Art is a world subjected to a cyclicity of which the logic seems considerably impenetrable. Thematics, materials, manners and hanging styles create general enthusiasm over a few years, before it suddenly disappears: this makes certain artworks easy to place in a period of time. Yet, one of the most striking characteristics of Giuseppe Gabellone’s work is to be almost impossible to put a date on (this is an idea raised by François Piron in 2009). It does not seem to have been produced in the past nor, of course, in any future; it simply remains there in the space, floating in all its glorious autonomy, uncompromising with trends of the times and without any ready response to demands for clarification.
This way of functioning can naturally be applied to his exhibitions in general and to this one in particular. The artist explains “I find the garden more interesting than the forest”, and, in fact, the mastery affirmed through his work has more to do with the manipulation and taming of nature and the creation of a world in miniature than it does with the contemplation of an untamed universe. This world is constructed in black and white around three ensembles. The first consists of bas-reliefs made from metal and transparent resin. Less thick than those which the artist has produced until now, their surface varies and takes in light at its own rhythm. Evoking windows through their form and way of hanging, they stand alongside a large black sculpture fixed on an imposing base, and two tin sculptures (shoes) on the ground at the entrance. The exhibition is thus composed of size, weight, balance, definitions and materials. The black sculpture is extremely outlined, almost like a wave, whilst the windows offer a foggy transparency to the eye. The shoes are weighed down in the field of gravity, whilst the other pieces are in suspension. Black and white are united in the metallic reflections of the tin. We move from figurative to abstract, from emptiness to fullness. The decorative aspect moves towards asceticism. Plant and animal become one. The exhibition fits perfectly into the minimalism, not of the forms but of the experience, which characterizes the work of the Italian artist. He creates the conditions of necessary attention (which so often makes fault) to the mechanisms of poetics, materials and visuals that preside over the composition of spaces.
Settled in Paris for fifteen years, Gabellone was associated with the Milanese Gruppo di Via Fiuggi (the group of Fiuggi Street) at the turn of the year 2000. The protagonists of the movement, friends and artists, contributed to redefining contemporary sculpture in Italy (notably by rethinking the heritage of Arte Povera and Conceptual Art). “Trying new things is the driving force”, he henceforth explains. He has thus set aside the production of photography of sculptures (certainly the most well-known facet of his work) to invest frontally in the sculptural field. Bamboo, ropes, glass, died cotton canvases, resin of every kind, polymer foam and even tobacco. Marble is the only material that he is yet to test (surprising for an artist who grew up surrounded by blocks of cut stone by his grandfather, a marble worker). Each new project gives way to material experimentation, here with tin and this extremely black resin. Besides, the artist keeps in his studio a meticulous archive of his experiments that he conserves in boxes with precisely annotated samples. When asked about his choice of materials and forms, Gabellone replies simply that he prefers those with which he can work alone in his studio and that he can manage on his own.
Therefore, he does not delegate the production of his pieces, except for very rare exceptions. His method consists of finding the material that suits the atmosphere and the type of image he has in mind: it is thus impossible for him to make a preparatory drawing. If the term ‘radical’ is often overused to the point that we strangely appoint it with superlatives (‘very radical’, ‘deeply radical’, ‘really radical’), it perfectly applies to this independence cultivated with stubbornness, and to this rigorous exploration of methods and mediums of sculpture.