Natural phenomena enclosed in showcases of different shapes and sizes (designed and manufactured by the artist), returned to artificial life or materialised in the energy of the drawing, are some of the ways in which Donato Piccolo gives shape to his enduring interest in physics, in search of answers regarding the relationship between nature and fiction, man and nature, and the dynamic interplay between them. In exploring these themes, what is particularly striking is the relationship between rules and chance together with the concept of the spontaneous rupture of nature’s symmetry as outlined in the Nambu-Jona-Lasinio model.
It is in the force of these dynamics that the thought of Donato Piccolo meets and finds confirmation in the theories developed by Zygmunt Bauman (1925 – 2017) and his vision of a Liquid Society, which considerably anticipated the arrival of the digital era. Piccolo’s work challenges theories of physics through experiential form. In the artificial activation of natural phenomena, by entrusting these to chance and the interaction between man and the environment, by inciting endless processes of transformation from one state to another (i.e. from sound to form, from water to steam, from electricity to sound), Bauman’s theories and vision of a liquid society – ephemeral and in search of stability through unstable elements – is validated.
Mike Watson, curator of the exhibition and author of the accompanying essay, notes that: «To add a layer of complexity, in line with Nambu-Jona-Lasinio’s model of quantum field theory, Piccolo links the concept of fluidity to scientific discovery, where the natural and mathematic symmetrical decompositions do no harm to our understanding of nature but are, in fact, capable of determining new conditions, which are then assimilated by theory».
The hypnotising beauty of three tornadoes, where external sound vibrations give shape and direction to the winding of steam inside the showcase, plunges us into Bauman’s thinking from an experiential perspective. The series of drawings carried out for this exhibition pushes experience into a reflective corner, following a direct link between things, installations and drawings – between reflection and reality.
The series of drawings carried out for this exhibition reflect on Bauman’s thought by associating and superimposing citations from the philosopher’s work with images where sculptures shaped in physical space sometimes emerge, now reabsorbed in the imagined dimension of the drawing.
Donato Piccolo’s art, which has always been in tune with the concept of a liquid society, now extends to a reflection on art at large – thisis a theme cherished by Bauman, who eventually turned it into the subject for one of his essays. As a demiurge artist, Donato Piccolo places himself at a crossroads, between the philosopher and his works, between reason and experience, between order and chaos. As always, visitor is left in a privileged position.
The citations included in the drawings are actually incomplete, waiting to be expanded through the onlooker’s gaze and consciousness. With this new series of works, the exhibition continues Piccolo’s research and thought, intersecting with past work to produce new dynamics where reason and the irrepressible power of nature dissolve into the liquid flux of events,where a tornado might suck everything and everyone into the ephemeral force of its vortex.
Donato Piccolo. Liquid Thoughts, curated by Mike Watson, Seno Gallery, Milan, 04.05 – 21.06.2017
images: (cover 1) Donato Piccolo, «The liquid state of mind», 2017, drawing on paper, 160×106 cm (2) Donato Piccolo, Il segno del mare sul cielo, 2015, drawing on paper, 82×105 cm (3) Donato Piccolo, Immateriale II, 2016, demineralized water, glass, plexiglass, ultrasound nebulizer, diachronic light, electronic phono system for modifying the digital-analogic signal DSCN. (3) Donato Piccolo, «Trasformazione (Immateriale III)», 2017, demineralized water, glass, plexiglass, diachronic light, electronic phono system for modifying the digital-analogic signal DSCN (4) Donato Piccolo, «Silencers in the sky», 2016, drawing on paper, 160×106 cm.