ZURICH.- Hauser & Wirth Zürich
is presenting Eden, a newly conceived curatorial investigation of Fausto Melotti, the Italian artist often linked with titans of the post-war era, such as Alexander Calder, Lucio Fontana and Alberto Giacometti. This examination of Melotti is the first of its kind, highlighting the relationship between human and animal figures a dynamic at the core of his practice. The exhibition spans the diverse media employed by the artist, chiefly ceramics, sculpture and works on paper, with those embracing a more gestural and suggestive representation brought to the fore.
Melotti began his sculptural practice with a distinct interest in form, weight, balance and movement, informed by his educational background in physics, mathematics and engineering. The 1950s saw a radical shift in the artists creative approach as he started to incorporate wire in his work this new direction had a profound impact on the course of Melottis career and would occupy him until his late years. Eden focuses on the burgeoning of this shift and takes visitors through Melottis lyrical and polyhedral vocabulary into a mythological and visionary terrain, as if to be among the artists own Garden of Eden.
Melotti turned towards the animal form as he began to focus on the creation of mythological landscapes. The work on paper I Viaggi (The Journeys) (1951) exemplifies the artists interest in mystical beasts and beings: the wet, dripping tempera paint becomes a tool that blurs the dividing lines between the animal and human bodies depicted, conveying them as indivisible. I Viaggi, like many of his abstract sculptures, shows a continued interest in symmetry, maintaining compositional balance among the figures. In addition, Melotti can be seen as breaking with a definitive commitment to line and structure, leaning towards a more gestural investigation of form. The earthy hues of his colour palette burnt ochre, teal, charcoal evoke an abundant land, emphasising the celestial character of the figures. The artist would continue with this approach to line and colour in his late oeuvre.
The selected metal- and wire-based sculptures on view maintain a consistency with the grounding principles of Melottis practice, but reconsider the human figure through an investigation of proportion. I giganti (The giants) (1969 / 1970) comprises an assembly of metal stems poised on a central foundation; fused together at the base, they support one another through equilibrium. Geometric appendages circles, crescents, right angles mimic human forms, suggesting a nodding head or a raised arm. Melottis sensitive manipulation of the metal wire renders the composition animated and joyful, and we see the artist considering the role of proportion and the physical limitations of bodily expression. I giganti is testament to Melottis fascination with refining the theatrical role of the human figure through the lens of strict sculptural principles.
Behind the seemingly blithe and intuitive character of Melottis sculptures, resides a deep conception of art as a rigorous exercise in order and harmony, based on firm principles of geometry and musical structure. In Eden we see how this approach led him to pursue the representation of animals and people, exploring how mathematical principles could align with the figurative and symbolic.