Casts, shadows, smoke, light, space and silence: for Claudio Parmiggiani a work is never a gesture of good manners, neither calming, nor optimistic but a hard, radical, extreme gesture.
Born in Luzzara (in the province of Reggio Emilia) in 1943, Claudio Parmiggiani trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Modena. He attended the study of Giorgio Morandi in Bologna at a very young age.
In the early 1960s, he was close to the Gruppo ’63 and the poets gathered around the magazine Il Verri by Luciano Anceschi, contributing to the climate of intense collaboration between the visual arts and poetry of the time. The most intense and lasting partnership, however, will be with the Milanese intellectual Emilio Villa.
Between the late sixties and the early seventies he devoted himself to “measuring” works in which geographical maps and crumpled globes deny the certainties of the physical world (as in Atlas, created in 1970 with texts by Nanni Balestrini and Emilio Villa) .
At the same time he also creates works entirely focused on space, such as labyrinths composed of broken crystals and Light, light, light (1968), in which he sprinkles the floor of a gallery with a yellow pigment that produces a dazzling light.
The first Delocations belong to the same period, made up of shadows, obtained by putting canvases or objects on the walls and then saturating the environment with smoke, so as to obtain in a few minutes the effect that time could create in years. Just the Delocations constitute a first reflection on the theme of absence, which will become fundamental in all his subsequent artistic production.
In 1975 Parmiggiani designs a sculpture (which will only be completed in 1991) whose parts are located in Italy, Egypt, France and Czechoslovakia and is therefore impossible to see in one moment.
In the following decades he exhibited in large museums and worked on international commissions. He holds solo exhibitions in Italy (at the PAC in Milan in 1992) and abroad, from the Albert Totah Gallery in New York (1986) to the Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna (1987), from the Museum of Modern Art in Strasbourg (1987) at the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid (1990), by the Gallery of Modern Art in Prague (1993) at the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris (1997).
He was invited several times to the Venice Biennale (1972, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1995) and in 1998 one of his most important exhibitions was hosted by the Promotrice delle Belle Arti of Turin and curated by Gianni Vattimo.
Silence as a matter of art
The theme of absence accompanies its entire production, together with the silence that it considers an essential material and element within art, as a reaction to those languages that make clamor and superficiality their main artistic goal.
With the personal Silencio a voz alta (the text of which is the quote at the beginning of the article), he was the first Italian artist to exhibit in Cuba, in the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, Cuba, for the Thinkers project Guests, curated by Abel Herero (2006).
Caludio Parmiggiani and the image
Claudio Parmiggiani’s artistic research is pervaded by a deep iconoclastic spirit. Starting from a conceptual matrix, the artist conducted a continuous reflection on the nature of the images and above all on the role of their emotional and cultural references.
His re-appropriation of the essence of the image takes place through different materials and techniques, from photography to the cast, from the fragment to the assembly of antithetical elements.
The works of the Delocazione series are emblematic, the labyrinths of broken crystals such as the Theater of Art and War, created in 2006 at the Farnese Theater of Parma, and the Icelandic Lighthouse (2000) a permanent work created on the outskirts of Reykjavik , in one of the most frozen places in the world, which stands alone along the road that goes to the most famous glaciers and volcanoes of the island.
Parmiggiani is also the author of Stella Sangue Spirito (Actes Sud, 2000) and A faith in nothing but total (Le Lettere, 2010).