Giuseppe Maraniello

Imagine constructing a vase, or a nest, from the inside out—this is what Giuseppe Maraniello did for his latest show. Using the bronze supports that are sawed off cast statues, he put together a gigantic framework—more than four meters in diameter—that is not only vase and nest, but also spider’s web, a place where objects become physically entangled. These objects—a spearhead, a drop-shaped alembic, small vases—have comprised his sculptural repertoire since the early ’80s. And yet however physically defined these objects are, they are more a collection of memories and symbols than things or archeological remains. That is, before they are objects, they are archetypal forms, the primary forms of the collective unconscious.

Although Maraniello’s native city, Naples, is a place where myths have developed and cultures have been superimposed on one another, his objects seem even more ancient, indeed timeless. They are the kinds of things that could easily have been found in Etruscan tombs, though it is true that even a jar bought at a department store in some fashion participates in the archetypal memory that Maraniello brings forth. The large, bronze spider’s web becomes a catalyst of forms, a metaphor for making sculpture. The artist encloses himself within a trap, poised to capture the original form, the symbol of all symbols. This is probably why the forms, in the end, are always the same. But there is no boredom in this repetition, just as, conversely, there is no desire to render the pure, Platonic form. This is archaic sculpture, rooted in myth, though it does not construct mythologies or recount ancient sagas. More simply, it presents the eternal return of form.

Finally, passing from metaphor to metaphor, it is “within” the form that the myth is unleashed, and, as one would expect of a sculptor, Maraniello demonstrates this through a material incarnation. A small figure—a centaur, scorpion, or small demon—often sprouts from the vases, the alembics, the eggs, or drops, which are made out of white resin, a visually lighter and more phantasmagorical material than bronze. These figures that hide within or literally leap from the con- fines of the work onto a flexible and thin circle of bronze are the daughters of the primary forms. It is as it Castor and Pollux were emerging from eggs or as if all these forms had emerged from Brancusi’s Newborn (I), 1915. For Maraniello, the tale is the child of form.

Marco Meneguzzo

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.