From 7 November 2015 to 10 January 2016, Fondazione Prada presents an anthological exhibition devoted to Gianni Piacentino (Turin, 1945).
Curated by Germano Celant, the solo show is hosted on the two levels of the Podium – the building at the center of the Fondazione’s architectural compound – and comprises more than 90 works, retracing Piacentino’s artistic path in anti-chronological order, starting from his most recent works from 2015 and working its way backwards to those from 1965.
Piacentino’s research began in an artistic and cultural background characterized by an increasing detachment from the subjectivism which had animated Action Painting and Informalism, as well as by the development of a new visual language mixing the attention to pop and consumer imagery and the appreciation for both geometrical and primary forms. His work, however, did not embrace either of the dominant tendencies of those times – Pop art and Minimal art – but, according to the original reading of his work provided in this exhibition, generated a dialectic process between the two.
In order to research the terrain where these two currents converge, Piacentino turned to the world of velocity and transportation including cars, motorcycles and planes, all products of pop culture which, while not part of the realm of pure art, are expressions of industrial aesthetics. In this respect, the artist approaches the aerodynamic fantasies of many Californian artists: from Billy Al Bengston to Craig Kauffman, from John Mc Cracken to John Goode.
As Germano Celant explains: “It is in this historical climate of oscillation between art and design, handicrafts and industry, the useful and the useless, the one-off piece and the mass-produced object, that we can place the contribution of Piacentino, whose otherness and uniqueness lie precisely in the dialectic between the two poles, Pop and Minimal. Since 1966 his sculptures have been aiming for a result that transcends the functional object, even though the latter remains recognizable as a possible industrial product with decorative characteristics, as it is derived from a culture steeped in applied science, handicrafts and the precision of mechanics and sophisticated engineering processes”.
“At its core, my work always contains the importance of the technical and mathematical control of the result. I don’t allow myself to give way to repressed feelings and emotional drives”, states the artist. His adherence to this is proven by his attraction for the construction discipline, which implies both elegance and perfection, as well as an inclination for complete control over the physical and chromatic features of materials. Throughout his career, the artist has led his own creative process following all the different phases implied in a given industrial production scheme, as happens in the realm of design.
As Germano Celant states, his artistic and aesthetic adventure represents ”an absolute escape from the imperfection, instantaneity and randomness of making art, in order to access a universe of perfection, calculation and concentration that can compete with a motor or flight vehicle, on both a sublime and an absolute level”.