«Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color, and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows — a colorless, all- color of atheism from which we shrink?» Herman Melville, Moby Dick.
A perfect opposition to black, white too is a non-color, similarly a clot of all possible colors. «White strikes us as a grand silence which feels absolute», says Kandinskji. There is white as an absence of sound, as a place of purity, a place of nothingness and of the invisible. A color telling tales of silence, of hiding, of progressive subtractions until almost nothing remains. This is how extreme abstraction unfolds, achieved by the exercise of Kazimir Malevič, Russian painter and founder of Suprematism, who in 1918 painted the unconceivable: a white square on white background. Only an imperceptible contour outlines the quadrangular area, slightly rotated, the mental space delimited, a non-object nevertheless possible, where slightly different shades affirm the existence of a protected space. Almost invisible. He writes: «In art the absolute supremacy of the plastic sensitivity must prevail on the naturalistic descriptivism, this is an invitation to research a non-objective art, in which figurative and representative elements are canceled; this painting of mine says: this is not an empty canvas, a deleted icon I framed, but it is an invitation to perceive the non-objective of the objective in status nascendi»[i].
Affiliati Peducci & Savini, a school of sculptural art
The artistic duo Matteo Peducci from Castiglione del Lago and Sienese Mattia Savini met because of their love for sculpture, a passion both pursue after graduating from the Fine Arts Academy of Carrara in 2007. But Affiliati Peducci Savini isn’t simply the name of their partnership, it is also the name for their place of art: a decommissioned quarry of pink limestone in the hills of Assisi, now home to their white creatures, where they both live and work and which has become their ideal place of research and experimentation. They transform marble with ability and craftsmanship, reproducing the other materials with striking resemblance, proving the versatility of the marble here molded to imitate materials like paper, polystyrene, wood or plastic, to an estranging effect, suggesting just how deceptive reality can be.
By a deep knowledge of the classical canons, sculpture is directed towards new interpretations, enhancing the nobility of the material with a witty sense of humor. Research and experimentation are the hinges of this artistic duo, who have turned an important laboratory into a bustling art-studio, retrieving the single specializations and pausing on each step of the artistic process, from the extraction of the marble to the final levigating of the stone. An ideal dimension, resembling the old botteghe (art workshops), where the ancient knowledge and work is taught in direct contact with the maestro.
The craft foresees great teamwork, with specialists for each step, from molding clay to polishing the finished stone-work; the demand for professional artisans arose and a proper school of sculpture was founded. Peducci and Savini, after many years spent working in Italy and abroad, sculpting artworks for the king of Thailand and collaborating with important artists, such as Cattelan, Penone and Jan Fabre, since 2014 have also worked closely with the Research Center of the Normale di Pisa University, developing new technologies for electroplating and electro-sculpture, used for their metal artworks – and studying the geopolymers.
The reality created by Peducci and Savini embodies the Magnum Opus – in alchemy, the process of manufacture and transformation of matter, material and spiritual metamorphosis into purification. They are sculptors who search for new perspective and new application within contemporary art, recovering the values that made it indispensable.
A journal of femininity by Tonina Cecchetti
An artist from Sigillo, sculptor of great experience, Tonina Cecchetti almost exclusively uses ceramics though with various techniques and is especially interested in the human body, either in its integrity or mutilated, but always in the great expression of a shiny white.
Her bodies, shaped as mannequins, are of different height, at times only visible as legs, with bare feet standing on wooden bases, often dressed in white garments, evoking ceremonial sacred rites, inevitably embellished with lace and veils. Cecchetti displays a journal of femininity in relationship to the acceptance or refusal of one’s body, while investigating the great mystery of maternity. Her statues scream in silence, a dramatic relationship with aesthetics unfolds, the social will of an always perfect body, the recognition of a public equalitarian and dignified status.
The most investigated themes are those of the female body and of the child, with graceful shapes often set in unsettling and surreal context. The pale shade of the flesh is often in contrast with the dark backgrounds, becoming beacons of light in the night, like dreams governing the obscurity of a deep sleep rummaging through the unconscious by just existing.
The double we often find in her artwork represents duality, a declared value she wishes to rehash, the tensions of the union with the other, a breath of hope for a harmonious cohabitation. The artist explores the two-dimensionality, a space where her actors are trapped in a thought-out scenography, where they may recover a harmonious livability by overcoming a tragedy, a subtle restlessness ironically evoked, staging actions scanning mutations, unravelling the conscious yet not always ending in happiness.
The vibrating and estranging nature of Eraldo Chiucchiú
The Deruta-born sculptor has always expressed his imagery in ceramic and in his long career he has conducted a scientific research, studying the different themes and the different techniques, investigating geological phenomenon and constantly experimenting to find new technical solutions.
White has become predominant in his latest productions, inevitably, as he wisely works with porcelain, crafted into thin sheets in light boxes lit by led and in mobiles, part of his intriguing series Litofanie. The sheets become as fine as paper, etched with graphemes their surfaces are vibrant. White is investigated in all its potential and transparency plays an important role as it influences the tactile or visual perceptions.
Frattura holds a unique stylistic code and displays his great technical wisdom in turning surfaces into enlarged particles or materials: Chiucchiú investigates what lies beyond which is cleverly evoked in his work. His light boxes, made of two thin sheets of porcelain descending from above, compose a habitat where a new refined plant universe reigns, reminiscence of the elegant oriental art.
Everything changes if the light goes on: the sculptural elements strike for their harmony and balance, but the led-lights change the perspective and the cold milky white is transformed in warmer welcoming shades, lovingly embracing the viewer, inviting into a new natural dimension, estranging yet also reassuring.
Assaulting white: Giosuè Quadrini
The most recent artworks of Giosuè Quadrini, a young artist from Terni and among the most interesting to date, are solved in a complex composition of impressions, graphics and symbols standing out on their surfaces of wax. He rediscovers the ancient technique of encaustic painting, repurposed in a dramatic modernity, where opacity is in contrast with the writings, where white is constantly assaulted by the signs, color zones, words and become a welcoming surface of a convoluted tale.
The whites affectionately absorb the light, the opacities are in contrast with the symbols and writings and other shades, evoking the deepest emotions for an intimate yet universal narration, because they tell us of the meaning of being; there is no embellishment, just humility.
Quadrini’s poetic wafts through like a whisper, the dirty white creates the neutral tonality, never uniformed, revealing the manual work, layer after layer: the shades are never shrill or in opposition, but compose a refined palette, researched, intended, experienced. The choice of wax allows more subtle engravings: like a layer of pale skin, the wax is a veiled surface which protects but never hides. His investigation of the material is tarnished, yet sublimed, it is fused with the process of time which consumes: there is something of archeological in Quadrini’s work, the elements must be carefully observed and searched for. The canvases are like walls with niches inhabited by the relics of the everyday or like closets, they are content and containers, as if they suggest that there is a hiding place, a safe place, somewhere to conserve.
Image is pure meaning: Lauretta Barcaroli
Artist from Terni, active for many years, Barcaroli recently developed a series of artworks which abandon the original figuration of her early training. The recent cycles exalt the gesture of the artist, now imbedded in the artwork’s materiality: here the image, free within a chromatic annihilation, may be exhibited to the observer as pure significant. Apparently Barcaroli’s material cycles seem to avoid any space defined by composition: rather we have surfaces autonomously undergoing the transformation in art work, according to the laws of chemistry. The narration is nullified, what we see is pure matter, as is its creation, it being a physical act; absence of color must underline the objectivity of the surface. Everything is planned into a carefully woven warp, even though we only realize later: by scrutinizing the surface, the color white used by the artist does nothing other but exalt the essence of the artwork, which is white and nothing else, rather is and nothing else: to be, total essence in pure becoming.
[i] K. S. Malevič, Non si sa a chi appartenga il colore, scritti teorico-filosofici, Nadia Caprioglio (a cura di), Torino, Hopefulmonster, 2010, p. 163.