Antonio Salinari Le porte della conoscenza

From fragments of the past, a new relationship between artwork and art user

The story of Antonio Salinari’s multi-essence sculptures started in 2016, when the artist met Romolo and his beautifully inlaid doors, tables, cupboards and drawers. Romolo – an 85 year old woodcarver and restorer – was a man of few words, but when he talked about his work he became very intriguing: “… nobody can teach you the craft of the artisan – he said – you have to look around and steal it, because they will never teach you everything 100%, understand?…” For the artist, Romolo’s work is an expression of fine craftsmanship; resulting into objects and items that reflect the taste of their age, such works can be very useful in popularizing the quality of art and beauty. But such items are also representations of the hands, hearts and minds of those who devote themeselves to crafts with enthusiasm. In short, Romolo’s art is a “usable” kind of art that is deeply rooted in the period when it was created. Throughout his long career, Romolo has been filling two garage rooms in his flat complex with thousands of pieces of the precious local and exotic woods he had been using for the restoration of some important historical buildings in Turin.

 

The “Tentativi di volo” project symbolizes Italy’s need for continuity with traditional fine craftsmanship

 

After the ultimatum of his flat administrator, “you either vacate the garages from these pieces of wood or you must leave”, Romolo sadly showed Antonio Salinari his dusty and cobwebby shrinkages and planks and told him: “you can take everything and burn it as firewood, but you must hurry up.” The sculptor did not need to be asked twice; he picked up all the wood and took it to his house on the mountains, initially thinking to burn it in the fireplace. However, as time went by, an idea came to his mind that those fragments could have concealed some secrets about Romolo’s knowledge and skills. So he decided not to burn them. A few months later, he hit upon the excellent idea of using them to create an innovative sculpture: he combined those fragments of the past using both ancient manual techniques and digital technology of which the latter played a major role in his background. Re-using Romolo’s wood, besides representing a way to safeguard environment, to reconnect with tradition and to inspire aesthetic innovation, has also encouraged Antonio Salinari to create a project called “Tentativi di volo”: artworks which symbolize both the new artisan workshop of the third-millennium and the return to a useful art. Each installation results from the supportive union between a sculpture and the context in which it is displayed, in order to recontextualize the artwork in places such as houses, studios or company offices, which art user can fill with books and objects that represent their own values.

Edoardo Simonetti

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