Artist: Pier Paolo Calzolari
Dimension: 99 x 75 x 13.5 cm and tray 1.6×26 x 16 cm
Technique: Assemblage: Lead and Candle
About the Artist
Pier Paolo Calzolari was one of the leading artists in the creation of what was called “Arte Povera” a 70’s Italian movement which aim was to react against the values of the commercial galleries system using throwaway materials and “exploring a range of unconventional processes” as the Tate describes it.
This approach paved the way to what we understand now as conceptual art.
His interest in the presentation of mortality, time, fragility, life and death has led him to produce works of a very special beauty that somehow can be associated with the tradition of “still life”.
Pier Paolo Calzolari “was born in 1943 in Bologna, Italy, and lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. He has exhibited internationally including group exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); MoMa, New York (2014); Fondazione Prada, Venice (2013); Kunstmuseum, Basel (2012); Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2011); MAXXI, Rome (2010); Tate Modern, London (2001) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1994). His work is represented in numerous international public collections including the MoMa, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; Fine Art Museum, Boston; Documenta, Kassel; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Palazzo Grassi, Pinault Foundation, Venice; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.” White Cube Gallery, 2018.
What this work is saying?
Something I understood when I was working on my thesis (Museum for not conventional art) for getting my degree as an architect is that conceptual art is one of the most challenging forms of art that are out there to be appreciated and respected.
The reasons are many: Being the idea the main value behind the “object” it removes any responsibility in that “object” to be the consequence of the skills of the artist. From this perspective the “object” can be anything or can be nothing.
The risk that this brings is that a good “speech” can (in theory) sustain a work, which is basically you buy the idea, not the “object”.
How you discern who you need to listen to? How to separate the opportunistic people that know how to talk from those that are authentic and committed artists?
For me the answer is either you have a respected advisor or you do your research consciously and carefully on his/her work, present and past, looking for the presence of elements that allows you to see if there is consistency among them. Parallel to this I would suggest you to investigate if he/she is copying other artists’ works. Ideas and objects can be replicated easily. If you are going to be paying thousands for a work, it is better to do your homework.
From this a bit too long introduction, apologies for that, and looking at Calzorali trajectory one can see and understand the weight of his work and proposal.
When I saw this piece I felt such beauty and sadness on it.
The way the lead has aged involves the passing by of years, the candle on the top of the folded corner talks about hope and fragility.
On the austerity and roughness of the lead sheet you see by contrast the perfection of the flame and how time is embodied by both materials.
There are certain elements of traditional art present on this piece like the proportions of the sheet, its dimensions, and its distance from the small tray that collects the wax in a naïve and pure gesture of care and awareness of scarcity.
Because of the attention paid to the composition and to the aesthetic values of the chosen objects there is a moment where the materiality of them disappears and you are there alone facing the work as if it was a painting, frozen in time and space.
In what Room to place it?
I would suggest it to be in a living room, hallway or hall with a dedicated space so you can place it and make it perform.
This is a piece that requires room to be appreciated.
In my opinion de wall where it hangs should provide a great contrast to the materiality and texture of the piece, this means a smooth wall, ideally painted in white or a light color to enhance the appreciation of it.