Like many of Pier Paolo Calzolari’s works, this piece, which was originally the starting point for a performance, combines various elements: alongside a large monochrome piece is a complete installation kit. This piece was created at a time when the Arte Povera movement was coming to an end. It embodies the artist’s desire to go beyond the limits of Arte Povera in order to juxtapose more freely the languages of painting and performance. Certain elements, such as frost (which acts as a vector of transformation), the egg (an image of the perfect form), or the sound (read out loud during performances, or recorded) are perfectly anchored in Pier Paolo Calzolari’s sculptural universe. The soundtrack consists of an extract from Giorgio Vasari’s work “Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects”, about Il Sodoma.
Soundtrack: “All these animals were so well domesticated that they wondered endlessly around the house, playing the strangest games and making the most bizarre noises in the world, in such a way that the house itself had the feel of a veritable Noah’s Ark.”
The horizontality of this piece, made up of tobacco leaves from Virgina and pure tin, is a reference to Franciscan ideology that establishes a dialogue and a relationship of equals between living creatures (human or animal), matter and objects. It simultaneously juxtaposes the intimacy of writing with the materiality of tobacco leaves. The inscription “lago del cuore” (lake of the heart) introduces a form of poetry into this contemplative work.
The artist has produced three different versions of this work.
Created in 2011, this large still life, shown for the first time at the “Arte Povera” exhibition organised by Germano Celant at the Milan Triennale in the same year, can be seen as the metaphor of a landscape in three dimensions, in which the artist has taken certain elements like water or frost. Conceived through a process the artist calls “syncretic and lyrical”, suggested by the murmuring of water from a fountain, it references the “Valori Plastici” movement in mid-1920s Italy, which aimed to rediscover the sculptural values of painting by ridding it of romanticism and expressionism in order to reconnect with a greater formal purity.
The form of the water clock occurs frequently in Pier Paolo Calzolari’s work; this pure form is the vehicle for notions of time and memory that are omnipresent in the artist’s thinking. These three pieces, shown for the first time as a triptych, employ the same geometric form, contrasting the whiteness of salt with its exact double, burnt to an intense black.
This phrase (Love, your teeth are like grains of glass), carved in capital letters on a surface made of salt, echoes telegram n°502 (Milan, 26 April 1976), an extract from a series exhibited at the Galerie Toselli in the same year. It has also been quoted several times during performances. The inscription, a mirror image, is only revealed when read carefully, simultaneously suggesting the shyness of an intimate relationship and a silence that derives from the white surface of the salt. The format of the work, as well as the choice of letters carved in capitals, are references to funerary monuments that carry commemorative inscriptions.
Created in 2013, this piece reflects Pier Paolo Calzolari’s domestic world: the door is an exact copy of the one from his bedroom, the mechanical pig that tries in vain to go through is a toy that he gave his wife.
It can be interpreted as a sort of tragicomic self-portrait.
Created in the artist’s studio in Paris (rue des Écouffes) in 1970, this piece is emblematic of the development of his thinking between the late 1960s and the early 1970s, a period during which he frequently used mirrors. The surface of the mirror reflects the space, but also acts simultaneously as a medium for a memory triggered by the combination of the phrase written in neon lights (I and my five fish-hooks in the corner of my real sermon”), and the soundtrack coming from the loudspeaker (the artist’s own voice).