mercoledì 4 marzo 2015

LA FORMA E L'IGNOTO, solo exhibition with Kandinsky, Jean Arp and Imre Reiner. Ego Gallery Lugano

(The shape and the unknown)

Personal exhibition of 108 with original works of Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Arp and Imre Reiner.
Vernissage: Thursday, 12th February 2015 at 17:30
12th February 2015 – 21st March 2015

The partnership between ego gallery and Guido Bisagni, stage name 108, is once more consolidated through the exhibition The shape and the unknown (La forma e l’ignoto). The artist from Alexandria presents a series of unpublished works that perfectly summarise the most recent result of his multi-year work on shapes in view of his second solo exhibition in Switzerland. For this special occasion, 108’s paintings and drawings are compared with some original works of three exceptional godfathers: Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Arp and Imre Reiner. Thanks to the cooperation of a renowned Swiss collector, the viewer can enjoy a glimpse of research on colors and shapes not invented by Guido Bisagni but of which he is proud and the worthy heir. 108 in fact has concentrated on possible developments of abstract art for many years; the artist has been able to develop vanguard concepts linking them to the contemporary artistic context. This is visible in studio works, but even more evident in public space, where he is now considered an important precursor: when Street Art was born focusing on representation, 108 painted abstract art, thus paving the way for many street artists, who, from Europe to the United States, have developed their urban work in his wake, thus obtaining a remarkable international success. 108, born and bred in the Italian province, started making public art at a very young age, and, despite being one of the forerunners of this art, he has always stayed away from what the fashion industry, especially the American one, now hails as Street Art. Comparable in some respects to a modern monk, his research has always been intimate and far from the world of pop: diving deeply and completely in artistic creation enables 108 to find refuge in a very personal corner, where space and time do not condition you but are controllable variables through creation. Synthesis in its very personal forms contrast strongly and almost fundamentally with contemporary art today, which is often made of frills and tricks to please the audience or the critics. In short, 108 fills the superficial world of "I like" today with intense meaning. Interview:

To better understand 108's work, we asked him a few questions about his influences and his research:

How did you start life in the art world?

I started drawing as a child, but not only, I've always had a passion for everything that was manual. I was influenced by this mainly from my mother who started painting before I was born and by my maternal grandfather who always created models and worked wood. As a child my passion were dinosaurs and trains and I used to draw them constantly, dreaming of becoming a cartoonist or Illustrator. In the early 90's I started with graffiti which I discovered through skateboarding, and I dedicated myself to them for a long time in the most classical form, until I discovered that my real interest were pure forms and colors 
Artistic research on shape and color played a key role at the beginning of '900...

I am conscious of being late by a century, but I decided to be inspired by these artists for two reasons: I think that historical period has been, not only for abstract art, the most extreme point which the vanguards embraced and so while finding my way for abstract art I decided to eliminate (almost) everything that came after, and start from there. The second reason is that for years I developed my research on walls and in public spaces and that I was almost an "outsider" for a long time in that environment, bringing the abstract where figurative art prevailed over "illustration" and more pop and superficial images and where nobody had presented a research comparable to mine. 

How did you fall in love with KANDINSKY?

In 1997 I decided to devote myself to design so I joined the Faculty of architecture of the Politecnico of Milan, specialising in design, where I obtained my first degree years later. During my first year at an examination of visual communication, I learnt about Bauhaus and the vanguards of early ‘900. Reading "The spiritual in art” by Kandisky, was probably the most important event which marked my artistic path and to which I am still attached. At that moment I decided to take what I was doing more seriously and then to stop reproducing letters and sometimes figures in a style that I had already seen and to seek a style of my own. It is impossible to totally describe Kandinsky's influence on my work; most of it happened unconsciously. I then decided to consider shapes as shapes and colours as colours, and above all to experiment them and observe what was happening. I tried many times to find the "perfect shape" but never succeeded with a rational process; this was described by Kandisky much better than me:
... I never used previous shapes with logic, but only those that an internal impulse moved me to use. I never succeeded in "matching" a shape: each chosen shape was repugnant to me. Those I used arose spontaneously... " (from "A look at the past", SE editions). 
I've always admired folk art, and more spontaneous art forms such as art brut or naive painters. I love the imperfections and I love exposing the "painting". While painting flat backgrounds and simple shapes, I prefer them to be imperfect, I'd rather expose the brush strokes and the painter's mark. 

There are contact points even in music...

Another important point in common with the great Russian artist is to see connections between painting and music. I have always worked with sounds too and the part that has always fascinated me, as described in "Spiritual in art" is that music is always an abstract art. There are many points in common with Kandinsky in my work, not just because I decided to start from there and it is considered the starting point of abstract art. There are many things that I have discovered over the years. The most important part anyway, besides neglecting figuration, is the relationship that is in my work between ARTS and MAGIC or spirituality, which are indivisible in my opinion. Art must have a spiritual significance, otherwise it is an illustration, an embellishment. Besides painting, I am fond of anthropology, and I studied shamanism by collecting documents on what still exists today, and what existed in Europe before Christianity. I didn't know that Kandinsky thought of becoming an anthropologist before becoming a painter, and spent several weeks in remote areas of Russia where the Komi lived, for ethnographic study. There he was in contact with their art forms and with the last shamans and thus decided to become an artist. This struck me deeply.
I could also mention circles or soft shapes, but I will only say that Kandisky is the most important artist to me, not only in painting.

What about ARP?

I could mention many other artists who have greatly influenced me, but Arp is definitely the second. On one hand, his simple and free shapes are incredibly familiar to me and have always given me a sense of peace and tranquility. Arp’s art is essential for my entire work, and not just aestetically, but for all that it is, once again, magic and unknown. At one point, I drastically tried to eliminate (besides letters and figures) all the "rational aesthetics". But not just that, I wanted to release my creative spirit as much as possible, and then, go back to a vision of spiritual and shamanic art, abandon rationality and reason. And this is how I started with the "yellow shapes". I had this roll of yellow adhesive film and began to cut it automatically in soft and completely irrational shapes and so happened to be, though the result was unrefined, incredibly close to Arp shapes, but not only. The idea of putting these shapes on the streets derived from an attempt to communicate to "normal" people out of space and time devoted to art, how in reality, all social patterns that are followed daily are nonsensical; or at least take a breather or awakening, to those few who walked for a few seconds, saw my shapes devoid of logic and by trying to give it a sense came out of the daily "loop". One last thing, more material, is that for Arp, as in the case of Kandinsky, whenever I start to work with a material without thinking (either color or clay) I find myself incredibly close to the shape of this artist, just that aesthetic feeling.

And what about Imre Reiner?

I met Reiner as an artist later. The use of black for example, especially ink on paper, or the most rigid stroke, led me in many cases to stay away from soft and lighter forms of Arp and Kandinsky. I don't think this is just an aesthetic choice, or the influence of the nib, but a personal thing and once again unconscious. Some thoughts from within do not always lead somewhere. Sometimes they get muddled and end up in dark environments. Other influences return here, from the ancient ink calligraphy engravings or landscapes, which create gloomy views even if they have lost the figurative part. One of the things that most struck me in Reiner's painting and particularly in some sheets, is this penchant for some incongruous shapes, which although abstract, seem grotesque and thus in my opinion are alive.