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Reviews : The doublefold dream of art
Posted by dnprossi on 2010/9/9 17:24:35 ( 8260 reads )

The doublefold dream of art 2RC - between the artist and the artificer by Achille Bonito Oliva

Whoever said that “life is a dream”? The person who made this assertion, whose name we wish to remain silent, evidently spoke while considering himself in a state of wakefulness. He pronounced the phrase as he stood on a threshold from which he observed the world: in a glaring state of sober-mindedness, something allowed him to think that he was outside this dream, in a sheltered place safe from any incursion, perhaps set on high, in a raised position above the mound of daily events which enlace and unravel beyond any woven warp of reasoning.
The chain of facts has fallen apart and they now occur without any consequential logic. So then it is necessary for the person who spoke to seek a remedy and find refuge, by means of a declaration that made life plunge headlong into the obscure funnel of the dream, from which there is no refuge but only the possibility of standing by, calmly or with anguish, without striking a blow, without interfering. The dream allows a surface representation, a stream of images which all flow in the direction of the cipher.
Art however shows us that this reckless statement is not possible, that language is not a tool of representation, but is itself representation. The person who creates is the artificer, the one who establishes the artifice, the god of the dream and the god who dreams. For artists, there cannot exist caesura, the closed door or the open door: the hinge turns on its pivots and artists are always left with their hand grasping the handle, not from caution but rather with wonder. They discover that their hand is itself the handle. It is not the artist who dreams, it is art itself which dreams, which moves not so much with the aim of aping the world, as that of simulating its movement and stoppage, its flight and suspension, in other words its language: it feels itself to be omnipotent and continually pursues its dream of potency. Naturally not all dreams are alike, many fly at an unreachable height and still others fly close to the ground or even underground. Dreams of inebriation and dreams of degradation, but all sublime. Not all dreams are within everyone’s grasp.
Some are exclusive and circulate from mouth to mouth only among artists, flying like a breath at mid-height among image dreamers who relate them to one another by looking in each other’s eyes, whispering them in the ear. Other dreams however may circulate freely even among the common people. They start with the images of art, classical Greek sculpture, and then veer to a more accessible height until they reach the mouths and ears and even eyes of ordinary people. These are perhaps divulged out loud, sometimes even with clamour, to excited and admiring circulation.
Sometimes it even happens that the dream dreams itself and then we find ourselves standing before the most indecipherable image, in that it desires no reading beyond its own, and wishes to sleep upon itself without ever being interrupted or brought to a state of wakefulness. And then there are dreams that take flight with the precise aim of being observed and these are the ones of art, which take on the clothing of visual language. These can stream and surge in an abstract and figural fashion through the profound state of people and beneath their feet. Since 1959, Valter and Eleonora Rossi have taken up the doublefold dream of art, purposefully in the Shakespearean awareness, indirectly in the mannerist one, “that we are a dream within a dream”.
Since then, in a constant feverish semi-waking state, the couple has become a collective subject, not simply artisans and faithful executors, but rather a fortunate label (2RC) which has accompanied the loyal and creative work of two subjects who have never robbed the artists of their role as creators. Artificers, who through their graphic realisation bring added value to the image matrix of the artist. The work of Valter and Eleonora Rossi, like a kind of car number plate, has travelled throughout the world, moving from Italy to America and Japan, always welcoming the protagonists and youthful hopes in art of the second half of the twentieth century.
Artificers, and not artisans – mere craftspeople of others’ creation – they have developed a cultural nomadism that has led them to encounter artists of abstractionism, informal, action painting, Pop Art, Arte Povera and Transavanguardia. Without even considering their foray into the creative milieu of various artists, both European and American, of the historic avant-garde movements.
While 2RC has strategically harboured and pursued the strategy of the doublefold dream, a graphic practice that has created a new skin on contemporary art, we will now go back to the first dream, that of art.
The artist has chosen to dream a dream of art which crosses many territories, those which unravel through strands of images and solar forms that are made up of fragments and sudden flares, of constant returns, then moving away and plunging down into a place which seems to belong to everyone. This magic territory is illuminated by an inner vision which blazes with its own light, strengthened by an eye which possesses the dual capacity of observing and being observed: Alechinsky.
The dream is spangled and sown with fragments that live at the crossroads of many heavens, that gravitate at different heights. The fragments are always fine, never full-bodied, their lightness allows them to roam rapidly and come to rest peacefully, without clutter or imbalance. There is no plunging or precipitation. The elements are arranged according to the dictates of compresence and epiphany, with a sense of illumination and sudden appearance: Calder.
The image is the outcome of a field of signs that are sown beyond any possible idea of a pathway and are always ready to return within themselves, to dream their own shadowy tenuousness. The dream does not consist of firm and peremptory images but of threads of images ready to be fragmented in the interweaving of many itineraries. This dream is made to be observed by an inner eye, in the mobility of its traces. Light traces which are at the same time enduring, rooted in the history of dreams which dazzle and have dazzled the history of mankind and the earth for thousands of years, immortality: Burri.
The shapes germinate directly in the dream of the work, trimmed to its frame, that frame whose edges are found within the confines of sculpture, which are anyway the borders of the dream itself. The germinating language of art gives rise to many flowers, even the oxymoron of the garden as a desert. It proliferates upon itself, flooding the surface of the painting with attentive disorder. The attention springs from a biological discipline of the language which is always arranged according to relations and ratios of instantaneousness: Victor Pasmore.
Even the colors are arranged in an open manner, either within the strands of the images or without, so as to distance the figures, to establish connections that then precipitate far off with echoes that fade at a great distance. Sometimes, they explode nearby with a roar that is forever silent, in that it always involves the eye, albeit the inner one. From here it then flows swiftly into the other organs of perception, which are never merely visual. In this way, the images return to where they came from, to the dim or absolutely radiant recesses of the profound garden before him: Bacon.
The profound is naturally not the space of the irrational, the pure disregarding of reason, but rather a repository which finds ever new life force and renewal from its very urge to remain below ground. A repository laid entirely on its side which is not fond of raising its head, which tends towards a leaning movement. The dream of art is what brings it out of its supine position, dragging it into the place of representation where it suffers no loss, but rather gains in further obscure splendour: Cucchi.
“Discipline in work to draw closer to form” (Miró). The painter’s assertion springs from the very nature of the language which always loves to lay itself beneath the observing eye in a courteous and compunctious fashion. Compunction certainly does not mean the loss of intensity, but rather its enhancement and greater concentration. The dream of art occurs by going beyond improvisation, by refining the image which calibrates its appearance in such a way as never to spill headlong from the repository which has held it until that moment: Julian Schnabel.
Withholding the image is the only way of preserving it from all caesura. The artist has the gift of not dispossessing the image of its depth, of its inner bonds. His art produces no lacerations, and forms and figures conserve their profound roots which embed them in the substance of the imaginary world. The imaginary world is not an abstract place, the abstract condition of fantasy, but rather the unbroken boundary around the repository of the profound. His language is the mechanism through which the profound initiates and produces its pollutions: Afro.
Vibration is the movement that the artist develops in order to approach the inner place. Nature is not far from this place, on the contrary it lives in unison on the same wavelength, consisting of expansion and contraction, of faint tremors which prevent great events but comprise the temporal, thus invisible, polarities through which the lesser events of birth and death occur: Clemente.
The simultaneousness of the image is not the result of speed but rather of patient calibrating whose tendency is not to deprive it of its initial intensity. Intensity is the temperature which measures the reality of the image, its way of remaining unaltered within the grid of language: Max Bill.
A slow and patient struggle occurs between the artist and his tools: at stake is his attempt to hinder the loss which may stem from a too agitated use of language. The artist is aware that language has a profound structure and that the profound is structured like a language with connections and passageways. Thus the artist, like an acrobat, walks slowly along the wire, in his attempt to cross an extremely narrow point into which he could plunge headlong: Fontana.

The artist has preserved sufficient roots to remain tightly anchored to the vibration which governs nature and also the dream of art. Here, geometry and organic signs ceaselessly interweave, establishing a harmony of appearances which conserve the intense phantasm of the whole within themselves and without. The whole is the circularity of everything and also the struggle to keep the initial vibration within the confines of a language that engenders a double meaning: the upward-rising one of refinement and the boundlessly downward-spiralling one of an infinite that can merely be surmised: Arnaldo Pomodoro.
For this reason, in his work the artist overturns the notion of nature into anti-nature by using classical materials like marble or technological prostheses. Through references to mutilation, cruelty and death, he constructs a whole series of oppositions to what may be considered the most common vitalistic notion of nature. Art responds to this with culture, the instrument of mankind’s perpetration as thought, and thus of immortality: Consagra.
The artist decides not to operate merely in simple pairs of opposites, but rather to practise a perversely polymorphous language. Positive and negative become polarities which find a place in her work where they can exercise their own values in terms of simultaneousness. Here, then, one discovers the specific nature of language which freezes vitality in an exemplary and definitive form. One discovers that the work is not only creation but also a reflection of the paradoxical longing for immortality which art nurtures within itself; and that the practice of a language, by its very nature a bearer of immobility and hence death, is indispensable: Nancy Graves.
In the graphics of his work, consisting of sculpture, drawing and installation, the artist programmatically raises to the level of a superior death the lesser death of the day-to-day: Nevelson.
Still-life is thus the essence of the language which leads to all creation. Here, by prompting the suspension of any hostility of time, a sort of apnoea is achieved, protected by form, which blocks biological breathing and holds the image on the threshold of our vision: Kounellis.
Nature and anti-nature converge in the work, reaching a truce between the catastrophe of time and our longing for duration. Art appears to be at the service of a dream of omnipotence, that dream of eternalising our present, cheerfully expelling all future hope in the hic et nunc of an oeuvre which, through contemplation, holds even the spectator on the fortunate threshold of the eternal present: Manzù.
Here even the memory of sculptures is amassed. Such sculptures use the golden characters of harmony, proportion and symmetry which underpin the identity of classical sculpture, particularly Greek sculpture which has come down to us by means of archaeological findings collected in museums. The Nike of Samothrace has reached us mutilated and deprived of some of her parts, and yet the nostalgia of this lack and the suspicion of a perfection embodied in the form allow us to enjoy the work by bringing our contemplative fantasy to bear. There is no need for all this in order to enjoy art. Here the mutilation is accepted right from the start, by the artist and the models themselves, and is portrayed by means of an economy of form which restores harmony and proportion: Chillida.
The use of marble, the reference to such a plastic material in the graphics, help the work to assume a sort of serenity which reverberates throughout the image. The artist offers exemplary definition, a dignified normalisation, to a bodily apparatus which exhibits its shortfalls head-on. Whereas sculpture generally celebrates the heroic gestures of characters who acquire visibility by distancing themselves from the mundane, now it is the mundane itself which demands no heroism but speaks by means of its very obviousness: Moore.
Art slays mutilation and the partiality of the mundane, using a language that expresses itself through the preference for a genre such as still-life. The artist has created the artifice of a natural, perennial paradise with the mingled presence of flowers, thorns and differing plants rendered eternal in the sudden beauty of full bloom blocked at its best moment: Sutherland.
Here too the technological prosthesis intervenes on the principle of organic nature as anti-nature. The artifice helps to sustain an ongoing revamping, an eternity presentified by a garden which demands, however, a space that is closed and simultaneously separate from our daily life: Sonia Delaunay.
Natura naturans and natura naturata confront each other in a dialectic process which eventually leads to the founding of a no-man’s land, the privilege of a place. We live on the threshold beyond which a spectacle, happily paralysed in its performance, is frozen for future memory. A borderline separates those of us who inhabit the lesser death of the mundane and the work of art which dwells wholly in the superior death of the eternal present: Man Ray.
The dream of art seems to flow at different heights, along flight lines that do not maintain their distance from the ground, but on the contrary appear to follow paths found at the dull level of the feet. The mirror, its composed consistency, the traces left by some memories of objects, the reflections which hint at solitary talks with the wall. The surface is a mirror, a horizon which flows firmly and stubbornly to block one’s vision. Here the dream of art occurs through incisive signs that have the strength of craquelure, a web of cracks as limited as a memory: Turcato.
Now everything becomes precarious and simultaneously definitive, traced within the sealed substance of a surface which receives and holds every sign in a lasting fashion. The dream of art has a long memory and does not lose its way among the voluble sequences of simple free associations. The images remain entangled in the denseness of a black and mirror-like matter, and yet all race to find refuge on the surface of the wall from which they cannot anyway flee far, off the wall onto the ground: Richter.
Time and space find an irreversible setting, an interlocking collocation offered up to future memory by the ability of the surface to understand how to build a wall against all instability. Leaving a trace means engraving, going into the matter with a steady hand or rapidly receiving and meeting the wall so as to hurriedly mark the cipher of one’s passage. Happenstance and decision, geometry and open forms, are laid in a horizontal position, firm and frozen, all images of a presence which finds no other witness beyond these indirect memories: Capogrossi.
Thus the partition, the wall belongs to everybody, but only the individuated and incisive gesture of the artist manages to affect the hard and dull resistance of its surface. Perhaps the wall belongs to everyone because everybody can observe it, patrimony of the social eye. Yet the dream of art has strength enough to let itself be seen, to appear even to those who are not artists, but only as representation: Vasarely.
Art brings its dream of art into contact with the body and feet, it brings the flight of its images down to the public gaze, onto a prop which, by definition, can be read by everyone: the mirror. Here time and space render their weavings concrete, fixing their encounters in the forms which befit and suit the nature of the prop. The signs are in fact almost always graffiti, small slashes and wounds that coagulate on the ground. The communal book which still speaks an obscure and peculiar language: Penck.
This is crossed by a visual writing, enduring yet precarious, consisting of mute signs, castings of objects and lost steps. As though they had fallen into a fresh substance which then entrapped them like cement, never again allowing them to escape. The downcast dream is dropped entirely in the day-to-day and does not cite winged or eccentric images, but is content to cite the immeasurable prose of small objects, the small accidents of shapes which meet the mirror, of signs which coagulate in the material, awakening an everlasting memory which would otherwise be impossible: Sam Francis.
The long memory of the wall is not a quality innate to the material but rather the transfiguring effect given by the dream of art, which gains strength from the artist’s individual fantasy of giving long life to what would otherwise perish. The artist is the creator of a long dream. Creation occurs through the surprise of juxtaposing and aggregating shapes and objects which normally live very far apart: George Segal.
2RC’s dream of art is that of creating new families of signs, new nucleuses of sense, through which one can always hope for further encounters and a perennial clashing of orders. Doubling back unceasingly to trace the surpassing of old arrangements of signs. But this is possible because the mirror-like matter already has within it the strength to support the mutation, a constant manipulation of its surface, a hard surface and yet simultaneously mellow and yielding.
Prints, casts, concave and convex, give rhythm to the surface with spatial accords and discordances which do not disturb the ability to support new interventions. The wall created is a work which responds to its own dream, which nurtures within itself the urgings of a fantasy free from any bondage to a definitive alphabet. Here there is no writing which repeats itself, nor writing which arrogantly claims the right to be repeated. The omnipotence of the unrepeatable and individual gesture accompanies and sustains the energy of the language.
The pace does not therefore suffer from nausea because there is no repetition, which is always the element that causes awareness of impossibility and setback. The dream of art is precisely that of bringing the day-to-day and its conventions onto the slippery sideways plane of the ground where everything is transformed into the opportunity for a sign.
Transfiguration is the outcome of interweaving between step and mirror, of the sign’s need to assume the flesh of matter, and of matter’s need to emerge from the constituent inertia of its own essence. 2RC’s dream of art is that of traversing the dull state of daily language, in the awareness that only the artist can manage to dig down into its opaque substance and bring to the surface a new energy, both material and moral.
2RC aspires to socialise the dream of art, setting it up metaphorically and metonymically for the possibility of an apparition which can be sensed by every eye, ready to be transformed into communication, even though by means of a visual and mental alphabet which knows full well the labyrinths within which language can hide itself. The dream is that of spreading the contagiousness of one of its aptitudes, which consists of bringing the day-to-day into a state of impossibility, where language spills over the embankments of the signified and slides towards other bearings.
All in all Valter and Eleonora Rossi, labelled 2RC, have travelled far and wide among the works of numerous artists. Practising a pellicular nomadism, a syntony between creator and creative, artist and artificer which has broadened the dream of art astride the 20th and 21st centuries, in a doublefold dream which has stamped a seal of even greater perpetuity on the immortality of art.

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