Giuliano Giuliani. Material transparencies reveal divine fascinations, 2005 in Artistic itineraries 2004-2005
Annali Fondazione Staurós Italiana Onlus VI, curated by Carlo Chenis,
Editions Staurós 2005 Various authors
1. Introduction Giuliano Giuliani, born in Ascoli Piceno in 1954, is considered among the most promising sculptors of his generation. He graduated at the Art Institute of Ascoli and at the Academy of Fine Arts of Macerata, sculpture section. He has had several solo shows and has participated in many group shows. They wrote about him among others: Apa, Appella, Canova, Carrino, Chenis, Collarile, D'Amico, Lorenzetti, Melloni, Perfetti, Rossi, etc. He has collaborated with Staurós and with the Biennale of contemporary religious art. His technical and human qualities, the poetic quality and the inner strength of his work are highly esteemed. "The extreme synthesis of his works - as Marina Bon says - reflects the incisive and at the same time shy and reserved character of this artist, who was very appropriately defined by the critics" stone singers ".
With the stone Giuliani has in fact a maieutic relationship: "He listens to you, interprets it, he talks to you; and confronts it, sometimes even dramatically, in the effort to solve it, to make it live by helping it to support its natural vocation to be a work of art. [...] It is a simple, strong sign that alludes to the eternity of nature and invites meditation and the search for spirituality. Travertine is a limestone rock, a stratification of chemical deposits molded over time, from atmospheric agents and therefore vital and dynamic. The figure emerges from the unfinished stone as in a transfiguration of matter and gradually becomes the object of construction and deconstruction of meanings. The poetics of Giuliani does not stop at the cagiante colors of travertine but embraces the nature as a whole, sublime divine expression and involves the man, guardian and simulacrum of beauty. While the natural element is expressed in its multiple perspectives of meaning in the attempt to trace a spiritual quality of matter, man is reflected and subtended, nuanced in its forms and coupled with landscape elements. A complex aesthetic language that feeds on signs and metaphors, combining different materials ". (M. Bon, sculptors at Brufa, Artemidi Servizi, Brufa - PG, 2001).
2. The crib for the rock church Madonna delle Virtù in Matera, 2004
2.1. The enchanted crib by Giuliano Giuliani
There was a huge distance between a light and the other staring at me in the instant that crossed the white jamb from one side very white from the other. Paolo Volponi A perfect, magnetic and enchanting theatrical machine, the one raised by Giuliani in the ascetic space of the Ascoli countryside, where the naturalistic element is each time absorbed by concave and convex forms in strong opposition, alternated with simple geometric elements that set an extraordinary harmony. Travertine, made transparent by a long work that, through the perfection of the material, wants to free the sculpture from any figurative reminiscence, is presented in compartments divisible and grouped in a large circle of three meters in diameter, swollen or rippled by thin air infraticed on the hill of the Nativity. There is no shadow of dramatic conquest of space in this Crib that, in the whole and the detachment of the undulating surfaces where the three Magi stand out, the shepherd's tent and the stable, renounces the snappy structures to remain faithful to a majestic shape. Giuliani's vision is detached and moved together. The actors that revolve around the river are those of the archaic group of figures drawn as a single figure, schematized to the point of losing almost entirely individuality, from the shepherd put on the same line of the stable, of the tent facing the Three Kings, of the surrendered star monument of the event: a cradle-manger-imprint of Jesus whose Nativity, recovering a visual mobility, stands on the hill ready to make the whole theatrical machine and the characters that compose it active, to acquire that power and that unexpected relief that they compose its hieratic monumentality. The characters stand out imposingly in the open space as a form of our everyday life, the result of an immemorial humanism that continually recalls timeless symbols, joins the ancient to the modern, the study of the model and the inner vision. Merit of the subtlety and finesse of the compositional details from the veined travertine stamp to the vibration of the profiles, both precarious and solidly articulated, well beyond the established forms. In fact, the three Magi and Pastore prolong the image of walking, as well as the Nativity its internal movement, beyond the preordained module, using at most the meager power that matter, without supports and deductions, emanates from itself. Sudden cuts, voids, fragility and tears to the plastic fabric correspond to the block of calcareous rock, porous and yellowish, from which they come and not to a technical expedient. Therefore, surfaces and volumes, by means of singular connubi, activate at a continuous rhythm, according to the incidence of light and the presence of one or two colors, changing modulations that accentuate the effect of lightness and the focus of real elements and imaginary in an organic synthesis validated by the unity of style and the emotion of a "Birth" that Giuliani intends to transmit, almost the immense space of time had been overcome in a moment.
2.2. A stone Crib between the Sassi di Matera, 2005
In the "Madonna delle Virtù" rock church in Matera, in the old Sassi area, from December 2004 to January 2005, the sculptor from Ascoli Piceno, Giuliano Giuliani, exhibited his own Crib, impressive travertine work realized at the invitation of the critic art Giuseppe Appella of Rome. In the same city, he also presented works in paper, drawings and mixed techniques at the "La Scaletta" club. I met Giuliani before and after this exhibition. I could see how much he worked on this work, how much he held you. Travertine is his favorite material, he knows how to face it, how to support it; he knows all the secrets. Technically, as he says, he has created "a place of a circumference of three meters consisting of eight slabs of travertine with a thickness of a few millimeters where valleys, hills and caves are determined". The characters dominate the place. In the foreground, above the cave, there is the Nativity that from the top of a hill dominates the whole place. The Nativity is defined in symbolic formula: a veil of stone that is modulated in transparencies. It is the most spiritual of the figures, so it occupies the highest place. Then the crib degrades in a spiral movement along which the characters are placed, made more and more real in relation to their spirituality or physicality. The most spiritual realities are symbolic, the other more descriptive. The ox and the donkey are on the same level as the Nativity and the manger and Jesus, because they participate in the same event. The ox and the donkey are two completely empty elements; they contrast with an idea of fullness and are opposed to each other. The figure of Jesus adheres perfectly to the manger, in symbiosis like an imprint. The Three Wise Men are defined in three forms that express a dynamism, an advance, with details that refer to oriental values. The tree and the bush of the landscape below are defined by the same root that develops a trunk that, on the one hand, ends up as a palm, on the other, as a symbol of the tree of the cross. Do not miss the shepherd, keeper of a silent flock, solved in travertine and polyurethane. Next to it is a pyramidal tent, defined with four convex plates of three millimeters each. The star, finally, with a diagonal cut at the base, overhangs and crosses a hill. A river cuts one side and is made of resin and blue pigment. Testimoni Giuliani: "It was a very demanding job for me. The idea came to me in the church of Santa Chiara in Assisi, the Nativity frescoed in the presbytery. Idea that I interpreted as coming, as a descent and so I suggested all the symbolism of the crib. I tried to avoid the references and details of the individual figures. In conclusion, I can affirm that the theme of the sacred is the one that currently involves me the most ". This work is a kind of summa of Giuliani's activity. Of particular note is the image of the Nativity which, at the top of the hill, stands out as the sacral stone of a supernatural event. The travertine made transparent and luminous in the Christ that comes, almost with glimmers of light that delineate the image, has been worked and reduced to thin and filtering film. A suspended and impalpable climate hovers around the Nativity.
The characters are symbolic; the symbolic element merges with the figural object, as it comes down from the nativity to the characters and traditional places of the nativity scene, with its natural scenes, such as the watercourse, the caves of the shepherds, the characters of the individual crafts. With the Nativity it is the stone that reclaims its redemption. It is an unexpected and unusual gesture, that of the artist, who takes care to highlight its forms and possibilities. In an essential space, "swollen and rippled", appear plastic and symbolic figures, like perfect extras of a "theatrical machine" - finds Appella - which fixes the "event" before the spectator's gaze, surprised and stupefied, and at the conscience who awakens before an invoked possibility of redemption. What does this stone nativity scene announce among the Sassi? It is the same Gospel to say it, putting it in the mouth of the stones. Indeed, in fact, animated presences of the spirit, the coming of Christ can no longer remain silent. On the contrary, they will "shout" it, if the human voice is silent. Giuliani has given body to this "cry", he has transformed words into stones, to change man in spirit. He has elevated the expectation of Christ and the urgency of faith to poetic numbers. It is the task of art, a new angelic version of the announcement, that of witnessing, that is, of keeping the Glory and the Word awake.
3. The baptismal sign for the sanctuary complex of San Gabriele dell'Addolorata
3.1. Levite signs, 2004
Lightness seems to be the ideal pursued by Giuliano Giuliani in his long work on stone, on a plastic art that, now disconnected from the iconic reference, tries to lose the weight constraint and move away from the corporeity of sculpture, from the burden of his physical constraints, in a search for the elusive limit that stands between a presence close to the absolute, the disappearance, and the annulment. Travertine (a material favored by the sculptor for a long family tradition) is used by Giuliani as a challenge, a fight against the resistance of the rock, its age-old stratifications, against its heavy and ponderous essence that must be overcome and transformed into a shining essence, marked by grace and levity. Giuliani looks for sinuous shapes almost without thickness, as if the stone was suddenly transformed into a paper modeled by an oriental hand, in a wreath of flowers composed of an invisible nymph, in the perfection of the sublimated material in its purest element. Since works such as Il tempio (1990-91) or L'Eremo (1993) and up to sculptures such as Altare and Cattedrale (1998), Giuliani tries to re-establish the relationship between sculpture and the sacred, transporting it in an almost architectural dimension in the openings mark the travertine as thresholds that lead to the center of the unknown, doors that open towards a silent dimension of the ineffable.
3.2. Ancestral remembrance, 2004
Giuliani expresses the sacredness of art through the qualified processing of travertine. The travertine work is the traditional technique reconfirmed in the conscience of the contemporaneity that also includes the conceptuality, that is the possibility that it comes precisely the manuality of the work, simply, denied, eliminated. As the artist states: "Everything has a taste of something that is missing from the already done". The new and the already done. In the martinian and maritime constitution of his work, Giuliani has won a very valid position right at the crossroads of the languages of dexterity and conceptuality. Giuliani, living in the Marche region, summarizes the critical accounts of the work of Trubbiani and Peschici. He is a Piceno sculptor in the historical-anthropological sense. For this reason, he recalls the epicity of the imaginative adventure that builds, in the iconologies shown, the justification of an entire artistic territory, of a whole geography of art. He attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Macerata, he taught sculpture and modeling in Urbino and Ascoli Piceno, he participated in the most important exhibitions since the eighties. His work for the Fourth Biennial of Contemporary Sacred Art is an example of the religiosity with which he deconstructs and reconstructs the sacred of dexterity within the conscious conceptuality of the artistic process. The Cross is seen, it is grasped as a spatial example of the baptismal font, inside a huge enormous cup, a travertine basin; in the center, in relief, the Cross is scratched. All this to be placed in the clear water that fills the cup-container in half. As with Anish Kapoor's sculpture, the stone is emptied, filled with air, emptiness. Thus discovered, emptied, the cup is filled with water as if it were a rough and elementary holy water font, an ancestral baptismal font from the early centuries of Christianity. As in the famous Pozzi di Pistoletto exhibited at the Spazio dell'Immagine in Foligno, in '67, here too we must expose ourselves, advance with our faces and sink into the intimacy of the vessel, of the stone; it is necessary to delve into ourselves and to discover the light, the enlightenment that decides the sign of meaning: the jagged icon imprinted inside the water-stone of our conscience, of our secret and intimate personality. The work of Giuliani scratches the sclerosis of iconography and re-evaluates the sharing of the other from the self, to bring out the veracity of the icon of the Cross: source of water that quenches the otherwise lost and secularized Samaritan water source called the New Baptism, which translates our certain Perdition into the possibility of the New Covenant. Sacred work in the properly stylistic, epochal sense; in the sense of the ecstatic unveiling of the icon that expresses