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Fausto Melotti

Galerie Karsten Greve Paris

il mondo di Fausto Melotti
February 15 - April 26, 2014


Fausto Melotti can be counted among those spirits in the history of art and thought who do not allow themselves to be defined by a specific category such as “sculptor” or “poet”. An engineer by training and artist by vocation, Melotti’s oeuvre spans an historic period where, in the Italy of industrial innovations and memories of recent wars, abstraction would only be recognized a few decades after its earliest onset. His sculpture, which emerges from the void rather than subtracting from the whole, is the manifestation of a refinement that avoids any cerebral gravity and is intended to be explicitly spiritual.

The twentieth century was a year old when Fausto Melotti was born near Trento in northern Italy. After spending several years in Florence Melotti moved to Milan, where he obtained his diploma in electrical engineering in 1924. Four years later he enrolled in the Brera Academy, which is considered to this day to be the most prestigious institution for artistic training in the region. During these formative years of his training, which were a prelude to unprecedented creative development, Fausto Melotti made the acquaintance of two personalities who would have a tremendous impact on his life: the sculptor Adolfo Wildt, whose atelier he frequented in Brera, and Lucio Fontana, his classmate who would remain his close friend for many years. It was in Wildt’s classes that Melotti was initiated into the search for pure form, strict control in the production of the work and the discarding of any mistakes.

Melotti’s first solo exhibition took place in 1935. At this time the artist was 34 years old and his works aroused no interest – neither that of the public nor that of the market. His sculptures were considered to be too angular, perhaps too modern, and without pathos. In his review of the exhibition, the futurist Carlo Carrà said of Melotti’s work: “it is intelligent but it is not sculpture”. Following this failure Melotti put aside artistic production and devoted himself to teaching. It was in the 60s, when the fashion for abstraction was stronger and more established, that the artist applied himself again to creating sculpture and painting.

Fausto Melotti was dedicated to finding a geometry that puts aside any figurative representation, aiming rather to express a pure love of the material, whether bronze or ceramic. The artist always sought perfect balance: he projected himself into the Platonic universe, giving life to a hyperuranio in bronze, copper or metal. Melotti was also a professional pianist and seems to apply musical standards to his sculptures. His compositions evoke a harmony made of variations, intervals and liaisons. It is no coincidence that the titles of his works are inspired by musical terms. The works Piccola sequenza, Contrappunto X and more explicitly Scala Musicale (Musical Scale) are indeed visual representations of a rhythmic sound shaped by the artist. This element of intangibility plays a key role in the works of Melotti as they are light works, fragile in appearance but with solid metaphysical roots.

The first Teatrini (small theatres) date back 40 years. These miniature stages belong to a tradition that had hitherto been classified as applied or minor art. In these stage settings and evocations of interior architecture space is both relative and infinite, and is inhabited by ephemeral presences. They are poetic narratives incorporating such diverse materials as copper, scraps of fabric or chains. They are all memories of the soul that we must examine closely. Melotti creates a world where there is no preferred material for art and which can only be defined as allegory. There is nothing frightening about these small anthropomorphic characters; Melotti’s mute faces are not intended to raise the depths of the unconscious and are simply figures evoking a moment that never happened.

Together with geometric sculptures and Teatrini the exhibition features works on paper that are often studies for sculptures. Almost all untitled, these works project the observer into a world where reality is just a superfluous memory. The drawings and paintings on paper, of different hues but always lissom, do not fail to reveal the foundation of the support itself, which is a void that is not perceived as such but rather as a space the artist invites us to fill with time and ideas.

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