Giuliano Giuliani was born in Ascoli Piceno, in a quarry, a Travertine quarry… The creative desire that was born in me was born, without doubt, during my childhood, and it was born out of an awareness of the abundance of beauty in human nature, and in nature in general. Another sort of awareness is that of the end of things, of loss. That, probably, is the source of religious desire, the redemption of the sacred. If beauty isn’t enough, we seek God.
I have sought him since childhood, because that was my most authentic, most profound response… But then later I focused more on art, even though art lacks resurrection. The breaking off – perhaps by chance – of a piece of a whole of a form arises from its morphology, and from certain weaknesses in the mass, and so there has already been a random or natural choice, there is already a structure, there are already stimuli and there are already presences with which it becomes more or less desirable to interfere and participate. Technologies, the most modern ones, now allow us to cut walls with diamond wire – even walls ten meters high and three meters deep are pulled down and broken up with perforations and spacers in which wedges are inserted. A choice is made based on the demands of the product, the sculptures to be created, and their dimensions. Stones have a soul, and they certainly have a God, travertine in particular – travertine is full of pores, full of life, full of presences. It is born of water and it stratifies, engulfing everything it interacts with, for millennia. So it is a blackboard of history, of time, of lived experience. Each time it opens up, a world appears… The mass of rock is an almost-complete substance, a story in which a God can hide. In some civilizations, in some religions, God presents himself in stones.
The choice of this material, full of life as it is, serves to help me identify, to conceive, a presence in the essence. My forms are like the footprints of someone who’s left a testimonial… if I have to identify this sacredness, this presence, I’ll always find it in swellings, in concave or convex, hollowed-out, extremely thin forms where you can see a transparency, a possible illumination, a light that may be cut, or strong or weak or barely evident; it is within this light that we find the presence “of the invisible.”
Stone often suggests things, in terms of figure, and abstraction, and for any sort of effect, because making the entire product completely on my own, doing all of the sculpture myself, it’s clear that I enter into symbiosis, a constant relationship, a “hand-to-hand combat”, as many have said – a hand-to-hand encounter with the material, and with the various phases: the formation using archaic tools, the various “sledge hammers, gauges and picks”, and then when I come in with grinders; that’s the moment that’s most intense, but also sensual, because there’s the surface which in the end, when the polishing disc is passed over it, suddenly and surprisingly creates the definition of the piece. Travertine is a material linked to earthiness; it doesn’t have the shininess of granite, that hint of luxury; it has a connection to a genuineness, and clarity and beauty.
As I see it, for sculptors in particular, everything starts with an awareness of the beauty of the universe and the anguish of loss. That’s the source of the religious, completely Michelangelo-esque sense of mystical fulfillment, the link with religious redemption, and the – I think sculptural – urgency to create; there’s the whole origin, the fulfillment of constructing, of molding. In sculpture, at least for me, there’s this physical obligation, this involvement of the body that lies at the basis of every construction, in this case sculptural.
These are really classic concepts that can be shared by someone who, say, is born in a quarry and sees men sweating in the sun, covered in mud… and feels the need to express forms and values, aesthetics and ethics… he needs the body, and he needs sweat.