Da: Alessandro Rosa (a cura di), Giovanni Anceschi. Possibilità liquide, catalogo della mostra, 2016.
The currency of art, it has been said, is the redundancy of familiar metaphors. In an unabashedly liquid society (Bauman) we should not be surprised to rediscover and re-examine the Tables of Liquid Possibilities, the Fluid Paths and Hourglass Paintings of Giovanni Anceschi. But the prefix /re-/ which I have used thus far ought to alert us to something. You can “re-prise” a project from the end, or from the beginning, or as in the case of this exhibition, from the middle. In other words from the artistic experience of Anceschi, intensified by his many careers as a designer, a multimodal director, a teacher. Gilles Deleuze used the term “ri-tornello” for this repetition in which meaning is renewed, relying on the dynamism of its development.
This “re-prise” is not an installation that implies the stasis of the “impasse,” but an operation: a composite of works – materials, objects and forces. While other artists are gripped by the circuits of the mind or the mazes of the psyche, Anceschi investigates the mysterious planes of substances and of our experiences. His free activity – a term I prefer to that of “work” – experiments with an “alchemical” bricolage that does not represent “something,” but assembles and breaks down a game of energies and sensations.
As a professor I know that teaching is a question of signs. Professors are artists who teach (Anceschi) or intellectuals that do not write, but distinguish. So I will start to distinguish, in the ingenious operations of Anceschi, a Contraption and a Device that transform mere matter into substances available to meaning.
(i) a Contraption, i.e. a construct of transparent materials and manageable frames; (ii) a Device, fluid, colored, transparent and translucent. A fluidity that is the physical magnitude reciprocal to viscosity, the resistance of the liquid to flowing, to its “rheology.” A dynamic (or cinematic) viscosity in tensile interaction with fluids – a coefficient of exchange of quantity of movement – that according to the variation of consistencies also transforms their chromatic saturation.
An alchemical activity, without elixirs and mysteries, in which art rediscovers its capacity for allusion, illusion and wonder of the Great Work. A Thaumatology, a discipline of wonder, magia naturalis that was the height of knowledge – power of numbers, Cryptology and, indeed, Alchemy. The story of the “thaumaturge” artists is one of long episodes, inaccessible to critical currency, which passes, dazed, from present to present. “It would take a great dialectic apparatus to explore in all its subtleties the material imagination of the alchemist,” Bachelard wrote. I am left with the temptation to interpret the hourglasses and the tables of Anceschi as retorts and alembics, ovens, vessels, mortars for visual filtres, potions, projections (powders of projection), transmutations. Contraptions and devices to confabulate with the soul of the world? Again to quote Bachelard: “There are imaginaries in which the world is conceived as an immense alembic that has the sky as its capital and the earth as its cucurbit. The alembic of the distiller will thus be an alembic of the microworld and the smallest of the distillations will be an operation of the universe. The alchemist lives a cosmic dream.”
And the hourglasses and alembics of the microworld dreamt by Anceschi?
3. The “Elaboratorio.”
The re-prise of the works of Anceschi has another justification.
It is an inter-prise, that requires invention of the inventive potential of the user; to imagine the imagination of the partner of a game. (That which is most characteristic in the human being, for R. Queneau). The works were and are intended for interaction; requests for imaginative performance on the part of a visitor-participant. Not an observer, but a bricoleur with a certain leeway in the rotations of the Contraption (the frames) and of the Device (dilations of flow lines, alterations trigged by viscous deformation, and so on).
Small perceptible scores from which to discover the execution, which from case to case will be an original experience. An “haecceity” (Deleuze), a mobile and communicating event.
The space of the gallery, then, is not an alchemical grotto nor a workplace. It becomes an intermediate space where the artist stages the colored movements of substances (the “plasticien“) and programs the games of visitors – “provider of contracted labor” (the director).
Let’s take the risk of neologism: the gallery becomes an “Elaboratorio.”
Criticism is not hermeneutics: my words too, which describe and introduce the works in the exhibition, would like to take part in the success of the experiment Anceschi re-proposes and re-presents. Not with an interpretation, but with an execution, an iteration in the musical sense of the term, which is not true or false, but can turn out to be correct or incorrect.
Neither would I like to err less. Better to err better.
G. Bachelard, La terra e le forze. Le immagini della volontà, Red edizioni, Milano, 1989.
R. Bauman, Vita liquida, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2006.
G. Deleuze, F. Guattari, Cos’è la filosofia, Einaudi, 1996.
U. Eco, Aspetti della semiosi ermetica, sta in I limiti dell’interpretazione, Bompiani, Milano, 1990.
P. Fabbri, Il significante del mondo, in AA.VV., Semiotica in nuce, vol. 2, a cura di P. Fabbri, G. Marrone, Meltemi, Mimesis, Roma, 2001.