An emblematic figure in the Italian contemporary art scene and part of the Arte Povera movement, since the 1960s Pier Paolo Calzolari has developed an unusual oeuvre based on the use of certain recurring materials: tobacco leaves, salt, fire, frost, copper and lead. They play a role in a very personal universe distinguished by a hermetic and alchemical poetry, where each material is subject to transformations, but also causes them. Salt and ice conserve, but sometimes they can also burn like fire. And frost, produced by ancient fridge motors, enveloping sheets of metal like a virus, evokes the whiteness of Venetian marble reflecting the midday sun.
The art of Pier Paolo Calzolari is inspired by a Franciscan vision of the world, which seeks to establish an equal relationship between beings (be they human or animal). So much so that effects of horizontality have become hallmarks of his work, reminiscent for some of a theatre stage. In a Calzolari exhibition, each work competes to establish the thread of a drama, dream or mystery (in the medieval sense of the word). This theatrical dimension unfolds in strange performances peopled with albino animals, but also with sculptures. Calzolari has often compared his work to a temple in which the sculptures were “never envisaged as a finished act […], but rather as different parts of an organism that spark a conversation”. This explains why each element of these exhibitions takes the form of a dreamlike ceremony – indeed, it is all about capturing a dream. “When the dreamer dies,” the artist asks himself, “what happens of the dream?”
For his first exhibition at galerie kamel mennour, Pier Paolo Calzolari makes use of both exhibition spaces: a collection of mostly older works are shown in the gallery on the rue Saint-André des arts, while the artist inaugurated the new space in the rue du Pont de Lodi with works that are largely recent.
Born in 1943 in Bologna, Pier Paolo Calzolari lives and works in Fossombrone, Italy. His work has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions, including at: Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna di Ca’Pesaro (IT), Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght (FR), Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume (FR), Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (IT), Galleria Civica di Modena (IT), Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Villa delle Rose (IT), Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain of Nice (FR). Since 1967, he has also participated in major group exhibitions, such as: “Where are we going? Opere scelte dalla Collezione François Pinault,” Palazzo Grassi – François Pinault Foundation (IT), “Notations/Forms of Contingency: New York and Turin 1960/1970s,” Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (USA), “Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera 1962-1972.” His work is currently on view at Fondazione Prada, Venice (IT).