Text by Achille Bonito Oliva for the exhibition Steps, Villa Guastavillani, Bologna, 2005
THE ALTAR OF ART
Pirri’s vision of art appears to flow at a different height, following flight lines which do not observe the prescribed distance from the ground, but seem to follow paths at the opaque level of our feet. The composed substance of a mirror, traces of past objects, and reflections that hint at solitary interchanges with the wall. The surface is a mirror, a stationary, steadfast horizon that blocks our view. Artistic vision is expressed in incisions with the power of craquelure: a contained fracture, like a memory. Everything becomes both fleeting yet definite, traced inside the cemented substance of a surface that takes in and conserves every mark in a lasting way. Art has a long memory and does not get caught up in voluble sequences of simple free associations. The images get entrapped in the substance of a specular surface. Yet they all flee to take shelter on the surface of the wall, where it is difficult to get far, only from wall to ground. Time and space come to an irreversible arrangement, an interlocked placement left for future memory by the ability of the surface to construct a wall as a barrier to further instability. Making a mark means making an incision, entering matter with a steady hand, or having a fleeting encounter with the wall, leaving a sign of one’s presence. Chance and decision, geometry and open forms are laid out horizontally, still and frozen, all images of a presence which leaves no records other than these indirect memories. And so to the wall, the wall of the ninfeo of Villa Guastavillani in Bologna, which belongs to everyone, but only the precise, penetrating gestures of the artist manage to make inroads into the solid, opaque resistance of its surface. Perhaps the wall belongs to everyone because everyone can look at it, the heritage of the social eye. But art has the power to manifest itself, to appear even to those who are not artists, even only as a representation. Pirri brings his vision of art onto contact with our feet and bodies, brings the flight of images to the level f the collective viewpoint, on a medium that by definition, is legible to all: the mirror. Here time and space firm up their interlinkage and fix their encounters in ways suitable to the nature of the support. The marks are almost all graffiti, little rents and wounds that coagulate on the ground.
A collective book that speaks a language which is as yet obscure and unique. It is marked by a visual message which is both lasting yet temporary, made of mute signals, moulds of objects and lost footsteps, as if they had fallen on a fresh substance which had then cemented them in, leaving no way out. Pirri’s low-level vision is totally enmeshed in the reality of daily life, and does not allude to winged or eccentric images, instead offering the endless prose of small things, of small incidents with forms encountering the mirror, signs which are then fixed in matter giving rise to a lasting memory of their passage that would otherwise be impossible. The mirror’s lengthy memory is not an intrinsic quality of the matter, but the transfiguring effect of art, which in the individual imagination of the artist finds the power to endow long life to that which would otherwise perish. Pirri is the creator of a lasting dream. As long as the walls which surround the ninfeo. His creative processes centres on surprise juxtapositions and gatherings of forms and objects which normally exist distantly from one another.
The vision of art lies in creating new families of signs, new nuclei of meaning, which lead us to hope in a constant flow of new encounters and perennial conflict between established orders. We unceasingly retrace our steps to follow the superseding of old arrangement of signs. But this is possible because the mirror already possesses the power to withstand change, and the constant manipulation of its surface, which is both hard yet gentle and yielding. Moulds, casts, concave and convex forms vitalise the surface in spatial plays of synchrony and dissonance which do not affect its ability to withstand new interventions. The work responds to its own dream, which shields within it the life force of an imagination freed from the shackles of a set alphabet. Here no messages are repeated, and no messages claim the right of repetition. The omnipotence of a one-off, individual gesture partners and supports the vitality of the language. There is no sense of nausea with this movement because there is no repetition, which is what provokes the awareness of impossibility and stalemate. Art dreams of bringing daily life and its conventions onto the slippery horizontal plane of the ground, where everything is transformed by the signs left. This transfiguration is what is brought about by the interweaving of movement and mirror, with the necessity to take on the flesh of matter and shrug off the constitutional inertia of one’s essence. Pirri’s artistic vision revolves around experiencing the humble status of the idiom of daily life, in the knowledge that only the artist can dig deep into its opaque substance and bring a new form of tangible and moral energy to the surface. Pirri tends to point up the social aspect of his vision, laying it out metaphorically and metonymically as an apparition which picks up every gaze, ready to be transformed into communication, albeit by means of a visual and mental alphabet well aware of the labyrinths that language gets lost in. The dream is that of extending the reach of his particular aptitude, namely that of taking daily life into an untenable position, where language overflows from the constraints of meaning and looks to other horizions, arriving at a form of sacred art. From this altar, the – invisible – artist speaks to us and even uses this work to take part in Roberto Benigni’s film The Tiger and the Snow.
Time and space forever interwoven.
Achille Bonito Oliva