For Arman, ceramic is a change. The well-known French artist, who lives between Vence and New York, has never treated this material before. But Arman is a man who knows how to take advantage of the opportunities that chance offers him. He chose his stage name by exploiting a typo that appeared in the catalog of one of his 1985 exhibitions. For years, he has collected simple everyday objects by lining them up on his canvases, accumulating them inside display cases or arranging them piled on pedestals to make scultures. Likewise, today he has decided to accept the invitation of the curators of the 4th Biennal of Antique Ceramics in Faenza (open until October 23rd at Palazzo delle Esposizioni) who have asked exactly to him to create works with the ancient and precious technique of ceramic. Arman was chosen because he has always been tied to the poor images of the present (suitcases, coffee pots, forks, etc.). He is put in comparison to the ancient ceramics presented by antique dealers in the stands of the exhibition-market section, along with those of the four historical exhibitions set up for the occasion in Faenza. And in front of twelve flasks from the 16th century that come from the Jesuit pharmacy in Novellara, Arman stops fascinated as he entertains us by telling us about his recent and past work. There are twelve almost identical flasks and he exclaims amused «they look just like one of my accumulations». As we enter the room of his exhibition, there are piles of car engines, coffee grinders, sewing machines, dissected coffee pots lined up while other ones completely fill a large Fiat Topolino life-size: all perfectly and admirably reproduced in ceramic by local craftsmen; all shiny, precious and glittering. But where has the «dirt» gone, the hard patina of time on the objects and piles of junk (poubelles) that Arman once displayed? «Thirty years ago, I had no money to buy rich materials, so I used human activity waste», he says, teasing us (he actually has done many works smashing and/or incinerating very expensive violins, cellos and grand pianos). He adds «What interested me, and what interests me today as it did back then, is the everyday object. Because it is a man extension. Like termites transforming wood, man transforms objects and they become a proof of human activity».
CARLO ALBERTO BUCCI