Claudio Pieroni

Studio Bocchi

Claudio Pieroni’s installation here, Pulpito (Pulpit, 1989), was deceptive. At first glance it brought to mind a dialogue between the artwork and the space, as well as the cold, minimal language that characterizes the last generation of Italian artists. But the piece was a trompe l’oeil, like many that Pieroni uses in his work. The large structure (a pulpit in iron supported by imposing columns and topped by a large grating covered with stones) might recall the euphoria of neo-Minimalism, just as the column of metal screens—filled with river stones—might bring to mind both a certain poverismo and elements of Susana Solano’s work. It is equally true that the only reason for the enormous pulpit to exist seemed to be its dissolution in the play of the stones’ outlines, projected on the ceiling of the gallery. In the case of the column, it was the aerial and almost insubstantial grating that contained and compressed the compact, heavy forms of the stones.

This installation had yet another element that made it more apparent still that we were confronting a rather anomalous and autonomous exploration. These were the sheets of music paper, marked by the writing “duet” of Pieroni and the critic Bruno Corà. These seemed to hang, or rather to rest, on the wall that separated the structure and the sculpture, and in their unexpected flagrancy they seemed to recall the unrestrainable writing of Fluxus artists. It is no accident that earlier Pieroni had investigated the boundaries between art and music. He had invented and built sculptures with unexpected sonorous qualities, such as Strumenti dell’Olimpo (Instruments of Olympus, 1988), mixing vibrations of metal with ceramic sound boxes. The form dissolved in the sound, and the sound redesigned the space.

Space as an infinite continuum was also the true protagonist of this ambiguous and paradoxical installation. Materials, signs, objects, and natural elements served not only to define and to occupy the space, but also to multiply it, to make it fluid and enveloping. Their language is lyrical, extraordinarily light, luminous, and Mediterranean, as are Pieroni’s declarations and the dialogue between the four characters (ancient monks or ancient philosophers?) whom Corà invoked to comment upon the show. According to the artist, intelligence is extinct, as are “the methods of organization of thought.” For his part, Pieroni seems to pursue the vaguest messages of intuition, of imagination, of poetry. These are the tools that allow him to use indiscriminately sculpture, music, drawing, writing, and finally found objects of obvious dadaist influence, like the small gilded cookies exhibited in the second room of the gallery. But this is not the path of post-Modern eclecticism; it is rather a journey through the rich territory of the avant-garde. It is an experimentation that neither can nor desires to recognize limits and boundaries. Even if it is no longer possible to propose this libertarian dream, the revolutionary ideology, or the total utopia of every past avant-garde, Pieroni declares that it is still possible to seek freedom in the territory of the imaginary, of the dream, of poetry, of the musicality of forms.

Alessandra Mammì

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore