“Le pietre del cielo” at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia is the second instalment of a programme involving the Fondo Luigi Ghirri in the juxtaposition of Ghirri’s photography with sculpture. After Yona Friedman in 2015, this time Paolo Icaro was invited. Ghirri’s images enter into a dialogue with the Piedmontese maestro's work, made up of minimal elements in plaster, stone and iron that he bends and shatters.
The curator Chiara Bertola explains the idea: “These sculptures are like drawings in the air, like working on something that cannot stand up on its own. Icaro works against the stable and fixed concept of form. He uses materials that crumble and are unable to maintain formal unity, becoming the anti-monument. He succeeds in fragmenting and ruining the centrality that sculpture has always occupied in the space of all our places. This decentralisation is the same thing Luigi Ghirri does with his capacity to move along rivulets, banalities, the things we have always seen in our suburbs.”
Ghirri’s eye and extraordinary sensitivity peruse the landscape in search of signs and traces of history. They are placed in comparison with Icaro’s structures, which are intimate constructions, portable landscapes, “indications of space” as the sculptor himself says, adding, “I try to trap space in common rusted and oxidised bits of steel wire, just as you see space trapped in Ghirri’s photographs.”
The exhibition is installed in the Carlo Scarpa area, which gives an ulterior dimension to the exchange in this interior, which is a peculiar 1960s design by Scarpa. Water is the distinctive architectural element. Indoors and outdoors flow into one another, blurring the distinction between them. The four rooms are four places united by a fluid path through floors that go up and down, where the water multiplies the reflections of light. The sensitivity of Icaro and Ghirri can be measured here; they build a dynamic narrative. The sculptures in iron and plaster blend with the geometries of the pavement in cement and Istrian stone. Slabs of travertine welcome the pictures of landscapes taken in the Po Valley. All the elements are balanced; the three different visual languages meet, revealing coherence and harmony.
Ghirri and Icaro are two maestri with two different means taking possession of the space of a third master, writing a new “musical score”.
This not the first time the Fondazione Querini Stampalia has hosted contemporary artists to enter into dialogue with its spaces, and take inspiration from them. The creation of the Fondo Luigi Ghirri and this show reflect the intention of Chiara Bertola, the foundation’s curator since 2004, to work with cultural heritage in order to bring out artistic intentions and leitmotivs that are often forgotten or unseen.
“I am convinced that the heritage and patrimony that we receive must be treated like a living patrimony, not dead or frozen, locked up in a warehouse to be catalogued. This patrimony must be experienced, consumed almost.” Referring to the Fondo Ghirri, Bertola imagines it “as a treasure chest that can be mined for ideas and unexpected suggestions that give us the possibility to work with and deepen the maestro's lessons.” The fund was instituted in 2015 when Roberto Lombardi, a contemporary art collector, entrusted a nucleus of photographs belonging to the series Il profilo delle nuvole to the Fondazione Querini Stampalia. For that series, the Emilian photographer had portrayed the Po Valley, telling about the area while following an itinerary. Recollection, enchantment, memory and a feeling of suspension are the sentiments that animate his reading of the landscape.
- Exhbition title:
- Le pietre del cielo
- Chiara Bertola, Giuliano Sergio
- Opening dates:
- 11 November 2017 – 28 January 2018
- Fondazione Querini Stampalia
- Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5252, Venice