archive - past
Fontana · Leoncillo
forma della materia
06/04 - 09/07 2016
In 1955, the poetics of informal art begin spreading and taking hold, thanks also to private galleries that considerably grow in number during the 1950s, thus replacing the initiatives of art collectives that characterized the scene right after World War II. The exhibition FONTANA ● LEONCILLO forma della materia takes the experience at the XXVII Venice Biennale as the starting point for a major change in the work and career of both artists.
A comparison between these two artists is credited with, on the one hand, underlining Leoncillo’s key importance in the history of Italian and international sculpture, while on the other hand showing how Fontana radically felt the need to open volumes, surpass matter, build around emptiness, and create space. By overlappings and juxtapositions, this exhibition highlights Fontana’s sculptural interests in a mainly two-dimensional field, in relation to a painterly approach found in the sculptures of Leoncillo. Both practices aim, though in different ways, to reveal the form innate to the matter itself.
Leoncillo displays an art where substance grows and becomes alive, striving between impulse and seeming control: vertical assemblies of ceramic tiles or terracotta in an impasto of color, form, and light, where emptiness is not absence, but rather a space that allows matter to be born and expand from nothing. Starting in the 1950s, Fontana begins developing his two-dimensional investigations though always maintaining a dynamic idea of sculpture. In addition to the “holes,” his canvases are enriched with color and glass shards, thus creating the Pietre cycle looking out onto space and taking light over, through the translucent materials. Moreover, in the Barocchi the substance grows thick, almost tactile, absorbing by reflecting fragments, lines that suggest they may continue even outside the canvas.
Through a passionate and uncompromising research of MATTER-COLOR-SPACE, Leoncillo and Fontana resolve the contrast between the concepts that prevail at the time by means of a synthesis between abstraction and realism, aimed at disclosing a unity (and a truth) of matter.
In the pages of the Piccolo diario (1957), the artist asks the Earth for “a new natural object from layers, holes, tears which are those from our being, which emerge like our breathing. Thus no longer color . . . but matter that has a color we name afterwards. No longer volume, but matter with a volume . . . And clay becomes ‘our’ matter for the acts we conduct on it and with it . . . acts that are born from rage, from softness, from desperation, motivated from our being alive, from what we feel and see.”
In a letter to Giampiero Giani (1949), intended for Raffaele Carrieri, Fontana states that “since the Uomo nero, 1929, the problem of instinctively making art has cleared up in my mind. Neither painting nor sculpture nor lines marked off in space, but instead a continuity of space in matter. No M. Rosso, but instead the plastic dynamism of Boccioni—absolute color spots on shapes to abolish the feeling of substance stillness, nothing concluded in that sense, but getting ready to understand—Astrattismo, 1934, neither Brancusi nor Arp nor Vantongerloo, no volumes but profiles in space (no static forms), a sacrifice of creation, a closed way, lack of a means to obtain a new expression of art.”
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