Critics’ Picks

View of “Pino Pascali,” 2017.

Milan

Pino Pascali

Fondazione Carriero
Via Cino del Duca, 4
March 24 - June 24

In a 1967 interview, artist Pino Pascali said, “The Negro sculptures have such a clarity and force that they enthrall me, they possess me. At the moment, all the art books I buy are on this subject.” Revisiting this statement as well as others by the Italian artist, “Pascali sciamano” (Pascali Shaman) juxtaposes his works with a selection of traditional artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa. Despite his anthropological background, the show’s curator, Francesco Stocchi, has deliberately turned away from expected categories concerning tribal objects, instead freely intermingling ritual sculptures and everyday items. The goal of the show is to stage the evocative but vague notion of Africa that aroused Pascali’s enthusiasm and, in doing so, to highlight the “primitive” elements the artist sought to imbue in his work, as gleaned from his stylized totemic animals (Bucranio [Bucranium] and Serpente [Serpent], both 1966), evocations of exotic nature (Liane [Lianas], 1968), and rustic artifacts created with the materials of industrial society (Cesto [Basket] and Cavalletto [Sawhorse], both made from steel wool in 1968).

Is this a legitimate curatorial approach? With the advent of postcolonial theory, the intuitive and purely aesthetic criteria that inspired this selection of African artifacts, we know, is problematic. However, the show proposes (both programmatically and in its exhibition didactics) that we might accept it as a reflection of Pascali’s way of seeing, and as a presentation of a lesser-known yet still interesting side of his artistic concerns. In the end, the selection of Pascali’s works alone justifies the exhibition, since it includes loans from important private and public collections such as the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, spectacular installations (Cinque bachi da setola e un bozzolo [Five Bristleworms and a Cocoon], 1968), and rarely exhibited pieces (such as two wonderful Cigni [Swans], 1966).

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.