Giuliano Giuliani's research has recently been defined as countercurrent.1 Because Giuliani has chosen for his work as a sculptor a material, travertine, and a technique considered in many ways anachronistic. They were perhaps already forty years ago, when the artist began to work, and they are even more so today that the languages of art are increasingly dependent on sophisticated technological systems.
In the seventies, when Giuliani began his training program, attending first the State Art Institute of Ascoli Piceno and then the Academy of Fine Arts of Macerata, the watchword among the researches considered then more advanced was " dematerialization ".2 A term that highlighted the widespread tendency to minimize the physical presence of the work of art.
Already since the end of the previous decade, the widespread diffusion of conceptual attitudes, for which the idea acquired primary importance at the expense of its subsequent practical realization, had led to a progressive reduction of the material body of the works, to make their object presence sometimes non-existent, in any case inessential to fully grasp the meaning of the works themselves. "A contemporary painting or sculpture - Harold Rosenberg wrote in those years - is a kind of centaur, half made of artistic materials and half of words. The latter constitute the vital and stimulating element, capable among other things of making each material artistic. "3 Nothing was then, and still is today, more distant from the work of Giuliano Giuliani, who has never questioned, in forty years of research, the importance of matter, the strength linked to its size, the value of manual labor and the physical effort that the material itself forces you, and above all the total and complete autonomy of meaning of the work in submitting to our senses with its mere object presence. Despite the early discovery of his vocation, which led him to exhibit for the first time in 1975, barely twenty years old, the young Giuliani does not suffer then, nor will ever suffer (partly protected by his voluntary isolation on the Marche hills), the charm of those research that in the seventies, and then in the following decades, was aimed at imagining and implementing always new and heterodox languages for art.
Giuliani begins to confront the stone even before he realized that the material will become his obsession and ecstasy. The first meeting is rooted in the years of youth, when he helped his father and uncle in the family cave in Colle San Marco, above Ascoli Piceno. There he learns the technical procedures necessary to work travertine and becomes familiar with the tools useful for this difficult undertaking. There he discovers how much patience and hard work are needed to bend this material to one's imagination. A will, his, which proves so far from avant-garde experiments, as from the certainties of the academy. Already his earliest works, those anatomical particulars, in which the human figure is reduced in fragments and barely recognizable portions, in fact, "show the appreciable tendency to emerge from certain emphatic and purovisualistic schemes, typical of a type of academic sculpture" .4
The precedents Giuliani watches, avidly browsing through his youthful years books and catalogs and visiting exhibitions and museums, are those who, even though in time, feel he is adhering to his personal conception of the work of sculptor: Arturo Martini, Costantin Brancusi, and then the English sculptors, first of all Henri Moore: "Moore seems to interest him above all the conjuncture - occurred in the British group 'Unit One' - which sees the sculptor next to the 'organic' inclinations of compatriot Barbara Hepworth" .5
At the end of the eighties and the beginning of the next decade, when the most mature phase of his research was inaugurated, Giuliani partly abandoned these first suggestions. Between 1990 and 1991 he produced works such as Il tempio, La vela, L'amoeba, L'Africa. All sculptures in which his intervention on the subject becomes more invasive. The stone then loses the shape of a closed body and opens itself to the space. In these works, the travertine block, excavated on two sides, is reduced to a film a few millimeters thick
The stone is transformed into a vibrating membrane. The air and the light pass through its imperfections, through the unexpected falls of matter and through the holes and folds that the sculptor procures to the stone with his direct intervention. Without answering to any conceptual postulate, but certainly aware of the modern labor that has stung the sculpture throughout the twentieth century (from the sentence, at the dawn of the century, of Baudelaire "la sculpture est ennuyeuse" up to the "dead language sculpture" of Martini) , Giuliani operates a process of "dematerialization" all within the specific language he has chosen. "Because of raising", as Leon Battista Alberti wrote, he succeeds in giving sculpture a new life, a new way, a new vocabulary of possible forms. The body of the sculptures becomes lighter and, through the involuntary falls of matter or the openings imposed by the artist's intervention, comes to understand the space within itself, a reflection of the distant but capital lesson of the "cuts" and "holes" of Lucio Fontana. Giuliani then experiments and explores for sculpture the new dimension of the plane, of the frontal vision, a radical position inaugurated and widely theorized by Pietro Consagra. And from that position, in the most recent works such as Tre fusi, Aghi, Quattro colli, Gocce, on whose surface syncopated rhythms of protruding shapes rise, Giuliani also compares himself with those researches aimed at probing the limits of the surface in painting and of the plane in sculpture, which in a different way have seen many artists engaged after World War II. A fruitful line that includes the Gobbi by Alberto Burri, the "bende" by Scarpitta, the extroflexions of the canvas by Agostino Bonalumi, up to the shaped canvases by Pino Pascali, and in the sculptural setting the "travel sculptures" by Bruno Munari, the Metalli by Francesco Lo Savio, the sinuous surfaces of Gio 'Pomodoro and the thin irons by Carlo Lorenzetti.
As matter becomes lighter and lighter, the images of Giuliani's mature works remain suspended between the figure and the abstract sign, no longer fragments of bodies but slight stylized shapes. Traces barely mentioned in forms, symbols (archetypes, one would think in some cases) materialize to the eye especially thanks to the evocative titles that the artist always chooses to give to his works: Ostia, Nuovo tamburo, Cuore, Doppia, Ramio, Niche, Gift. And then there are L'eremo, Monte, Valle, Falsopiano and Cime. I do not know if Giuliani has read René Daumal's novel entitled the Monte Analogo, the story of a mad and fascinating attempt to reach "the way that unites the Earth to the Sky", but certainly the constant reference to the mountain image can not be justified only from an imaginary that has its roots in the Marches landscape. Rather, these titles become metaphors of a path that is uphill, made of roughness and fatigue, which always tends to a peak, which tests the body and finally raises it, and with the body elevates the spirit.
From the compact, heavy and huge stone wall Giuliani manages to bring out mild images. With his intervention the artist frees (literally) from inert matter otherwise invisible figures. In this sense the definition of "technique" given by Heidegger adheres perfectly to his work. The "technique" is for the German philosopher "a way of unveiling". Heidegger connects "the Greek word techne to another of the decisive words of the philosophical thought of the origins, the word aletheia (usually translated with 'truth') which, rethought according to its etymological form (a-letheia), comes from him understood as a 'unveiling' (Un-verborgenheiti): a bringing things into appearing (a phenomenology) that is maintained in a necessary relationship with the dark and indomitable background (the lethe contained in the word a-letheia) from which they are drawn out ".6 Through the technique, the man, and therefore the artist," has always been involved in an essential way (so that it concerns his being more proper) in a planning movement that aims to bring those things into the presence. that they do not have the power to take them by themselves because they do not depend directly on the self-generative force that the Greeks called physis ".7
Through the technique man is able to bring to light how much nature itself does not show. Through his work Giuliani reveals to our gaze and our senses what the belly of the mountain hides. This is why he learned to probe the immense walls and choose the stone based on the image he wants to give shape to. It is important, he explains, "to find the stone according to the project or idea, to the morphological structure with its peculiarity of compactness, strength, porosity, hardness, etc. Each field is different and sometimes, even at a distance of a few meters, the structure of the mass and the color change ".8
Without a doubt, Giuliano Giuliani moves against the current. In a world where everyone is constantly connected, he lives isolated in the silence of the family quarry where he grew up. In a world where everything is produced and consumed quickly, he patiently searches for his stones and works them for a long time, with the help of only his hands and a few other tools, and transforms travertine into long-lasting puffs of air as only the rock can be. Giuliani repeats day by day the same gestures, now customary and habitual for him, and for this absolutely vital. "The dust wave satisfies me" he said, revealing the high ethical dimension of his research, which finds full justification in his only being, with no other purpose than to restore spontaneity and simplicity to the art "necessary to achieve depth and intensity ": an aspiration that is as much against the current as shareable.
1 L. Marucci, Giuliano Giuliani between materiality and sacredness, in "HAT", n. 58, autumn-winter 2013, pp. 26-29.
2 L.R. Lippard, J. Chandler, The Dematerialization of the Art, in "Art International", vol. XII, n. 2, February 1968,
pp. 31-36; LR Lippard, Six Years: The dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972 ..., New York 1973.
3 H. Rosenberg, The s-definition of art, Feltrinelli, Milan 1975, p. 51.
4 C. Melloni, Giuliano Giuliani, exhibition catalog, Ascoli Piceno, Galleria Nuove Proposte, 22-29 March 1975.
5 F. D'Amico, Ancient roots and recent thoughts of Giuliano Giuliani, in Giuliano Giuliani. Sculptures and works on paper
(1991-2007), exhibition catalog, Bergamo, Galleria Ceribelli, 27 October-8 December 2007, p. 5.
6 P. Montani, Introduction. Art and technique: old and new forms of disagreement and alliance, in the state of the art.
The aesthetic experience in the era of technology, edited by M. Carboni, P. Montani, Bari 2005, p. 11.
8 L. Marucci, Giuliano Giuliani ..., cit., 26.