“Dynamics”, critic text by Andrea Pagnes, 2000, eng

To link history and the history of culture with daily experience, to achieve coexistence between an artisan-work and the conceptual and technological sophistications of our modern times is not an easy task, but nonetheless an interesting one. If the final result of such an approach can maintain the fascination of several past meanings and - at the same time - express a strong, innovative tension, then it is easier to understand why some artists differ from others. This being that they are able to affirm both a particular, individual creative autonomy, and an investigation of semantic formal values capable of bestowing on their art works a certain aesthetic dignity. This is the case of A.M., sculptor, in his debut in the new gallery of Rossella Junck. For many years now A.M. has worked as a photographer specializing in ancient and modern glass sculptures. He is a perfectionist which has enabled him to widen his knowledge of this material in all its several aspects: from the ancient techniques of blowing to the various project-phases, from the work in the furnaces to the documentation of many exhibitions in museums and galleries. In his photographic work, he was deeply attracted by the inner mutability of glass sculptures, revealed by the different kind of light incidence, background, and context he chose to use.

Constantly sought after for his originality and professional skills, A.M. was soon in touch with some of the industry’s best glass designers, which led to the almost automatic step from the conceptive image of other artists’ glass works to the design of his own. As a photographer he worked to obtain reproductions of glass sculptures that were never just simple means of objective communication, but rather involved images of what sculptures emanate. The eventual overcoming of this apparent contradiction between the imperatives of of objectivity and interpretation has become the fundamental principle of his artistic research. A research that has transformed into a pure aesthetic investigation of the material: glass. The rigorous and extreme forms he has created represent a break with the traditional ways of Murano glass manufacturing even though he utilises the most common techniques and glass types. Experimenting with the material casuality caused by different glass lifting and removing techniques, obtaining informal organicity within the rigid, ordered, geometric form achieved by an extreme glass grinding technique, reveals A.M.’s will to work the glass as a noble material, and not as an imitation or a pretext to reach pre-established, unemotional, objective aims where artistic value can often be missing.

A.M.’s approach to glass - a thoroughly mental approach - is to intuit the expressive possibilities of glass as a material for sculpture, whether he outlines it in a formal representation or translates it into symbolic narration. To assemble glass with a contrasting material such as iron gives the onlooker a sensation of being in front of ritual, evocative objects, characterized by a remote, austere holiness. Due to his serious approach, the originality of A.M.’s sculptures derives from his ability to circumscribe the design to the inner and natural characteristics of the material he has chosen to use. The same undoubted strength and elegance of his pieces comes from the artist’s natural tendency to rigour and discipline. In these sculptures the relationship between glass and iron is almost epiphanic. They don’t look like pure objects but rather subjects capable of expressing their own manifestation and appearance.

For A.M. it seems particularly important to show his art works not only in situations distinguished by pure aesthetical pleasure but also to turn them into open confrontations dealing with problems strictly ingrained in the ethics of making. Andrea pays strict attention to the presence of man as an observer in today’s world. The video Dynamo - which he has expressly made for this exhibition - is a clear example of the above. Starting from the assumption that today’s Man phagocytizes images without being able anymore to perceive their meaning - and this is not a problem that regards the images themselves, but rather a problem connected to how Man uses and proposes them - Andrea has conceived an operation based on the attempt to restore to the image its rightful communicative value. It was not easy to make this experimental video.

Today images are unable to communicate. They just inform. They recycle themselves. They contaminate and replicate themselves superficially. They clone themselves at a chaotic speed. They don’t allow space for any reflection or consideration. Their content is swallowed by the exasperated, disorganized rapidity with which they follow each other. To reconcile the video-image with an appropriate context, and give it the possibility to become a depositary expression of content and context like the one mentioned above, is an operation aimed at focusing on the image that can become - and remain - a document for fruition, and not just a vulgar element of consumption or seduction. Blades and Metal.

The first impression I had of A.M.’s sculptures was that of participating in conversation with something that was coming from an abstract and remote distance. Ineffable, mysterious. Something ingrained in the reminiscence capable of maintaining all the characteristics and the attributes of a contemporary art work. I had the sensation of being inside a dark photographic chamber, waiting for the image to appear on paper. While staring at the dynamism of his glass blades, with their peculiar quality of cutting the motionless, inert space and of incising the void, I asked myself if there was something else beyond the formal elaboration that is the dominant factor of all plastic art investigation.Then I had to ask myself if there were any other reasons that had pushed him to express something beyond the ordinary experimentation of the fusion and grinding of glass.

Obviously there was something else. An attempt to give the object-sculpture semantic values capable of profusing a sort of aura, in order to confirm an artistic dignity that is often lost because of a superficial over-emphasis of decoration due to a lack of intention. It is clear that with A.M.’s sculptures the blade is the fundamental element, the icon of his universe. This element is the one that characterises them and affirms their unicity. Since ancient times, the blade has been identified as a symbol of penetration and opening. The wound - the spot in which the blade goes through - is a light. In alchemy, the blade represents the thought that introduces the light, and the organ of creation that opens to fecundate and split in two to permit the synthesis. The blade is the shaft of light that illuminates and opens a closed space.

It is the sun-ray, the fertilizing element that splits images, without confusing them and reducing them to a level of pure abstraction. Nevertheless, to understand the reason for his formal choice I thought it was necessary to go back and sift through symbolic meaning. Since ancient times, the blade has been identified as a symbol of penetration and opening. The wound - the spot in which the blade goes through - is a light. In alchemy, the blade represents the thought that introduces the light, and the organ of creation that opens to fecundate and split in two to permit the synthesis.

When they follow a linear direction, they are connected to the symbols of horizontality and they express a truthfulness that is totally aerial like their own trajectory. To challenge gravity means - symbolically - to realize freedom from mundane conditions. Of course, what I have written in the previous paragraph has relative value to A.M.’s sculptures. Nevertheless, independently of those scholarly considerations, if we watch carefully how he assembles them, it appears that they assume a particular function: his sculptures become catalysts and vectors of energy. They virtually exercise an influx of attraction, conduction and coordination that is consequent in their settings. I have to admit that my analysis is maybe spoiled by a certain interpretative enthusiasm. Nevertheless, the long friendship between A.M. and myself allows me to point out in his art work certain concepts that characterize speculative investigation, concepts that also belong to his way of being and thinking.

The way A.M. assembles his sculptures represents the overcoming of prosaic conditions, an imaginary freedom from distance and boredom: a mental anticipation regarding the conquest of an exceptional gift. A gift that could be comparable with the end of ambivalence, projection split in two, objectivation, choice and oriented time. A.M. sets his blades in the same direction as one who searches for his identity, individuality and personality. His sculptures unify decision, unification, synthesis. They become symbols of rapid intuition, knowledge and perception. In them speed and rectitude are correctly unified, allowing representation to assume a dynamic sense rather than a formal one. The blade is the shaft of light that illuminates and opens a closed space. It is the sun-ray, the fertilizing element that splits images, without confusing them and reducing them to a level of pure abstraction.

Which other material better than glass - characterized by the laws of transparency, luminousity and pureness - could allow a work of aesthetic investigation based on the dynamics of light to function? Some of A.M.’s blades seem to be at a standstill, directed downwards. Others seem to be moving, destined to transfix a goal. Like the stair the blade is also a symbol of the exchange between sky and earth. When it is directed downwards, the blade becomes an attribute of divine power, like primitive lightning, a ray of light or fecundating rain. In some mythological tales the human beings that gods utilised to fulfil their wishes were called “the quivered sons”.

For this reason the blade became the symbol of destiny with its flashing and sudden fulfilment, but it was also the symbol of love because of the phallic form it portrayed. A blade penetrates the center like the male element penetrates the female element unifying themselves in ying and yang. Mystically it is the same because they represent a union, a divine answer to the questions of mankind. A clear example of this is found in the art of interpreting the shooting of an arrow - a practice still in use among some Arab tribes. When the blades are directed upwards, they are connected to the symbols of verticality.

A.M.’s glassworks vary in their aspects due to the different reflections and incidences of light, appearing to manifest a constant intervention of forces. A.M. uses metal not only as a support but as an integral structure for his sculptures. The noun metal derives from the noun Me or Mes: the ancient noun Man gave to the moon.

It is known that the moon doesn’t have its own light. Its light comes from the reflection of the sun-rays. The moon sets its configuration as a symbol - of periodicity and renewal, of transformation and growth, of passing of time, of inderect, progressive and cold knowledge, of the dreaming and the unconscious - against the linearity of the sun-rays. In this way the glass blades assume qualities of a pure element that frees itself from the unrefined mineral, a metaphor for the spirit that frees itself from the substance to become visibile. If we consider what spirituality is in art, the beneficial aspect of this spiritual tension will be based on the purification and the transmutation, but also on the cosmological function of the transformer. All metals are subject to transformations. In alchemy the aim of these transformations is to take away the breath leaving absolute pureness.

The fusion of the metals - and the glass - is comparable to death. The breath is comparable to virtue: the nucleus and spirit of the matter. In fact, once they are settled inside the metal A.M.’s blades seem to somehow free themselves from the metal detaching themselves from every material good and prejudice to affirm their own will and recover the original innocence. In the end it seems that they almost try to circumscribe a continuous founding and reforming.

Therefore even the choice of the iron has its own importance or role. Iron corresponds to the planet Mars: it is the more appropriate metal to describe this tension of the opposites. Iron is strong, hard, stubborn, rigorous, inflexible, even if all these qualities don’t fully belong to its real characteristics. A metal that has holy and profane values. Its origin could be meteoritic, celestial, as it could be terrestrial, embryonal. But of all the metals it is the most impure and obscure; in apparent contraddiction with life. It gives shelter, but at the same time can be deadly. Metaphorically, the transformation of the matter can only take place with the aid of a sharp tool, clearly antithetical. A sharp tool - while indicating the passage from what is known to what is unknown - measures the time of history.