The voice of materials

December 3, 2021

Milan • Pablo Atchugarry’s grand exhibition at the Palazzo Reale

More than 40 sculptures illustrate the long career of the Uruguayan artist in the Sala delle Cariatidi

Whether because of the pandemic, or because of new (and already old) cold wars, or because of impetuous egotism fueled by social media, today more than ever, we could, perhaps should, compare our individual lives to a tired monad, an ethical, aesthetic, thankfully sometimes heretical solipsism, particularly in those brief moments when, in the eyes of a loved one, we realise that we are something more than ourselves. We and reality, in fact, are something more complex, said the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze: folds containing other folds, continuous refolds resting on each other, contradictions between fullness and emptiness, light and shadow, sound and silence. In this sense, Pablo Atchugarry’s sculpture could be said to be both realist and utopian: realistic in its play between presence and absence, utopian in its search for harmony between them. Vita della Materia (Life of Matter) is the title of the exhibition in the Sala delle Cariatidi at Palazzo Reale (40 works - curated by Marco Meneguzzo - Skira catalogue - main sponsor Euromobil - 27 October to 31 January 2022).

For him, sculpting is like pursuing a secret. he listens to the MATERIALS, to the veins in marble and wood

The Uruguayan artist perceives his sculptural practice as the pursuit of a secret, a search that stems from listening to the voice of matter as well as the veins in marble and wood. And if this works for a centuries-old olive tree, why shouldn’t it work for us? As well as modelling the material in pursuit of its voice, the sculptor shapes the silence of what we are unable to say. Sculptures, especially when they retain their natural colouring, are like numerous portraits. The shading thus becomes a reflection of moods and the plasticity an invitation to imagine other forms of being, a kind of doubling in which, as Rimbaud wrote in his famous Letter from the Seer, “I am another”.

Atchugarry shapes the silence of what we cannot say. His sculptures are like numerous portraits

Folds, refolding: alienation that is at the same time recognition of self and others. Perhaps one is not a sculptor if one is not affected at least a little by the Pygmalion complex: Ovid tells of the eponymous artist who, having fallen in love with his statue, starts kissing it and touching it until the marble becomes flesh and the work comes to life. Like veils that gently peel away, edges that feed the passion for oneself and for others, Atchugarry’s sculptures, thanks to skillfully distributed lines and silences, bring out all the sex appeal of the material processed with love. The sculptor obsessed with creation falls in love with his work, and the work responds. Because being oneself is not enough for anyone: that is why we have called upon love and art. Illusions, perhaps: but if life is a dream, what could be more concrete?

The shadows are reflections of states of mind and the plasticity an invitation to imagine other forms of being


Pablo Atchugarry Vita della materia

Milan Palazzo Reale

Curated by Marco Meneguzzo

Catalogue Skira


The Author

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After deciding, at the age of seven, to become a writer, he spent the next thirty years participating in various editorial activities - as an essayist, translator, critic - but always avoiding that goal he set for himself when he was a child. In the meanwhile, he cultivates his graphomania and collaborates with the IULM University of Milan holding courses in Philosophy of art and Aesthetics. When he is not on the couch with a book in his hand, he is on the road. Indeed he is travelling also when he is on the couch with a book in his hand. Or when he visits an exhibition, or watches a movie. His mind is never present but always wandering.

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