Text by Barbara Goretti, written for the exhibition Misura Ambiente at the Galleria’ De’ Foscherari, Bologna, 2010

Alfredo Pirri: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture at MISURA AMBIENTE

On display until March at the Galleria De’ Foscherari in Bologna is a beautiful exhibition by Cosenza-born artist Alfredo Pirri, who continues to work on space and its relationships with light and which the built environment, vertical or horizontal. His research redesigns not only physical space, but also more complex structures of thought; the work here has its starting point in a piece originally created for the 17th century Cappella della Tenuta dello Scompiglio, in Vorno.

Alfredo Pirri investigates space and its relations with light and architecture. His research is based on the creation of inhabitable spaces which fuse painting, sculpture and architecture, rethinking not only physical space, but also more complex structures of thought. In Misura Ambiente, the entire order of things is redefined by way of a study of multiple perspectives. The nucleus of the project comes from a work originally made of the Cappella della Tenuta dello Scompiglio, in Vorno; a 17th century building which has always played an essential role in its environment, that of keeping together private and public space, as both a religious and a political landmark.
Pirri covers the inside of the chapel with a walkable floor made of crystal shards, as if ‘a set of windows had crashed in from above. Inside the shards flow flames of feathers painted in red, forming lines which converge in a perspective with an external vanishing point, lines which pass beyond the altar as utopian point and which meet behind the altar, in the manor house’ (A. Pirri). From this unitary yet open vision, a vision intended to surpass a certain, imposed architectural and intellectual framework, the artist undoes the work for the gallery, which as a redesigned piece describes new perspectives and vanishing points in the exhibition space. As such, he traces a passage which begins with the red lines, with the flames which cross the environment without invading it, and which ends by offering a series of different points of view. The act of gazing upon the work, like the act of thinking, cannot mould itself into a single shape; hence the observation of the work becomes an intellectual, critical condition. In order to achieve this effect sight does not suffice – neither as passive looking, nor as interior rêverie à la Bachelard, nor as alert perceptive looking à la Perec: what is needed is an opening towards space and towards its perspectives. This opening is always imagined by Pirri as a non violent intervention, distant from the idea of vanishing point that vanish towards nothingness: Misura Ambiente opened on Holocaust Memorial Day, and Pirri also gave us the perspective of a tragic photograph, the road towards a concentration camp, a ferocious vanishing point which ends in the abyss. Perspective, then, also takes on the role of destiny here, of a future which can open up into another space but which can also implode in on itself:

“a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in the air
he plays with the serpents and daydreams death is a master from Germany”

These verses by Paul Celan were chosen by Pirri to accompany the presentation of the exhibition to the public, and they speak of a conviction which is fused with the artist’s poetics: the ethics of art and of being an artist. And this doesn’t translate into the definition of directions, the imposition of routes to travel. Here there is no gigantic, no invasion: the quiet storytelling of the space expands onto the walls, caresses the corners of the room, becomes naked flesh, pink like the light which reverberates across the space. This is a landscape of the soul, within which each spectator can chose their own horizon. From the most quiet, most secret of spaces, works silently emerge made up of folded, overlapping elements; it’s as if from these works, the pages of books appeared, turned towards the observer: they look like miniature libraries that remind us, as in Penna’s room, of the importance of thought.

Barbara Goretti

to see the images click here