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September 29, 2022–March 5, 2023
With a focus on his “dark” period, which served as our point of departure in creating the exhibition, choosing the pieces, and framing the dramaturgy of the display in the Cukrarna Gallery in collaboration with the Zerynthia Association for Contemporary Art in Rome, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s exhibition presents a significant portion of the body of work of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Fourth Generation, the name of the exhibition, also alludes to this period, which had a significant impact on the artist’s subsequent activity. The second floor of the exhibition features artwork from this infrequently shown time period, which the artist named Art of Squalor (1985–89) in one of his essays. Along with the drawings, paintings, and sculptures, the exhibition also has a 70-meter-long wall drawing in black that was created on-site by Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts and Design students under the direction of the artist.
The Minus Objects (1965–1966), which were the first signs of the Arte Povera movement’s tendencies, are displayed on the first floor of the gallery, followed by a selection of what are arguably Pistoletto’s best-known works, Mirror Paintings, which range in date from a self-portrait from 1961 to the most recent additions. Pistoletto’s white sculptures from the 1980s are also on display.
The Third Paradise, a project that has been at the center of the artist’s creative preoccupation since 2003, brings the exhibition to a close. The project’s logo is an altered version of the mathematical symbol representing infinity. The artist utilizes the symbol to reflect on the variety of human interactions and to emphasize the significance of reconciliation, of individual accountability, and responsibility for our fellow human beings and nature by placing life at the center of infinity.
Michelangelo Pistoletto is one of the most notable examples of Arte Povera from an art historical perspective. Arte Povera, so named by the Italian critic, thinker, and curator Germano Celant in 1967, began as a critique of the political, economic, and artistic systems of the day, breaking away from the use of conventional materials and techniques in art. Pistoletto’s Minus Objects are an early example of rebelling against the expectations and requirements of the art market and departing from creating commercially appealing, sellable art objects. After finishing the Minus Objects, he created Venus of the Rags, which is arguably his most famous Arte Povera piece (1967).
Pistoletto has made a very distinctive impression on the cultural landscapes of both Italy and the rest of the world with his initiatives, intellectual pursuits, and talent for fostering human connection. In his native Biella, he established the nonprofit organization Cittadellarte in 1998. Cittadellarte coordinates a variety of activities, including an artist-in-residence program, exhibitions, and other events. By connecting the foundation’s initiatives with societal issues, it forges strong linkages between art and life.
In order to actively involve us in the compositions and to inspire us to reflect on time—both the past, as symbolized by the figures on the mirror surfaces, and the present of our gaze—Pistoletto seeks to directly interact with his audience through his artwork. The dark surfaces of the drawings, paintings, sculptures, and wall on the second floor indicate both black infinity and uncontrollable motion somewhere beyond it, absorbing light, endlessly distant. They act as some type of weightless bodies. The moment has been frozen in time and space has shrunk, giving the impression of being empty. The past captured in Pistoletto’s artworks, the viewer’s present, and our shared future foretold by the symbol of the Third Paradise, the artist’s socially engaged project that promotes social discourse and points in the direction of a potential social transformation, are all included in his exploration of temporality.
Curated by Alenka Gregorič.
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