MILAN.- Palazzo Reale
hosts an important anthological from 27 June to 9 September, on the twentieth anniversary of the death of Alik Cavaliere (Rome 1926 - Milan 1998), an artist among the most important ones of Italian sculpture in the second half of the Twentieth Century. With its free of charge admission, the exhibition breaks down the career of the artist focusing on the theme of nature.
Promoted and produced by the Council of Milan - Culture Department and Palazzo Reale, in collaboration with the Alik Cavaliere Archive, the exhibition is curated by Elena Pontiggia. Its centre is located in the prestigious Sala delle Cariatidi (Room of the Caryatids) at Palazzo Reale, then spreading out to another five locations in a wide and well-structured layout that involves the city of Milan: the Museum of Novecento, Palazzo Litta, Gallerie d'Italia, Bocconi University and the Alik Cavaliere Artistic Centre.
The works on display at Palazzo Reale highlight the artist's different phases and themes, from the monumental Metamorfosi/Metamorphosis of the late 1950s to the innovative character Gustavo B. of the early 1960s, who is the protagonist of a collection of stories on the several experiences of man at that time. Next to it, Bimecus, a "do it yourself" suitcase with modular pieces of bronze and wood inside that at one time the visitor too could assemble in order to feel in tune with the author.
Masterpieces of extraordinary suggestion emerge here, such as Quae moveant animum res. Omaggio a Magritte/Which things move the soul. Homage to Magritte, 1963, and the well-known Monumento alla mela/Monument to the apple, again 1963. In these two works in particular, the artist reinterprets Magritte's theme of the apple to which he associates the thoughts of Lucretius, according to whom the human mind also generates surreal images and nature is seen as an infinite cycle of birth and death. From the same period, there are Tibi suavis daedala tellus submittit. La terra feconda di frutti/The fruitful earth gives you pleasant (things). The fruitful earth and Il tempo muta la natura delle cose/Time changes the nature of things, on display in 1964 in a dedicated room at the Biennale of Venice.
In addition, the exhibition focuses on another recurring theme of Cavaliere's artistic view, the cage, as the symbol of limitations and constrictions that fall on man. It is a condition well represented in E gli uomini vollero piuttosto le tenebre che la luce/And men wanted darkness more than light, 1967, and analysed in depth in the several following works titled W la libertà/Hooray for freedom. Here the natural elements, imprisoned inside strict geometrical forms, try to escape without success. The sculptor says: "the cage was the feeling of oppression brought about by something we can't escape. I have also imprisoned recollections, memories, things once lost. Nature was blossoming inside this cage".
Worth mentioning are the monumental sculptures such as the magnificent Albero per Adriana/Tree for Adriana, 1970, and Mezzo albero/Half a tree, 1971. The layout ends up in the 1990s with the unique installation Grande pianta. Dafne/Tall tree. Dafne (450x410x400cm), 1991. This work reinterprets the myth of Apollo and Dafne as told in Ovid's Metamorfosi/Metamorphoses, and portrays the female figure wrapped up in an intricate bundle of branches. It hints at the symbiotic link between man and the natural world.
The display in the Sala delle Cariatidi shows how the artist has anticipated decades earlier the problems and awareness that are crucial today. In this regard, Elena Pontiggia says: "In Twentieth Century sculpture, no artist has sculptured the world of vegetation - more precisely, the green universe of leaves, fruit, bushes, shrubs, and trees - like Alik Cavaliere has". In his artistic research he has indeed dealt with many subjects, as one can see in the different venues of the exhibition, but the theme of nature - in its aspects of luxuriance and suffering, expansion and constriction - is at the centre of his work.
In Cavaliere's work the several sources of his artistic inspiration - from De Chirico to Magritte, from Giacometti to Duchamp, from Informal to Pop Art to Conceptual Art, without forgetting few reminiscences of Art Nouveau, even though reinterpreted altogether with more irony and alarm - are charged with lots of fascinating poetical and philosophical elements, and references to Lucretius, Campanella, Petrarch, Leopardi, Giordano Bruno, Spinoza, Shakespeare, Rousseau, and Ariosto. Thus, the artist creates works rich in meanings, though never literary or merely related to their contents. In his art, existential queries blend with Dada games, the precision of the form from surrealism alternate with the freedom of matter from informal art, the crafting feel of the sculpture lives together with the conceptual process, creating some amongst the most peculiar and difficult to label works in the variety of present artistic ways of expression.
Next to the central group of works at Palazzo Reale, the spread exhibition presents specific topics in the other venues as a homage to Alik Cavaliere from the city of Milan.
The Museum of Novecento hosts the series "Le avventure di Gustavo B./The adventures of Gustavo B.", starting from G.B. si innamora della signorina bene, a work bought into the City collections in 1984, on the opening of the CIMAC (City Museum of Contemporary Art). In addition, on display for the public there are another four sculptures and a painting from the same series, devised by the artist between 1960 and 1963. They are dedicated to the "surreal" incidents of the imaginary Mr. Gustavo B., somehow an alter ego of the artist.
As part of the innovative project Palazzo Litta Cultura/Palazzo Litta Culture, devised by the Lombardy Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities and Tourism, and MoscaPartners, Palazzo Litta hosts the work E sarà sempre di tutti quelli che credono con la loro arte di defraudare la natura/And it will always be of those who with their art believe to defraud nature (1967) in the garden inside the Cortile d'Onore (Courtyard of Honour). Meanwhile, Gallerie d'Italia hosts the sculptures Racconto in bronze (1966) and W la libertà/Hurray for freedom (1976-77), which reinterpret the theme of the caged plants. Bocconi University - Sala Ristorante focuses on the original four-handed incisions Attraversare il tempo/Crossing time, made with the help of Vincenzo Ferrari. Finally, the Alik Cavaliere Artistic Centre offers a large collection of works of small and large sizes, on display inside the building and in the garden.
A catalogue accompanies the series of exhibitions, published by Silvana Editoriale with texts by the curator Elena Pontiggia, by Francesco Tedeschi, Angela Vettese, Francesca Porreca, and Davide Polesel, a poem on Cavaliere by Miklos Varga, and a testimony by the artist's daughter, Fania Cavaliere.
The exhibition is part of a series of events that Palazzo Reale - for three years in a row now - includes in a summer programme meant to explore contemporary art. This year, they reinforce their offer with the cooperation of the Museum of Novecento, presenting the city with four artists to tell of the creativity of our times: Agostino Bonalumi, Alik Cavaliere and Pino Pinelli at Palazzo Reale, Agostino Ferrari at the Museum of Novecento.