The centuries-old tradition of Italian sculpture, which consists of dynamic forms wholly occupying space, forms that are born from an intense, continuous and impassioned masterful passion in the use of excellent materials that range from marble to lost wax casting, with skills that have transcended the seasons and fashions, such a tradition has found a remarkable experimenter in Mario Pavesi, the artist who renews those techniques and submits them to a personal and wholly contemporary language, which is identiﬁed with our sentiment.
Pavesi’s exploration is undoubtedly original, but it is declined and developed with a language that is proper to the Italian tradition, not just technically speaking, but from a ﬁgurative point of view as well, owing to the gentleness of certain solutions, which soften and make intimate forms that twist in space, human fragments that recall a suffering incompleteness on the brink of a howl. It is a synthesis of twentieth-century sculpture, from the Futurist works of Umberto Boccioni, to the excited shapes of Wildt, to the soft ones of Alberto Viani, among others. The work is Italian for certain forms of confession at the limit of sentimental naïveté, which means letting oneself go, the call for an hour’s silence, without, however, giving up the gestures of rebellion, revolt, an aspired to and yearned for but as yet unaccomplished regeneration. The construction of form is also rational, logical, with its precise internal order, when it appears to be disorderly, and the dynamism is ﬁrst and foremost internal energy held back, fermenting, germinative, which moves according to the secret rules of harmony and elegance: obviously not formal, but substantial, bound to the exaltation of the human body, which is always a value, something positive in all its expressions and manifestations, which translates sentiments, emotions, knowledge and discoveries. Hence, Pavesi is an Italian who is amazed and full of admiration before the beauty of the human body: beauty that obviously is no longer that of the Classical or classicistic canons, but that intimately pervades any vision and image in our tradition, as it cannot adhere to exasperation, to the refusal and the negation of other cultural and artistic traditions. There exists inside us a profound and authentic sense that nothing can be alien to our being human – Terence’s nihil alienum puto -, in which alienum means extraneousness, but also the impossibility of an alternative or otherness, call it what you will. For this reason, closed within our humanity we are both prisoners and exalters in cross-pollinating every existing form with it. For this reason, on another occasion, I wrote that: “Pavesi is a humanist, who obeys an immediate, totalizing essentialness, suspended between subtle symbolism and naturalism, in the sense of reﬂection upon nature, reconstruction of appearances and scattered suggestions that the sculptor gathers”. And it is for this reason that condensed in this artist’s works are a series of human passions, often combined together, from wonder to marvel, which can fade into the theatricality of gestures and narrative oratory, that are born effortlessly without the contradiction of the material and its skilled elaboration, which become story, insight, compassion and participation, on down to the self-identiﬁcation of the watchful eye and soul. Never a static gaze, but rather a dynamic one: one must move around the sculptures, again according to tradition, until the change in our vision encounters or comes up against the movements inside the sculpture, each moment creating and recreating rhythms, which trigger off a secret music, interior to the forms themselves and to the change in the air between us and the works. Pavesi makes his inner exploration external, visible and grave, his feeling from body to the silence of his creation, devoid of a Big Bang. His sculptures are born from innerness, but in showing themselves, in taking shape, with just as much concreteness, they seek an interlocutor to be able to communicate. They are not a solipsistic operation, but the start of the dialogue, which in the work is destined to continue in time, forever, telling us something about the sculptor that modeled it as well, about his world, his toil, because art is at once suffering and toil.
Sculpture also has a body and a skin, which when bronze is used consists in the patina. In Pavesi’s work this patina is evermore accurate and chosen in harmony with the form of the work, which thus takes on a sheen and a Classical gentility that at most attenuates the violence of the contortions of the ﬁgures or their mutilations, their efforts at the limit of humanity, or accentuates the sweetness of the suspensions, such as in these unpublished works, starting from Quiete (Quiet), a work that gathers within itself and has the elegance of Brancusi in the way it twists upon itself. Or else the expression of laborious torsion in Strappo generazionale (Generational Split), and the limpid eroticism in Fuoco sacro (Sacred Fire), a sort of springtime ritual of eternal youth. So calibrated, calculated and programmed is this sculpture that it seems to hold within the time of creation, the silence in which it grew, germinating, of course, effortlessly, but while taking on a body, forms in balance that are also technical skills, aesthetic solutions sought out with patience and experimented with in the raw material and sign. Equally light, impalpable and aerial is the artist’s painting, emergence that is not mediated by the unconscious, reminiscent of Paul Klee. The works belong to an uninterrupted and probably still incomplete series dedicated to “common places”, to everything that is banal, apparently true, because participated in by all, but, in truth, devoid of experience and knowledge, the puffs of clouds in the sky that neither indicate the season nor what the weather holds in store, unrealities that appear to be evanescent, surfacing, iridescent, but also thread-like, ﬁngers that point towards nothing, signs of an alphabet that does not communicate, surfaces scratched by a desire for order, closure, almost as if to withhold and imprison, which in the last works become increasingly obsessive and repetitive in deﬁning two spaces that overlap to shut out glimmers of light, while the background colour, elsewhere so fresh and airy, bodiless in its pastel guise, becomes darker, more disquieting, more obsessive and looming in its ﬂat, motionless stesura, occasionally marked by darkmoods.
It seems as though the prior lightweight and fantastic irony on the banalities and biases that inﬂuence us is becoming less tolerant, less available, more laden with future presences, which like a shaft of light aspire to a less transcoloured and more and better accentuated symbolism.
President of the National Academy of Fine Arts of Parma