Pier Paolo Calzolari, Untitled (Mattress: “Senz’altri rumori che i miei”), 1971
Flannel mattress, refrigeration unit, blue neon tubes, transformer, refrigerator motor, lead
Marianne Boesky and Pace Gallery, 2012
Photograph by Katy Hamer
This past Friday evening, I attended the opening of Pier Paolo Calzolari , When the dreamer dies, what happens to the dream?.  The exhibition is on view at both Marianne Boesky Gallery and Pace Gallery , respectively located on 24th and 25th streets between 10th and 11th Avenue in Chelsea, NY. The exhibition is a rare occasion where the two galleries have joined forces, actually cutting a door between the parallel venues in order to expand the space and allow for a larger total viewing area. Calzolari is represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery and when the gallery approached their neighbor to inquire about a collaborative exhibition, the gallerist, as reported to New York Times writer Randy Kennedy, “didn’t do so with great affection.”  However, the duality of spaces has allowed for a large amount of Calzolari’s work to be shown, which otherwise would have been impossible. Many of the pieces are quite ambitious, not only in scale but also regarding specific materials that are temperature specific and fragile.
Pier Paolo Calzolari, Donna Colonna, 2001/2012

Performance installation view
Dimensions variable

Marianne Boesky and Pace Gallery, 2012
Photograph by Katy Hamer

Lead in particular, is a dominant, weighted substance used in many of the works. Conductive metals have always been an important ingredient used by the artists of Arte Povera of which, Pier Paolo Calzolari is an important, almost mythological figure.  The movement emerged in Northern Italy from 1962-1972 and the objective of the artists involved was to find way

to bring the natural world indoors and in doing so also attacking various establishments, political, cultural and industrious. The artists often worked with metals that were specific to conducting electricity, leather, wood, fur, stone, salt and numerical sequences, such as the Fibonacci number series, numbers represented in nature and used often by Mario Merz, another celebrated artist from the movement. When the dreamer dies, what happens to the dream? offers a strange, mystical body of work, representing not only a sequence of time, but also the internal workings of the artist and his visual musings. Here, the human body is architecture such as in Donna Colonna, 2001/2012 and architecture is accentuated in Untitled 1988-2012, where a ceiling in one of the gallery rooms is coated in wax and bits of glowing neon.
Pier Paolo Calzolari and guest
In front of Untitled (Tall fish tank), 1978-1980
Marianne Boesky and Pace Gallery, NY, 2012
Photograph by Katy Hamer

In what appears to be a  philosophical contemplation of death, the work in the exhibition has a grave sense of materiality that is completely raw and precious. It is concretely defined and as malleable as water. Frozen and liquid matter appear on both 2-dimensional surfaces and occupy 3-dimensional volume. Where some artists use paint, Pier Paolo Calzolari has chosen to use ice. The ice

is generated by refrigerator motors that are connected to various surfaces and structures. For the duration of time that the motor is turned on, ice is formed and changes and grows creeping up a surface and bringing a particular sense of life to the otherwise stagnant work. Most art will change over time. Natural elements, wear and tear along with decomposition of materials all contribute to the intention and dynamism of a work of art. Paintings and frescos of yesteryear have been repaired numerous times and often will still need a freshening up. The difference with much of the work of Arte Povera artists, is that the art and visual declaration being made was one that changed and evolved upon inception. Calzolari challenges the viewer to contemplate the purest forms of humanity that sprung from the bowels of the earth. He questions heaven and science and reminds us of flesh and fragility.

In Donna Colonna, 2001/2012 and Baignoire (Dialogue entre l’eau e et l’oeuf) an egg dangles on a string, a meditation, both in and out of reach. It is an element that is meant to be replaced, a reminder of organic material that will eventually spoil. Is the usage of the egg to remind us half of where we, as mammals have spawned? Is it the fragility of a skull or a reference to the earth itself? Or was the artist contemplating brunch and a hearty, warm frittata? Amongst the serious, thoughtful dialogue the work also proposes a brief note of humor. In Untitled (Door), 2004, a small, mechanized stuff pig, endlessly grunts and walks into a small area between the large lead door and the wall. Upon first glance the piece is smile inducing and almost comical, but then quickly maintains a stance feeling like a journey of man against machine, or politics versus love. The gesture is delicious and satirical.

Pier Paolo Calzolari  presents a body of work that is a visceral, lyrical discussion that may not even require verbal discourse. However, it is impossible to look at and experience without a deeper, internal discussion, one that will trigger memory, fragility and the delicate balance between humanity, philosophy and nature. When the dreamer dies, what happens to the dream? is one man’s vision, a reminder of life and an attempt to reduce external noise with the intimate reminder that we are all salt of the earth .

Pier Paolo Calzolari, Baignoire (Dialogue entre l’eau e et l’oeuf), 1996 
Marianne Boesky and Pace Gallery, 2012
Photograph by Katy Hamer
Pier Paolo Calzolari, When the dreamer dies, what happens to the dream?, is on view consecutively at Marianne Boesky Gallery and Pace Gallery until June 2nd, 2012.
Pier Paolo Calzolari, Untitled (Door), 2004
Lead, wood, cuddly toy, electric motor
Marianne Boesky and Pace Gallery, 2012
Photograph by Katy Hamer
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