MARRYING the post-modern with the contemporary in a cavalier examination of different perspectives, the Italian Cultural Institute and Artuner presented the second half of their series devoted to the post-war Italian sculptor Pietro Consagra.
The Belgravia site hosted work by Pietro Consagra and Marine Hugonnier together to create a dialectic about observation. Both artists are known for their exploration of the theme, thus their work harmonises on an intellectual level as well as having an aesthetic synergy.
Pietro Consagra and Marine Hugonnier at the Italian Cultural Institute. Courtesy of Artuner
Consagra is one of Italy’s most celebrated artists. He is renowned for revolutionising the sculptural methodology. Rather than presenting work on plinths or other bases as sculptures normally were, Consagra sought to produce, a more direct mode of interaction between the viewer and his work. Seeing plinths and bases as a barrier that constrained the observation of work, he essentially flattened his sculptures, forcing a “frontal” perspective. The exhibit presents work by the sculptor made between 1960 and 1980.
Installation view of Pietro Consagra’s sculptures at the Italian Cultural Institute. Courtesy of Artuner
Hugonnier is a French artist who trained as an anthropologist. For 15 years, she has been displaying her work at respected galleries, museums, and other institutions, cementing her name and reputation as a thought-provoking, formidable force in the art world. Working in various media, like film, photography, works on paper, books and performance, the artist employs versatile methods to communicate her interest in the nature of images and the history, culture, and politics associated with them. She has had great success with her multimedia approach to investigating perspective, with work displayed in such esteemed places as the Museum of Modern Art (NY), the Arts Council Britain, the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC), and the UBS Collection (Zurich).
Sculpture by Pietro Consagra, displayed at the Italian Cultural Institute. Courtesy of Artuner
Consagra was interested in architecture and much of his work was devoted to exploring infrastructure and how the “central perspective” that dominates city planning facilitates hierarchies of power. His fantasies of a world bereft of centres and peripheries echoes in his sculptural output. Ranging from paper thin iron sculptures that render the wall they are hung on in infinite space (Inventario) to the translucent Sottilissime series which introduces the space beyond as part of the perceptual frame, the pieces displayed at the Italian Cultural Institute crystallise Cosangra’s credo. Another component is his Ferri Transparent series, highly formal monochrome works where the surrounding space is as important as the work itself.
Installation view of Corriere della Sera by Marine Hugonnier.
Shown at the Italian Cultural Institute. Courtesy of Artuner
Both artists are concerned with public spaces. Hugonnier’s collages that are shown in conjunction with Consagra’s work are a homage to Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly’s book ‘Line, Form, Colour’ provided Hugonnier with material for her collages. This book decrees that art should be made for public spaces and buildings- in other words, art should serve architecture. In this case, Hugonnier is redefining the word architecture to cover the architecture of daily life. Hugonnier uses newspapers as a backdrop for cutouts from Kelly’s book. The vintage editions of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera she used were printed contemporaneous to Consagra’s most active years; Hugonnier created a new collage series specifically for the exhibition with Consagra.
Corriere della Sera by Marine Hugonnier. Courtesy of Artuner
Calling the series Art for Modern Architecture, each collage features a front page of the paper with the main image obscured by cutouts from Kelly’s book. Despite the central images being obscured, the viewer automatically fills in the visual space with images extracted from their memory. Proving the power of the image is contingent upon the context it is displayed in, Hugonier’s confrontational methodology serves the purpose Consagra set out: to diminish the limitations set by Power. Curiously contradictory, Hugonnier’s withholding of information manages to provide alternative data, thus highlighting how information can be manipulated through presentation.
Pietro Consagra and Ugo Mulas at the Italian Cultural Institute. Courtesy of Artuner
Hugonnier favours primary colours and geometric shapes in her work. Modeles are a form of collage-making invented by the Swiss-French artist Le Corbusier. The collages are three dimensional in five colours. It uses modernist methodology to critique modernist. In a witty take on the definition of modernism, Hugonnier reinterprets Consagra’s work which is modernist in its nature. One of the key characteristics of modernism is that it adapts and restyles older works.
Both Consagra and Hugonnier encourage an interaction between the viewer and the artwork. Creating a conversation between the viewer and the artwork, a conversation that challenges the conventions that the viewer is familiar with, is the essence of both artists. It is unsurprising then that their work was shown by Artuner, an innovative art platform that curates selling exhibitions, both online and through an international programme of physical exhibitions. It was founded in 2013 by Eugenio Re Rebaudengo.
by Yasmin Bilbeisi