Paola Bonani

Sculpture painting is the title that Giuliano Giuliani has given to a small series of recent works. A title that reveals the ambiguous nature of that otherwise indefinable space, from which its vocation as a sculptor has drawn constant food: a space in which the tension proper to all his work originates, which arises from the stone, grave and heavy, and becomes an image, light and incorporeal. In the sculptures, all dated to 2010, the travertine that Giuliani extracts from the family cave in Colle San Marco, above Ascoli Piceno, is transformed dali long and patient work of the artist into a thin sheet, a few centimeters thick, from imperfectly rectangular perimeter. Stone sheets hanging on the wall, just like paintings.

The small cracks, the falls of the material that here and there appear on these surfaces, sometimes involuntary consequences of the excavation work, other times underlined volutes of an imperfection, reveal to us the true nature of the matter of which these works are made, leading the our glance from the surface, smooth and uniformly traversed by light, to the three dimensions of the surrounding space: in those lacerated points we can perceive the concrete body of the sculpture, the true encumbrance of the material, which is reflected in the black shadow on the wall behind. Elements of the opposite sign appear in some works that the artist makes the following year, such as Tre fusi, Aghi and Quattro colli. Also these works consist of thin sheets of stone anchored to the wall.

But on their surface there are three or four protrusions, reminiscent of the slight extroflections of the Gobbi by Alberto Burri, where the canvas of the painting protrudes slightly in the three dimensions through the pressure exerted on the back of the frame by the branch of a tree. The rhythmic trend of these reliefs also recalls the succession of cadences of the Waits of Lucio Fontana. Significant suggestions towards two artists who, in different ways, have founded much of their work on the forcing of the spatial and material limits of painting. Likewise, since its inception, Giuliani has worked hard to probe and overcome the limits traditionally imposed on sculpture, keeping at the same time distant from the magniloquence linked to its material encumbrance, as well as from the emphasis of the representation. At the end of the long journey that for years has involved him in a close confrontation with the subject, in a constant attempt to bend the roughness of the stone to his ideas, in this group of works made between 2010 and 2011, Giuliani has come a step from reducing the sculpture to its opposite, the two-dimensional plane, without thickness, without shadow.

But this reduction is never complete and is immediately disavowed by the artist's own intervention that has so tenaciously sought after it: all these surfaces, never completely uniform and regular, come to life precisely in the relationship they establish with the space that surrounds them, through the holes, the lacerations, the falls of matter and the protrusions that counterbalance the planes. And so elsewhere they are more decisively curved, like pages of rolled paper, and fold, like cloth delicately bent in two, in the forms of works such as the 2010 Doni and the 2011 Flags. In these works the stone, dug up to shrink in fabric, film, leather, it returns to welcome space within itself. He returns more openly to declare his identity as a sculpture, a shell, a womb, and perhaps a cave, the place from which the action of the man at the origin he has tenaciously tore from. Giuliani seems to have achieved in these works a greater essentiality of image, a greater degree of abstraction. In their simplicity these sheets betray the high degree of awareness of their own means and of the characteristics inherent to the stone that Giuliani has conquered in thirty years of work. The artist seems to have achieved such technical knowledge and manual skill that he no longer needs to conceive complex images to express himself.

The mental clarity of the path to take translates into the evidence of the concept expressed: gestures are refined, the images are simplified. And yet they never completely separate themselves from reality, brought back there by the evocative power of the titles that the artist attributes to it, in which one always perceives a distant echo of the world from which they come and of which they belong. In these recent works also the relationship with the space appears more discreet, less openly declared compared to the works that Giuliani has realized between the end of the nineties and the first half of the following decade, as Flowers by K. Blossfeldt (1996), Gilberto and Elmo (1997), He is risen - Spirali (2004-2006) or Grande Gennaio (2005-2006). Because of their link with the wall they lean on, they recall to memory some of his first fully mature works, such as La vela, L'Africa, L'amoeba or Lo scudo. A group of sculptures all of 1991, all in travertine, some with plaster inserts, in which the artist has developed for the first time his particular technique of working with stone, which will remain, like the material, a constant of all his research.

Once the block has been extracted from the wall of the quarry, Giuliani sculpts a surface and transfers the image of the sculpture on it as it has configured in his mind. Later, instead of closing the form in a volume, with a long and tiring work, digs the back of this same image to reduce the block to a film of a few millimeters in thickness, to deny the same nature of stone, the his weight, his resistance. «Obsessive, patient is the process of dematerialization, of excavation, of emptying with which he transforms the compact and hard block into a thin sheet with modular movements. The restlessness of doing is calmed by the attainment of the luminous transparency of a sheet of stone, freely modeled, "he wrote, speaking of his works, Carlo Lorenzetti. Travertine is thus transformed into a membrane, through which cracks pass air and light. In the late nineties, the stone thus emptied, dematerialized, abandons the wall support in two new sculptures that Giuliani created in 1997, Ostia and Gilberto and Elmo. These works further specify two perspectives of his research. The former responds openly to the intention, repeatedly declared by the artist, to give to his works a meaning that transcends them.

 As already happened with Il tempio (1990-91), with L'ambone (1994-96), and how it will happen with the Montagna Cattedrale (1998), with the Porta (2000) and more recently with L'Angelo (2009) ), Ostia through the evocation of a symbol recalls the celebration of the rite, that is of that unique moment in which the human dimension seeks to overcome itself and enter into communication with the supernatural and the divine. The traces of this tension are impressed by Giuliani in the matter itself, in its change of state, in the alchemical transformation of the stone into a surface permeable to light and air, in the elimination of the waste in search of the virtuous soul of the stone. "If I do not have the natural written Giuliani - I do not have, nor do I find the supernatural".With Gilberto and Elmo, however, his sculpture establishes a more definite relationship with the space in which it is inserted, as it will also happen in Senza titolo (2001), created for the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture of Torre Martiniana di Cagli, or in the recent E 'risen - Spirali (2004-2006). In these works the slab of travertine wraps in sinuous movements, its volutes surround the outer space and move it through a more tight alternation between areas of light and points of shadow. Giuliani's stone, laboriously freed from its encumbrance and its weight, spreads out in space, captures it and moves it, giving the observer a new perception of the place where the sculpture is inserted. Two perspectives, two ways, two dimensions, the fruitful ambiguity we mentioned at the beginning, which still feeds his work, which keeps his images suspended between reality and abstraction, between materiality and lightness, between darkness and light, between epiphany and mystery. That double way that, in the image of our being in the world, passes from the light and shiny bulges of Falsopiano (20111 and Veste (2011), to the articulated folds of the Niche (2011) .There are still two parts that make up the body of this 'work, one of the latest created by the artist: permeable to air and light, fragile and light the upper part, closed, hidden, invisible to the eye and anchored to the ground that below
 
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