Marco Gastini, nel volo... attorno curated by Pier Giovanni Castagnoli - Galleria d'arte - Galleria dello scudo

Marco Gastini, nel volo... attorno

curated by Pier Giovanni Castagnoli

07-12-2008 / 28-02-2009

Marco Gastini’s earliest efforts in the 60s were aimed at going beyond tired Informale-influenced art and arriving at an economical painting woven through with hardly visible traces and gestures, somewhat similar to contemporary Minimal practice. In the following decade and, to an even greater extent later on, his language opened up to include compositional modules that could not be classified according to any kind of trend.

The works seen in his solo shows at the Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1982, at the Orangerie im Schlosspark, Weimar, 1998, or in other important solo exhibitions held in 2001 in the Turin Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (City Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art) and, in 2005, in the Centro Arte Moderna e Contempo-ranea di La Spezia (Centre for Modern and Contemporary Art, La Spezia), then transferred to the Kunsthalle in Göppingen, demonstrate how the “energy flows” that inspired his early works, so rarefied in their transparent surfaces and impalpable colours, have been transformed in recent years into complex installations, often on a very large scale, in which the presence of various kinds of forms and objects growing out from the surface take on an unusual pictorial significance.

The idea of compositions that emerge from the canvas, or that expand to embrace the environment containing it, lies at the heart of this latest series of works specifically created for the show in the Galleria dello Scudo, Verona, from December 7th 2008 to February 28th 2009; however, there are also to be seen elements quite different to those of the past. On large-scale canvases, shell-like aluminium casts or bronze moulded to seem knotty bark, are alternated with coloured glass and planes painted with thick pigment and which compose on the white walls a refined harmony of tonal modulations.

The show starts with Rimbalzo tra gli echi del blu, Rebounding Between Dark Blue Echoes, 1996, an imposing installation some five meters long in which a calibrated counterpoint of canvases thickly painted in cobalt blue and red follow an arching trajectory. Riflesso nel segno, Reflected by the Mark, created between 2004 and 2005, is the ideal transition point towards the nucleus of more recent works which, for the most part, have in common elements jutting out from the top of the canvas. Like the friezes of ancient frescoes, these force the viewer to look upwards in order to see from below a narrative suspended in the sky, and where gravity seems overturned: the weights float above an immaterial context.

In such works as Nei fogli della memoria, In the Notes of memory, 2007, and Su nell’ombra, In the Shade Above, 2008, slate tiles are firmly wedded to the support. Gesto sospeso, Suspended Gesture, and Nell’ombra degli echi, In the Shade of Echoes, both dating from 2008, give the illusive effect of the flowering of remains discovered at the bottom of the sea; they seem light, spongy clay objects, elaborated and dried out, but are in fact made from metal which at times is luminescent. They are imprints: in other words, the negative of the pouring process, a deception that the artist uses to represent the discovery of aesthetic value even in what seems to be without one. Soffio, Breath, derives instead from various superimpositions: of physical objects placed over painting, of slight traces which intersect in divergent trajectories: the expression of a force that circulates and pulses in the veins of the work.

So the leitmotiv of the show is one of careful balances: above is the weight, where volumes of various shapes gather, anchored to the canvas; below are vortexes of colourless brushstrokes, marked by scratches or brightly coloured inserts. The painting material is white mother-of-pearl which changes iridescently: “Inside that ever-changing pearly whiteness […] there already existed all colours, that it was a white full of a thousand hues”, the artist says in an interview in the catalogue.

The exhibition is curated by Pier Giovanni Castagnoli, the director of the Turin Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (City Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art). The catalogue for the show begins with an essay by him that gathers together, like the notes in a diary, memories, impressions, and images aroused in the past by Gastini’s work; there follows a dialogue with Marco Vallora in which Gastini follows the main events of his career and gives various illuminating hints for understanding his latest works. The volume, which includes a biographical outline by Laura Lorenzoni, is illustrated by photographs by Claudio Abate which interpret the works through their layout in the gallery spaces.