The Italian Cultural Institute (ICI) in London is pleased to announce a new two-part exhibition, organised in collaboration with ARTUNER, featuring historical works by the Italian sculptor Pietro Consagra. The first part stages a dialogue between Consagra’s most iconic sculptural series and photos of the artist and his work by Ugo Mulas. Ties | Legami opened on Thursday 29th June. This exhibition was made possible thanks to the guidance and cooperation of Archivio Pietro Consagra’s Scientific Committee, who have been instrumental in defining the installation and lending the photographs by Ugo Mulas here on display. We also thank Archivio Ugo Mulas for their expertise. On its opening night, a presentation and walkthrough of the exhibition was led by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, world renowned curator and Director of the Serpentine Galleries. See the installation views here.
Ties | Legami. Pietro Consagra & Ugo Mulas
The Italian Cultural Institute, London
39, Belgrave Square SW1X 8NX
Private view: June 29th, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Introduction by: Hans-Ulrich Obrist
Exhibition Dates: June 30th – Beginning of September, 2017
Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm
This exhibition takes inspiration from sculptor Pietro Consagra and photographer Ugo Mulas’ lifelong friendship and professional partnership, inviting the visitor to consider the variety and uniqueness of certain relationships occurring in the world of art. Their friendship was particularly fruitful, and their joint publication ‘Fotografare l’Arte’ (Photographing Art) stimulates the viewer to imagine correlations between different fields. In his introduction to their book, Umberto Eco states: “In the sculptor’s love for his photographer one can see his gratitude for not subtracting an interlocutor.” Indeed, by being an indexical medium, photography was well in tune with Consagra’s desire to encourage a more direct relationship between sculpture and his audience. As Eco wrote: “It is a trace, like the damp circle a glass leaves on the table, or a footprint in the sand. In the absence of the object it tells us that there where the sign is there had existed an object as source of luminous rays.” Ugo Mulas’ photographs of Consagra really do bring the sculptor’s artworks to life; they offer intimate insight into Consagra’s world and creative process: from ideation, to creation and, finally, to installation.
During the latter half of the 20th century, Pietro Consagra revolutionised the concept of sculpture by creating artworks that were almost two-dimensional, engendering a new, subversive relationship with the viewer and the environment. Their surfaces are neither smooth nor volumetric, but composed of extremely thin, overlapping slabs. These sculptures, as the critic Giulio Carlo Argan wrote, “truly create a new relationship between the object and the space it inhabits, […] incorporating in the environment works that do not solely mirror it, but alter it.” Consagra’s ‘Ferri Trasparenti’ series deals with a crisis of representation: striving to dispose of an authoritarian centre, these sculptures metaphorically represent the deepest layers of the human soul, increasingly fragile, increasingly more precarious, from a strictly frontal perspective, that is, open to a direct relationship with the beholder. The ‘Ferri Trasparenti’ are emblematic of Consagra’s oeuvre: their frontal approach is part of a wider vision of the artist, who envisioned a whole city – the Frontal City – built according to the same principles of mobility, transparency, and ephemerality. Furthermore, the visitor’s journey will be accompanied by the artist’s preparatory drawings of the sculptures, a rarely seen yet fundamental element to understanding Consagra’s work.
Pietro Consagra has been exhibited widely during his lifetime, including at eleven editions of La Biennale di Venezia. Here at the Italian Cultural Institute, viewers will be able to imagine what visitors to the 36th Venice Biennial experienced when walking amongst ‘Trama’, Consagra’s monumental sculptures, thanks to Ugo Mulas’ photographic documentation, a maquette of the artworks and a full-scale floor plan of the original installation. Part of his artistic credo, an unmediated relationship between the viewer and his art was a fundamental tenet of Pietro Consagra’s practice, which sought to embrace a more direct mode of interaction between art and audience.
The second part of the exhibition, which will take place in September 2017, will feature work by Chinese artist Cui Jie and by French artist Marine Hugonnier who will present new works from her acclaimed series ‘Art for Modern Architecture’ and ‘Towards Tomorrow’, in response to Pietro Consagra’s sculptures.