Pier Paolo Calzolari

Pier Paolo Calzolari (Bologna 1943) uses of unconventional processes and non traditional everyday materials kept him at the forefront of the Arte Povera movement, his tendencies to allude to elements of the classical themes of art history such as the still life or the religiously inspired triptych, set him apart from his fellow poveristi.


Commonly employing materials evocative of the four alchemical elements such as fire, ice, moss, lead and tobacco, Calzolari orchestrates a symphony of the quotidian, of present reality, as it is experienced and unfolds in the space where his work is exhibited, eradicating any mediation or possible representation. His aim is not to describe or codify, but to live life and art as an act of passion: art becomes life and life permeates art. He brings into his work an alchemical dimension, capable of reactivating the artistic space and the creative process in a sensitive and absolutely personal manner. Monochromes of frozen materials, luminous neon writing, and devices for freezing that take advantage of the principles of physics, all create an aesthetic of the living organism. More interested in the formative process of elements than in their forms themselves, the artist seeks to develop "animated" material, in which objects abandon their state of inertia and lose their static condition, to expand into the environment, delineating a new spatial and temporal dimension that tends toward the sublime. Senza titolo (Untitled), 1973, brings together natural materials and luminos objects. A realization aroses from his youthful observation of light reflecting off white marble in Venice, as he explained: «When I was a child I went to live in Venice, an isolated postwar city, where the light was still psychic. An invasive light, it possessed objects and physical realities, making them abstractly tactile. It gave the sensation that objects were made of light, physical but impalpable. Then I remember the lines of the Venetian bridges, the most ancient ones made of wood, which rest on, weigh down upon the streets with their soft and sensual outlines, almost abandoned between water and land. Then there were the examples, from museum to life, from Giorgione to Tancredi, with their ideas about light as painting, but I didn't understand how to successfully translate this condition of extreme chromatic sensitivity, until I saw the benches along the Servi lagoon, illuminated, but impregnated with a rosy light that made them seem weightless, or as if they had a weight, that of the light, resting upon their planes. They had a weight, but they were without physicality» (P. Calzolari, interview with G. Celant, 'Toward the Sublime' in G. Celant, Pier Paolo Calzolari: Interview/Essays, New York, 1988, p. 7).

All of Calzolari's work enchants, presenting a condition of existence through the elements' process of transformation, and through the formation and composition of states of materials. Forms and objects in the process of becoming, their fluctuation from one dimension to another, their incessant modification, are a way of keeping alive the essence of art, a tool through which the artist conveys the images of his view of the world.

Calzolari has exhibited his works in solo and collective shows all over the world, as well as in international museums and institutions, such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of New York, the Fine Art Museum of Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, Castello di Rivoli Museo di Arte Contemporanea in Turin, MAMbo in Bologna, MAXXI in Rome, Palazzo Grassi - Punta della Dogana Fracois Pinault Foundation in Venice, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofìa in Madrid, among others. Piero Paolo Calzolari has participated in Documenta (1972, 1992), the Venice Biennale (1978, 1980 and 1990) and the Rome Quadriennale (1972).