“Paolo Parisi. The Weather was Mild on the Day of my Departure”
“Painting is surface and stratification. The practice of painting, on the other hand, comes about as a reflection on the language of painting itself, and on how we see things”.
Paolo Parisi in conversation with Lorenzo Bruni, December 2020
From January 19th, 2021 BUILDING will be hosting the exhibition Paolo Parisi. The Weather was Mild on the Day of my Departure, curated by Lorenzo Bruni, specially conceived for the exhibition space on the ground floor and first floor.
The show The Weather was Mild on the Day of my Departure is made up of four new cycles of works that reflect on the practice of painting and represent the last three, intense years of the artist’s career. The works of 2018-2020 are joined by four sculptures and a video of 2013 that engage in the same general exploration of the artwork as object and its relationship with the container in which it is presented. Common to all the works is a focus on the legacy of Modernism and monochrome painting, but also and above all on the notion of travel – physical and mental – which is framed as the process of discovering the world and sharing it with others different to oneself.
The exhibition offers a single narrative that unfolds through BUILDING, eliciting the visitor’s involvement by means of different works, cycles and techniques. It sets out to analyze the importance of the direct experience of vision, which, as the works suggest, is only complete when a balance is reached between concepts such as: observing and perceiving, experiencing and interpreting, figuration and abstraction, male and female, remembering and forgetting. This is an operation that coincides with the idea of identifying a third way, an alternative to the Western dualism of the past century.
The new cycles of works range from the monochrome paintings The Whole World in a Detail (Fabric) (2020) – iridescent surfaces created using a specific color application technique that recall the lavish appearance of fabrics represented in Renaissance paintings – to the site specific works entitled Alle ragazze d’Italia! (2021), landscape images from the artist’s personal archive printed on transparent fabric which is embroidered with modernist geometric motifs from a sewing manual. The other two cycles are The Whole World in a Detail (2018-2019) – paintings based on a repetition of the square shape of the photographic pixel which is however cancelled out by the layers of color – and the eponymous piece The Weather was Mild on the Day of my Departure (2018), diptychs that bring together a monochrome painting and a photographic image of the landscape of the Strait of Messina, which lies between Sicily and the rest of Italy.
As well as their exploration of the language of painting, what unites the works on show in BUILDING is the desire to analyze the codes that humans use to measure, imagine and perceive the act of traveling through different places, as well as remembering and projecting them. This underpins both the installation of the fabric panels Alle ragazze d’Italia! and the diptychs The Weather was Mild on the Day of my Departure, as well as the works of 2013: the sculptures in the series U.s.a.i.s.o. (Uno sull’altro in senso orario) (2013) which represent the element “house” or “studio” as accumulations of layers of cardboard and plaster moulds of the latter – and the video work Untitled (postcards film) (2013) whose narrative changes continuously thanks to a computerized system that randomly stratifies the sequence of images, a process also highlighted by the electronic music composed for the work. These two series, though not the artist’s most recent work, have been included in the exhibition to highlight the coherent line that Parisi has been pursuing for some time, seeking out new solutions that open up fields of reflection, both far and near.
Lorenzo Bruni, curator of the exhibition, writes, “The theme that constantly recurs in Parisi’s works, which reimagine and shape our perception of the two floors of BUILDING, is color and its reaction to the stratification of time of vision. In his case, color is experienced both viscerally and mentally. This experience encourages the viewer to reflect on the idea of direct experience in an era dominated by digital globalization and the pandemic, which has physically confined people to their own private living spaces, while nonetheless hyper-connected to everything and everyone. In the title of the exhibition, which is a quote from Joshua Slocum, the first person to sail around the world single-handedly – in 1895 – the artist addresses the contradiction that characterizes contemporary period, when posting about our existence online appears to have become more important than actually living our lives. The quote refers to Slocum’s departure from the coast of Boston without an engine, a radio, GPS, or electronic maps… and not even able to swim, all of which is indicative of a willingness to live entirely in the present moment: not looking to the past, but rather the discovery of a possible future”.
Paolo Parisi (Catania, 1965) lives and works in Florence.
The experience of art as a cognitive practice and the variation of perception – linked to changing one’s point of view – are fundamental aspects of his work. Glass in a given shade can change the color of daylight; sound recorded by probes placed beneath a volcano’s crust can make the movement of matter audible; sculpture made of layers of corrugated cardboard sheets can take place inside of a structure, as if a natural cavity. Paolo Parisi’s work explores painting and the relationships it can establish with its surroundings, creating a physical experience for the viewer that involves establishing new relationships between content and container. Since the beginning of his career the artist has focused on creating artistic images out of non-arbitrary assumptions that intentionally exclude any psychological interference by using cartography, architectural survey and the camera lens.
Since 1993 he has combined his artistic career with teaching, at the Accademia di Belle Arti (in Bologna and, since 2010, in Florence), holding numerous conferences, workshops and lectures all over the world. His interest in conveying the shared experience of art is also what led to him becoming one of the founders of the non-profit artist-run space Base / Progetti per l’arte in Florence, which, since it was set up in 1998, has explored the role of contemporary art in today’s society, and how self-determination can exist beyond the constraints imposed by the art market and the prevailing econimic system.
Since the 1990s he has exhibited in numerous Italian and foreign galleries and museums. Prominent solo exhibitions have been held at: Museo Novecento, Florence (2019); Fondazione Brodbeck, Catania (2011); Museo d’arte contemporanea della Sicilia Palazzo Riso, Palermo, (2011); Centro Pecci, Prato (2008); Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich (2006); Quarter, Florence (2005); GCAC Castel San Pietro Terme (2002); Aller Art Verein, Bludenz (2001). He has participated in group exhibitions at, amongst others: Museo Geologico Gemmellaro, Palermo – official collateral event of Manifesta 12 – (2018); M.A.C.RO, Rome (2017, 2009, 2007); Fuori Uso, Pescara (2016); Museo d’Arte contemporanea MSU, Zagreb (2015); CNEAI, Chatou, Paris (2013); Klaipêda Culture Communication Center, Klaipêda (2013); Magazzino d’arte moderna, Rome (2010); XIV Biennale Internazionale di Scultura, Carrara (2010); Villa Romana, Florence (2008); Primo Marella Gallery, Beijing (2007); Manifesta 7 – official collateral event of Manifesta 7 – advertising spaces of Bolzano and Rovereto (2007); Museum of Fine Arts, Hanoi (2007); White House, Singapore (2007); Korean Design Center di Seoul (2007); Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Tokyo (2007).