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Exhibition at S.M.A.K. goes to the core of Italian sculptor Massimo Bartolini's work
Massimo Bartolini, The Flying Dutchman, 2002.

GHENT.- Massimo Bartolini (Cecina, IT, 1962) is considered one of the most important Italian ‘sculptors’ of his generation. The work best known to us is his BOOKYARDS (2012), an open-air library he created in the vineyard of St Peter’s Abbey as part of the city-wide TRACK exhibition. But he was also invited to the Venice Biennale in 1999, 2009 and 2013 and to Documenta 13 in 2012, where, for a surprising work called UNTITLED (WAVE) he made a rectangular pool in which a wave rolled back and forth, thereby watering a surrounding barley field.

Bartolini’s atypical exhibition under the title STUDIO MATTERS +1 goes to the core of his work and assumes the form of two overlapping and complementary presentations, one here at the S.M.A.K. and one at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. In both places a single large-scale installation is put up in the setting of a unique selection of small objects from the artist’s studio. The ‘studio matters’ in the title refer to these small objects – ‘studio matters’ means both ‘studio materials’ and ‘the studio is important’ – and the ‘+1’ refers to the monumental installation. The relationship between Bartolini’s better-known installations and his intimate, more biographical studio work has until now remained virgin territory.

“I like to stay in the studio,” says Bartolini. In his studio he knocks things together and experiments with objects and materials. He can think while he is creating, think by creating, so that his ideas take shape almost by chance. Yet the objects that come into being in this way are not true preliminary studies for the installations that have brought him international renown. He incorporates music into his installation OTRA FIESTA, where he activates a shift of perspective and gives a slant to anything that seems stable and immutable. By using light and music in a specific way, he creates spaces with a tactile power. This in-situ-work took shape outside his studio and can only be made by “Massimo Bartolini plus at least one other person”. This gives extra significance to the ‘+1’ in the title of the exhibition.

Bartolini’s huge OTRA FIESTA is shown in the large middle room of S.M.A.K. upstairs and may be a reference to a church organ, but it works like a barrel organ that plays automatically. The air blown through the metal pipes first passes through the holes in the music roll, giving rise to variations in tone and length. The small objects and drawings in the side rooms to the left and right of the large middle room come straight from Bartolini’s studio and are being shown for the first time.

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