Over the course of his career, Parmiggiani has maintained a radical stance and singular vision, utilising recurring motifs such as dust, emptiness, fire, glass, bells and shadows to interrogate the dual nature of time.
His overarching investigation is his search for an image, object or assemblage that transcends time and individual experience to evoke a universally existential and perceptual truth. It is a search that is at the heart of his practice, an excavation of history and mythology that is rendered still, silent and impervious to time.
The works in the exhibition reflect Parmiggiani’s ongoing commitment to investigating the human condition and the footprints we leave behind, the communication between the intimate and the exterior, and themes such as memory, absence, fragmentation, silence and uncertainty. His new works exhibited over two floors at the London gallery exemplify this vision and invite us to reflect on the vitality of creativity, our quest for knowledge and legacy, in the context of an increasingly violent and unstable world.
At the centre of the exhibition will be a series of ‘black mirror’ wall based works-smashed black glass that resemble telescopic windows onto the cosmos. Jewel-like, cracked, shimmering surfaces reveal hypnotic voidsand galaxies, embodying the act of violence in their own creation. Evoking a tension between the man-made and the natural world, between matter and thought, these shimmering worlds promise a fractured eternity.
The second floor gallery plays host to a monumental ‘Delocazione’ work, depicting a ghostly library, immortalised in soot. Here the figurative silhouettes of books stand to attention like soldiers or a choir about to project a collective song, their simultaneous presence and absence reflecting the cycles of life and inevitability. Parmiggiani’s works in the exhibition situate us in the echoes of history whilst urging us to forge new connections, dreams, possibilities.
For over 40 years Claudio Parmiggiani has made fire and earth sing alongside air and smoke, wood and stone. His works are shadow sculptures, as Georges Didi-Huberman called them: figurations in which bodies and objects, the whole universe of life, is evoked in absentia. It is an art of subtraction, of ascetical rarefication, engaged in explicit dispute with the deafening worldliness of today’s narcissistic “art world”. The disappearance staged by Parmiggiani always has something traumatic about it, often alluding to the piercing loss of people and things that have “emigrated” – swept away by the waves, burned by the fire of history. It is an exquisitely, sometimes brutally, material form of art, but one which still retains a longing for a transcendent dimension, for something beyond this world, for the “spirituality of art”. It is, then, definitely a religious art, yet one that cannot be reduced to orthodoxies of any kind: a faith in nothing, but a total faith, is precisely how the artist describes himself.1