Paolo Icaro

Paolo Icaro. A spatial poetics between poor and conceptual art.

Paolo Icaro is the name that a great Italian sculptor, Umberto Mastroianni, gave to Pietro Paolo Chissotti artist who frequented his studio.

Born in Turin in 1936, Paolo Icaro began his career as an artist immediately after leaving university, having understood what his propensity was, evidently the search for his path, what he felt inside as a scholar of reality and what pushed him inwardly to represent it.

Who makes art is a man who has inside a disruptive imagination that puts him in a position to communicate a thought, a reason for comparison with himself and the universe that surrounds him put into practice with a creative act.

Between 1968 and 1969 he took part in the main international avant-garde art exhibitions, which sanctioned the affirmation of trends such as arte povera, conceptual art and process art.

He held solo exhibitions in important European and American galleries, among which they are remembered: Verna, Zurich (1972, 1974, 1978, 1985); Françoise Lambert, Milan (1976); Marilena Bonomo, Bari (1976); Massimo Minini, Brescia (1977, 1982, 1989); Paul Maenz, Cologne (1978), Hal Bromm, New York (1978, 1979); Jack Tilton, New York (1985, 1986, 1989).

The artist is a philosopher of concreteness, in the sense that he objectively constructs a language, formulates an idiom, develops a concept that shapes in an aesthetic condition. During the 1990s he was invited to participate in numerous group exhibitions. We would like to point out: Italian art of the last forty years. Materiali anomali, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna (1997); Au rendez-vous des amis. Identità e opera, curated by Bruno Corà, Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato (1998); Immagini. Italian art from 1942 to the present day, curated by Fabrizio D’Amico, European Central Bank, Frankfurt (2000).

Paolo Icaro is an artist who makes his verb heard in the chaotic contemporary world through a paradigmatic production in the second part of the 20th century. An artist who reminds us how the cultural segments of what belongs to the spectrum of reality are present in everyone’s consciousness, and everyone can well see how the concept or expression of it can be universal to make us feel human. An artist recognizes history, but first recognizes the form that distinguishes it. The form that distinguishes it is then the strength that those who are not artists appreciate because they trace the emotion that they need, that they have consciousness of.

Paolo Icaro excites for his research, one of his works is unique but always linked to an evolving language, to a position not only linked to evidence but to a conceptual structure that implies knowledge, elaboration, creative voluptuousness of the personal intuition of each one who seeks a dialogue.

Why does Paolo Icaro provide us with paths that find a perspective to dialogue? And why perhaps should we consider art a form of contact when it can only be an existential point of arrival?

These are questions that arise in the face of the intellectual mimesis that arises when we face the contemporary aesthetic sense of a work of art. The work of art has its own identity, the one that the author has recognized with his creative act, an act that brings emotion, whether positive or negative.

Cuborto, 1969, steel, rope_steel, rope, cm. 91,5×91,5×91,5

Paolo Icaro gives a key to history, to its history, and therefore yes, he gives us a cue to dialogue on it because it includes vital acts, it includes why his hands provide synthesis and therefore aesthetic value, cognitive value, social value, human value.

The second question is answered by the cultural idiom of those who approach the work, because it is in their own personality that a sign can open a communication in several directions or close it all in introspection.

Paolo Icaro has his own intellectual structure that in its forms guides us in the answers to the previous questions.

Icaro has what we evidently recognize as “poetics”, that is the inner strength to make a language that arouses sensations, tones emotions.

The artist is confronted with what sculpture is, a spatial material that is touched and seen and through which the space itself is reconstructed and internalized.

The same artist affirms that: ” It is a moment of cleaning, of revision of the grammatical fundamentals of making sculpture that have led me both to be interested in the verb put and the verb remove. I tend to delegate the material to form, I do nothing but stop the format, I become a spectator because I only induce the material to give a show”. Icarus gives us the cue to revise what is the relationship between man and the forms that he expresses, it is an anthropological journey where we find the primordial seeds of sculpture, the links with the essential and therefore with the strand of poor art.

At a certain point, arte povera affects the history of art’s thought, because it shows itself but first it is thought and then it becomes history.

Arte povera and minimal art have been, and still are, one of the most vivid colours that has given us the prism that goes to facet the light of contemporary art.

Icarus presents us with his ferment in the search for space through materials and consistency, substance, that there is in things.

The real datum is deconstructed to be re-proposed on a psychological level, the artist has an individual and intimate poetic plan with what surrounds him, it is his inclination to interest him to find new experimental ways.

Arte Povera is basically a denunciation to the modern world in the broadest sense because it is considered as an industrial, economic, consumerist race that debases the most genuine and fundamental elements of humanity.

Balance, 2008, aluminium wire and Carrara marble,200x202x44 cm

If we observe an object or an individual we immediately see what characterizes them, the external form in the first case and the personality in the second, both definitive elements.

Analyzing the constructive, motivational process of what is finished is the essence, is the principle of the poetics that Arte Povera proposes.

An art therefore that expresses itself with poor materials such as iron, wood, earth, industrial waste.

Important is a new way of appropriating the spaces where the artist expresses himself so much that he uses the performance or the construction of the sculpture through the installation.

Paolo Celant, who “invented” Arte Povera as a purely Italian revolutionary movement, claimed: “an expression so broad as to mean nothing. It does not define a pictorial language, but an attitude. The possibility of using everything you have in the animal world. There is no iconographic definition of Arte Povera”.

This art subverts all the canons that had existed up to that moment, it is in contrast with the abstractionism that was considered too tied to individual expression and emotions, overturning everything in the consideration of the physicality and materiality of everyday life.

-Antology.-Exhibition-GAM Turin- 2019

Paolo Icaro makes us understand in his works an experience that relates to what can be a becoming through looking at a matter that changes in space, space is an envelope that reinvents perception.

Space is that of the mind, of the neuronal circuits that release energy to impress an action towards the fabrics of the material of the object, consequently creating the sculpture that makes another space, the real one.

Understanding Paolo Icaro means making a direct leap into the consciousness of contemporary art, it means appropriating a new aesthetic, to find the beauty that defines the concept of art.

Arte povera becomes digestible, assimilable, propulsive with respect to what is sensitive, to what pushes to a pleasant or unpleasant relationship with respect to a work. The concept of artistic and poetic meditation changes, one has to think about how a work is not conceived as universal and finished, but as a reference, as an action that moves time and action, that there is a disintegration for a new beginning.

There is a transcendent ideal in Icarus’ work because the objectivity of forms, the consistency of them, is directly proportional to the becoming and what makes them tangible is the vital force of the whole, of the whole.

Paolo Icaro’s art is therefore the one that sees the viewer not as a passive user but as a participant in the work and is part of a full intellectual context of arte povera that then becomes an international focus, it is a moment in the history of Italian art that takes on a world view.

Icaro’s “Le gabbie” (1967) gives us the concept of the transformation of sculpture from object to construction process, to event to real experience. In his cages the user moves, observes a different space, matures a new awareness, he himself is part of an artistic concept. The art that is experienced is a mutation of space/time in which the motivation is the energy that is expressed in that moment and ends there as a metaphor of memory, is unrepeatable but tangible in rational evolution, permanent only in consciousness.

Pliniominio cage, 1967, painted steel, cm. 205x415x280

Paolo Icaro fits into the context of those artists who, through arte povera, denounce the commodificatory system of art constituted by galleries and awards that do not allow free artistic expression, who see pure energy in materials and who prefer the procedural aspect of the work and the identification of art and life.

The artist uses materials ranging from terracotta to plaster, from metal to wood and paper and they are not dead because they preserve the human matrix of the author who shaped them. The sculptures live a constant tension between lightness and gravity giving space to new propensities and balances.

Icaro’s experience will then move on to other paths that see his own inclinations, his individual relationship with history.

Icarus tends to bring man, who wants to appropriate the aesthetic concepts that art expresses, to participate in first person to make his imagination and memory give answers, possible explanations.

Matter is a semantic distinction through which the intuition of a message is specified, in Icarus is the input to see what determines human action. In the work that he develops specifically for Treccani arte, “Percorso neuronale” in the context of the Treccani Alphabet collection, the space is that in which the thought moves that is a weave, a quagmire of energy that flows into the material of the paper where it manifests itself in the scar of a burn. The mind is the principle of everything, the simple aesthetics that shows it through Icarus brings us together in a moment of cosmic suggestion where interpretation leads us to see the potential of man himself. The cerebral force is a neuronal motion that releases vital heat, the matter has an inner push, the abilities are all to be expressed. A spatial and scientific work that in its interpretation takes us to fantastic but earthly planes. A contemporary work that reminds us who we are and what we can be through a piece of us potentially still to be fully exploited, almost can be put in relation to the history of humanity that Luc Besson tells us in the 2014 film “Lucy”.

Neuronal path, “Alphabet Treccani”, 2019

The neurons in their electric movement turn on and off, they are a chaotic continuity, they burn in an entropy of life and mutation.

Paolo Icaro is an Italian artist first, international then contemporary, now immortalized by history and by the museums that exhibit him permanently. An icon who did not set out to become one!

Present in the following museums :

Musma - Matera
Museum of the twentieth century -Milan
Gam - Turin
Centre of contemporary art sculpture - Gagli
Paneghini Collection - Bust Arsizio
and again in museums in Washington, Gent, Antwerp, Frankfurt.

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