“My works are iridescent, variable, phantasmagorical and changeable”
THE ARTIST STRESSES THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ROLE
PLAYED BY THE OBSERVER’S CREATIVE EYE
Alberto Biasi (Padua, June 2, 1937) has been the soul and engine of the historic Gruppo Enne art movement from 1959 to 1967. Then, he pursued an individual artistic career that led him to exhibit in over one hundred solo shows and many survey exhibitions. This year, Venice dedicates two exhibitions to him, one at Scuola Grande della Misericordia and the other at Palazzo Ferro Fini.
As Italo Mussa would have said, your research is not the “art of movement” but the “art of change”. You have always insisted on the difference between optical-dynamic and kinetic art. Compared to the ’60s, in what way do you think the public have changed their approach to your works?
Since the early ’60s, I have been explaining that the kineticism of my works derives from the optical-imaginative reactions of the observer, and that the movement they perceive is only virtual. In those years, however, only a few people understood this, whereas the others dismissed me as an artist of the “machines”. I suppose that there was an artistic culture that was affecting the majority of people, directing them towards an exclusively contemplative approach to art, that is, a passive attitude. Conversely, children and unsophisticated observers were able to interact with my works and could let themselves be visually engaged in the appearance and disappearance of shapes. Today, fifty years since, only a few people cannot see and continue labelling these works “kinetic”, so I keep on saying that this definition is more reductive than “dynamic”, because my works are not powered by engines, and the birth, life, and death of those images – which “move, but can also stand still” – only depend on the observer.
You have participated in the Venice Biennale in 1964 for the first time, and then again in 1986 and 2011. Over the years you took part in a number of collateral events related to the Biennale, and this year you are exhibiting your works in the City of the Doges again, with two different exhibitions.
I exhibited in Venice many times and did not really like the idea of showcasing my works again, but the enthusiasm of young gallerist Allegra Ravizza on the one hand, and the recent collaboration between the Peruzzo Foundation and the Alberto Biasi Archive on the other, have convinced me that the multi-faceted variety of my artistic research allows me to manage two different exhibitions. One is called “The Vision of Matter”, the other “Between Reality and Imagination”.
“I HAVE ALWAYS EXPERIMENTED WITH DIFFERENT MATERIALS,
SUCH AS METHACRYLATE AND PVC, OR METALS AND
BLACK AND WHITE LIGHTS. NOW I WORK WITH ALCANTARA”
For one of these exhibitions you have created some works made of Alcantara, reaffirming your desire to experiment with new materials and industrial processes.
Since the onset of my career I have always aspired to “move beyond painting and sculpture” in pursuit of new forms and visual idioms. With this in mind, I have experimented with many different materials, from plastics, PVC and (above all) methacrylate, to metal and white and black light. Lately, I have become fascinated by the colours, the resistance and the softness of Alcantara, so I decided to use this material to create some challengingly large works.
You recently called yourself a “kaleidoscopic artist”. Is there anything you want to add?
I do not remember on which occasion I did say that, but I was certainly speaking about the memory of a work – a kaleidoscopic work, actually – that I exhibited at Galleria Trastevere in Rome in 1960, and which Piero Manzoni called “Ocular on the infinite”. After all, there is no doubt that my works shimmer, vary and change in a phantasmagorical way each time the “creative eye” of the observer intervenes. It is equally unquestionable that all this mutability is nothing but a “Self-portarit of the author”.
“WHEN I WAS YOUNG I LIKED THE IDEA OF BECOMING A DANCER,
NOW I ONLY DANCE WITH WOMEN, WHICH IS QUITE DELIGHTFUL”
You like to say that you lived two lives, one as a member of Gruppo N, and the other as an individual artist. But what other life would you have chosen outside the world of art?
When I was young, that is before turning twenty, I liked the idea of becoming a dancer; now, I only dance with women, which is quite delightful. Although, unfortunately, one of my knees is betraying me now.
LA VISIONE DELLA MATERIA 1959 – 2019
SCUOLA GRANDE DELLA MISERICORDIA
07/05 – 01/06
TRA REALTÀ E IMMAGINAZIONE
PALAZZO FERRO FINI
07/05 – 18/07