Text by Zoe De Luca
Describing Andrea Magnani’s work is not always easy, because it often consists in a feeling for the most part. The suggestion that hovers among his works is so tangible that his very first solo show, hosted by Giorgio Galotti gallery in Turin and open until April 7th, doesn’t even need a title. On the opening day, the first element one would encounter while approaching the gallery was a yellow, suffused light, typical of the wintry twilight from 5.58 PM. As the sun completes its descent beyond the horizon, two headlights positioned on the roof of the exhibition space begin to heat up, letting an amber light leak from the two ceiling skylights, triggering an exchange of witness that allows twilight to be unnaturally perpetuated, leaving the whole space frozen in dusk for the rest of the evening. The density of the air is charged with an enveloping heat that slows down the movements of visitors into the room. It suspend them in another state, artificial but not theatrical, where the spatio-temporal perception is indefinite and dilated, as under a deserted Bolognese colonnade that seem infinite before a slight curvature. The gallery space features another element, almost imperceptible but characterizing: the walls are studded with mold stains, painted with water, salt and rust by the artist. In this former garage now converted into an exhibition venue, these environmental references bring the room back to a lab rather than a displaying dimension. The impression of entering the workshop of an esoteric craftsman is so strong that the works are hardly perceived as such; There is more or less the impression of breaking into a place where everything has been abandoned by their owner, leaving it in a peaceful oblivion where the original functions are discernible yet unclear.
The body of the show is divided mainly into two sculptures.
The first is a contemplative scale that hangs from one of the two skylights by means of a rusty metal chain, an archaeological collage formed by fragments of various origins, both industrial and artisanal. Sculpted from a single block of durmast, where the wisdom symbolically attributed to the oak tree strides with the features of the faces chiseled at its ends, Ebeti di M. represents two grotesque faces, two eyeless snouts with a drowsy, unconscious expression, held together by a hands twined on their backs. Four fingers appear from their palms, as if to underline the not fully human nature of the subjects by means of two pairs of limbs crystallized in equal quantities. Two brass weight necklaces distill from their mouths, shaping into a sequence of different length cylinders that dangle, dragged by gravity; All interstices between each cylinder are filled by white, circular scabs, where irregularity appears to influence the orientation of the tool. These two ends were respectively carved, one in nightlight hours and one in daylight hours, yet both containing one element belonging to the opposite timespan; This, combined with the potentially endless sequence represented by the proportional metric of the cylinders, turn the scale into some sort of spinning yin and yang, pointed towards progress but constantly seeking a balance. An oracle devoid of wisdom, available but unaware of itself, whose two faces seem smoothed by time and human sebum, like the statues of monuments to which some power is attributed.
Placed in the other half of the room, there’s Enìopi, the second sculpture: a work station, shaped as a small menir made of Vicenza stone, curved like old goldsmith's benches, as if to suggest its original use, which seems to have been abandoned while still in use. At the center of its shelf, a burial full of soil and a crucible half filled with chalk indicates its original function: to pour the irregular rings that solidify around the cylinders of the scale. This work contrasts the other one not only as it represents an opposite function, but also because it only exists to contaminate its perfection. A loss of control within the stiff phenomenology of the scale.
Near to the console a couple of square drawings made with Palomino pencil, embedded in calamine-coated metal frames, close the loop: the drawings are realized with a negative chiaroscuro that brings out sculptural forms, previously created through a meticulous layering of Japanese graphite in which subtraction is not contemplated. The three-dimensional shapes that emerge from pressure are sometimes emphasized and sometimes blurred, in a constant pursuit for equilibrium between one tension and another. Next to each drawing an oil lamp, fixed to the wall by an apparently ancient applique, invites the visitor to interact and make the drawings twinkle with the flames’ light, to explore their depth and trigger projections. The scene is completed by some tiny paper notes abandoned near the only vertical window and a labeled bin full of rubble and soil that keeps the gallery door left ajar. Both objects are compiled with hints of language: an alien-looking alphabet that recurs in the artist’s production.
Everything has a narrative grip made to hook an aesthetic, to create a doubt that drags things inside: we can also find it the text that goes with the show, written by Mattia Capelletti, where the writer has imagined a children’s story where abstract sounds become language as words become unintelligible. All of Magnani's work is focussed on intersecting two elements to obtain a third one, creating a generative dynamic to abstract ideas. From the endlessly chiseled durmast to the non-stop traced drawings, each work isn’t frozen in a symbol or metaphor yet open, effusive, undefinable. We can sense the causal connection between all elements, but the fractal nature of each one of them only stands for their leap. They are subjects whose finite presence may look static, but experience the shiver of the future. Everything revolves around the perpetual motion of conjectures, the incessant creation and destruction of meaning, the seek for a gray tension.
Courtesy of the artist and Giorgio Galotti gallery