Giovanni Albanese: Art as a supreme form of synthesis.
Having arrived from Puglia in the Italian capital in 1981, Giovanni Albanese, takes his first steps in Rome in the 80s. These were the peak years of the San Lorenzo district,headquarters of many prominent artists of the time, the years of the Pastificio Cerere, ofthe transavantgarde and the active militancy of the art critic Achille Bonito Oliva, a central figure in the art scene who pulled the strings of the avant-garde machine in Rome.
During this decade Albanese explored a pictorial dimension, aligning himself with those positions that predicated the overcoming of conceptual art, in favour of an art “of activepenetration, diurnal and fluidifying”, which artists such as Cucchi, Chia, Paladino, De Maria, Clemente already practised under the theoretical wing of Bonito Oliva. It was clear during those years that the art world was attempting a reconfiguration of key features and its physiognomy. And talking about the actual physiognomy, we can say that it wasn’t already a defined and unitary concept but rather fragmented and with segmented contents: it is no coincidence it was also at times defined as “quotationism”and characterized by stylistic eclecticism. A rediscovered orientation towards the warm material pole of artistic production serves as the substrate for the work of the artist. Giovanni Albanese fully responds to the widespread need in the Italian art of the end of the century, finding the feedback for his artistic output in reality. Although he soon diverges from the pictorial medium and finds himself involved into the scene with its own individual variation on the theme, as one of the possible solutions in the range of opportunities that were emerging in the artistic research of the various artists of the time, a fragment among fragments.
And still today he feels as such, as a piece of an immense mosaic that continues to be enriched with new shades. It’s in the 90s when in Fortezzada Basso, Florence, he conceived and displayed his first Calculators, some Summa Olivetti towhich he gave new life and that marked the birth of an artistic style on which he had been already working for some time. A style that takes shape, or rather borrows its shape, reincarnating in the form of an ex-industrial product, like some scrap metal which buzzing loudly enters the scene.
These are objects subjected to a process of transversal and inverse functionalization, revised with the idea to remove ideology from the work of art – an example of this is “L’Annunciazione” (The Annunciation), from which resounds “what hasbeen and will not return”, that is the International, the communist hymn – which gives birth to a provocative style that wants to reflect upon the subversion of the consumerist rules of modern society. A style that lives in a close dialogue with the viewer, who finds himself engaged in the metaphysics of the gaze, a way of looking at art that sheds light on the possibility of the work to transcend its productive dimension and its origins. A work that is rethought as an artifact, as a cultural fetish.
All this, however, is a consequence of Giovanni Albanese’s the need to overcome the barriers of non- communication and non-dialogue,in a relationship of equal exchange and mutual enhancement between subjects, as they need not only to express themselves but also to be understood. Personal redemption and the breaking of the silence is a theme that is deeply intertwined with the artist’s personal story, but also with of all of us, in a time when sharing is an important part of our of virtual presence. Precisely for this reason it is a style that produces communication, that is designed for listening but especially it is about emotion: the simple and unexpected joy and happiness of a small bright gift of light. The objects that the artist uses are considered waste but they are elevated in a process that takes them away from their destiny that would see them as arrived at the conclusion of their life and their use, as indistinct objects among other objects. It is then the artist starts a process of extraction of their hidden potentials, bringing out the unseen, making poetry from prose and the exceptional from the ordinary, the spiritual from the material – example of this metaphor is the Little God of hunger, made from a scale and kitchen cutlery. In short, rather than Duchamp’s objects trouvès in Albanese’s case we could speak of Objects selects, as Bonito Oliva points out, chosen by the eye of the artist’s imagination and brought to a new vocation. Entering Giovanni Albanese’s studio is a bit like entering a universe, a sacred magic energy flows between him and his creations, the artist is the demiurge of this fantastic dimension: seeing him operate his Robot Mother,or turn on his Constellations is like attending a show where each piece has its own performance. With the same playful lightness of the showsof the Cirque de Calder, with which he shares the poetic vision, with a delicate but significant and intense irony.
A parallel universe of large hot sun – Stargates – and vast Constellations. The reddish glimmers of tungsten bulbs that permeate the environment and embrace the spectators seem to be the pulsating soul, the mystical halo of these living creatures, capable of loving and making themselves loved. These anthropomorphic objects create in the most extreme simplicity and estranging beauty a supreme form of synthesis: the high art concept of Giovanni Albanese.