Title: Evaporazioni Notturne
Curated by: Bruno Corà
Location: Gallerja, Rome [Italy]
Date: 18 November 2013 – 15 February 2014
Inaugurated in Rome on 18 November 2013 in Gallerja, this solo exhibition by Bizhan Bassiri, curated by Bruno Corà, unveils various novel aspects representing the latest iteration of the artist’s work – specifically in the chromatic quality and plastic elaboration of a cycle debuting here, entitled ‘Evaporazioni notturne’ (2013). The cycle is inspired by the epic tradition of painted and sculptural representations of Renaissance battles, as well as those fought before and after.
In Bassiri’s early career, one of the materials he worked with assiduously, papier-mâché, constituted the base of works with a distinctive quality that became a signature of his work. In many cases, this paste of pages torn from newspapers, magazines and other sources, treated first with water and then with glues and coloured pigments, were conceived and worked by the artist as a replacement for lava magma.
Bassiri’s “magmatic thought” has already resulted in an impressive array of “forms” – some in lava stones, others in steel – which now, after more than thirty years of work and numerous national and international exhibitions, constitute distinctive chapters of varying morphologies that can be identified as Evaporazioni (1979), Leggii (1983), Specchi solari (1988), Dadi della sorte (1989), Serpi mercuriali (1996), Erme (1996-2002), Spade (1998), Volti (1998), Paesaggi della mente (1998), Meteoriti (1999-2006), Bestie (2002), and still others. Thus, leading up to the new cycle of Evaporazioni notturne were numerous episodes in which the artist formalized his initial intuition – a genuine epiphany – experienced on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius in the 1970s. In only one other circumstance before these did Bassiri conceive and create an “evaporation”, in the form of his Battaglia dei Centauri (Battle of the Centaurs) in 1993.
However, the conception of these new evaporations includes a thanatological dimension that comes after dramatic events; to wit, Bassiri processed the material into a sort of ashen “shroud” covering volumes, anatomies, objects and weapons – in brief, a new “Anghiari” which, following on Leonardo’s masterful painting, returned to the artist’s imagination with symbolic meaning for our era, with all its dramas and our own contradictions.
Each of the works on display has a chiaroscuro effect resulting from the artist’s use of sulphur, which gives them a frigid light and a particular sculptural coating over the forms beneath. A pall of time and condensed dust seems to have deposited on each work, and the relief of each surface seems to evoke the poses and objects of a motionless theatre of gestures, forever silent.