2021.4.8 – 5.8
“His canvases are like my films: they speak of nothingness with accuracy,” wrote the great Michelangelo Antonioni, in an extraordinary correspondence with Mark Rothko. And how do you blame him? It is easy to look at one of Antonioni’s masterpieces randomly from start to finish, and you find yourself at the closing credits wondering, “ok, but when does the film start?” This is because he managed to get rid of the fetish of narration, just like Rothko in his paintings.
Well, Giovanni Ozzola’s attitude is in that matrix. This series of works by him (but I would dare to say all his works) do not have the ambition of the story, but are a single sequence shot that speaks to us of a very precise moment, of a portion of the present. And if it is true that his research walks on the legs of simplification, it is equally true that his need is to find a theatrical lexicon, which reveals his surprising path only when the adventure is complete and which allows him to abandon the world and enter the work. The images it offers us are not a simple representation, they are a flow of living matter that is our accomplice. In fact, the human presence is never there, because it is the viewer himself who represents it and completes the work.
In the relay race, the athletes play in a team and compete one at a time in succession, but there is a moment in these races that has a eurythmic, orchestral flavor: the passing of the baton. That moment, which lasts a few moments and is almost imperceptible, is always seen in Ozzola’s hotographs: all the sense of that split second. The work is not a simple two-dimensional surface hanging on a wall, but it is an entity that awaits us, that winks and is ready to officiate the harmonic rite, to complete and complete us. And it is not easy to evoke the human presence without falling into the trap of showing it, because at that point the story would be defined and we could not build ours: this is the peculiarity of great artists, who in a certain sense abdicate the role of presenting a complete work, because in the finite the possibility of infinity disappears, which is much more intriguing.
This is why Ozzola uses urban scars, places with such strong symbolism that they become archetypal, to offer us an opening to other worlds. And be careful though, because there is no talk of escapism: those distant horizons, whether evoked or explicit, are not enough in themselves and need those human archaeologies such as those abandoned concrete huts, the interiors of anonymous apartments or the streets of broken asphalt. They complement each other and give a sense of symmetry to us who look, because in those walls we can protect ourselves, in that light we can instead navigate. And all those closed environments that offer a distant perspective allow us to live an exclusive experience of solitude, which is a word as complex as it is open to the most diverse interpretations. We are alone in front of Ozzola’s works and it is up to each of us to decide whether he is a healthy voluntary hermitage or an annoying abandonment. What then is wrong to say that we are “in front” of the work, and perhaps it is not even correct to say that we are “inside” it: we are the work. Those structures are our skull and the perspectives our gaze.
The environments of Ozzola penetrate the world and trace a division, a passage, a border area that is entirely internal to ourselves. Jung said that as far as we can discern, the only purpose of human existence is to turn on a light in the darkness of mere being and then in front of these photographs we certainly grasp the sense of the signs that the human being has traced, as a primordial desire to remain, to leave something, but also a sort of aesthetic short-circuit where there is no longer any distinction between nature and artifice. Ozzola tells us that these are categories of the mind that have nothing to do with the absolute and therefore invites us to free ourselves from the ghetto of knowledge, to transport us into its allegory, in a perspective that narrates the ephemeral value of beauty and places the artist almost in the compulsion to testify that moment. And there is an almost fable-like character in these works, especially in those of the flowers: Giovanni told me that he had lived a very long spring for a period, because in a long pilgrimage between the Canary Islands, China, Cuba and other places he was to experience a sort of memento mori, where the maximum of beauty was expressed and therefore the urgency was dictated by immanent transience. And then those petals, which once again are not in contrast with the asphalt, but become color on the canvas that these destroyed streets represent, offer Ozzola the opportunity to see and witness that dazzling moment that precedes the great explosions, that beauty that takes your breath away and makes us forget that everything is about to end.
It is the refusal of the future, as if chasing an eternal present, where those petals are the hypnotic trace and sound of the Pied Piper. And in these interior projections Ozzola makes us lose, we are no longer human beings, but the substance and essence of a scratch, of a groove made of immateriality, of a precarious sign that does not age, but warms. And then, in the will to live those works as our monopoly, to feel those environments that are ours and ours alone, Ozzola will succeed in the magic of unveiling by hiding, confusing us and making us indefinable even for ourselves, without selfishness and boundaries.
Text by Nicolas Ballario
313 Art Project
5F, 11, Apgujeong-ro 60-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
+82 2 3445 3137