” connection with meaning. The enlarged details, which “cancel” with a great grey stroke the complete image to which they are linked, the abstract letters, which appear singly on the blank canvas in which the context does not feature, and the “red histories”, which block out with colour the figures of revolutionary myths whose name appears at the bottom, are all forms of “cancellation”, a cleansing of language, in short.
Decades (the 1920s): Adolfo Wildt and Arturo Martini
At this stand we can see, side by side, two great Italian sculptors who produced their most important works in the 1920s: for Adolfo Wildt (1868-1931), this was the period of his fullest maturity, while for the younger Arturo Martini (1889-1947), it was the time when, in accordance with the aesthetic principles set out in the magazine Valori Plastici, he developed a sculptural language that echoed the solemnity and concision of ancient and mediaeval sculpture.
Adolfo Wildt will be represented by the bronze version of the sculpture Il Filo, a work the artist worked on during the 1920s on the pagan subject of the Parcae (one of whom is the large female figure), who spin the thread of the life of the human soul (the small figure) – it derives from the Christian iconography of the Mother and Child, as can be seen in one of the preparatory drawings, shown next to the sculpture. The complete collection of the ten medallions created by Adolfo Wildt will be shown. A series of drawings on parchment produced in the 1920s and 1930s will also be exhibited – figures delineated with purity of line, and fluid, continuous strokes, on gold backgrounds that recall the Vienna Secession and which create an ideal, abstract dimension. These works have been in the Guastalla collection since they were produced, and were shown for the first time in the twenties in two exhibitions on Wildt at the Bottega d'Arte, the Livorno gallery of the Belforte-Guastalla family, who still hold letters from the time exchanged between the artist and art dealers.
The stand will present around fifteen works in terracotta and in bronze by Arturo Martini, mainly executed in the 1920s, a time when the artist was fine-tuning his highly original style, in which ancient and modern, tradition and present day, merge, in a search for a new language that responds to the avant-garde crisis, in which memory, classical style and myth are exploited. The subjects, largely evangelical and Christian (the Annunciation, the Little Nativity Scene, the Pardon, the Via Crucis, St Sebastian, the legend of St George, St Giovannino), but also ancient, like the terrified Amazons, are tackled in a style that aims at synthesis, concentration, and is able to tell a story through a few lean figures who capture and define the moment. The works on show include “The Meeting between St Mark and St Justus”, which was supposed to be placed in the monument to the Duke D'Aosta (in this competition in the early 1930s Martini was clamorously rejected in favour of Eugenio Baroni) and “The Pardon”, a bronze tile whose preparatory plaster mould was shown in the 1926 Biennale. The exhibition shows Martini's amazing ability to narrate a story with minimal, slender figures, seen in their everyday modesty and set in a landscape that vibrates with the cosmic sense of nature.