View of “Giuseppe Gabellone,” 2018. Foreground: Untitled, 2018. Background: Untitled, 2018. Photo: Roberto Marossi.

View of “Giuseppe Gabellone,” 2018. Foreground: Untitled, 2018. Background: Untitled, 2018. Photo: Roberto Marossi.

Giuseppe Gabellone

For this solo show, Giuseppe Gabellone chose an off-site space, installing three works (all Untitled, 2018) at the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, near Zero’s former location. The two large rooms in a stark, unfurnished industrial space seemed well suited to the extremely sober, almost minimal works that are the artist’s most recent creations. The large windows, moreover, allowed them to be seen in natural light, in keeping with the artist’s usual practice.

Interested in the signifying relationship between a work and its surroundings, Gabellone often inserts his sculptures into the void of expansive spaces in order to activate viewers’ reactions, including physical ones, to the maximum possible extent. In the first room, a large yellow canvas was periodically lowered from a slender metal structure hanging from the ceiling like a curtain that, once entirely drawn, divided the space into two. In its slow descent and ascent, the work functioned as a dynamic element that also introduced a strong chromatic component into the neutrality of the industrial environment.

Next to this work, which played with ideas of verticality and incorporeality, was a piece based on ideas of accumulation, of densification at floor level, and of the lowering of the gaze. A pile of sheets of paper cut into irregular shapes, some with large holes, had been soaked in resin and pigment. Thus solidified, they rested atop one another on a low base, a sort of grid made of bamboo reeds intertwined with ropes. The rigid sheets seemed like letters in some archaic alphabet, while the bamboo structure brought to mind the skilled craftsmanship of some past culture.

The third work, installed in the adjacent room, stood out in dialectical contrast to this evocation of the past. Extremely high-tech in comparison, it was the only piece illuminated by artificial lights, which were an intrinsic part of the work: A pole balanced diagonally on a tall metal tripod supported a row of shining lightbulbs. Although the structure brought to mind the shape of a seesaw, this luminous bar was not mobile but fixed in place. Of course, the work could be observed from numerous viewpoints—visitors could move around it as they could around any other sculpture. But the mobility of the viewer was the only thing that modified this piece, which is not the case with some other works by Gabellone. (Perhaps here, in this adherence to convention, the artist applied the same logic that motivated an earlier group of works: large color photographs of structures built for the sole purpose of being photographed and then existing as two-dimensional icons, as striking as they are ambiguous.) For many viewers, this exhibition probably made its strongest impact through the frontal view of this bright and twisted work, framed by the door of the adjacent room. It exuded a certain sense of sacredness—and yet in an absolutely profane way, which made it no less intense.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.