Creative Mechanism at Viasaterna gallery in Milan

Creative Mechanism at Viasaterna gallery in Milan

Why do we believe that art is the product of a creative genius? It is an idea that we have inherited from a past culture and that was introduced by the theories of intellectuals and then spread to all of society. At the end of the 18th century, in philosophy the notion that every artwork is the product of genius, that is, a natural talent, spread; the artist thus becomes a genius subjectivity, permanently removed from the perception of producer and craftsman or scientist with the responsibility of setting the rules of art. The group exhibition “Meccanica” at the Viasaterna gallery in Milan aims instead to celebrate the work of artists who employ devices and tools not classically associated with the visual art production. Curated by Giorgio Verzotti, the exhibition brings together: Dadamaino (Milan, 1930 – 2004), Irma Blank (Calle 1934 – Milan, 2023), Niele Toroni (Locarno, 1937), Sergio Lombardo (Rome, 1939), Bertrand Lavier (Châtillon sur Seine, 1949), Giovanni Rizzoli (Venice, 1963), Daniele Innamorato (Milan, 1969) and Camilla Gurgone (Lucca, 1997).

Installation view “Meccanica”, group show curated by Giorgio Verzotti. Courtesy Viasaterna, photo credit Carola Merello

In different and original ways, all the artists incorporate forms of automation into their practice, making use of: mathematical mechanisms and algorithms, devices related to the medical-scientific sphere, artificial intelligence and ready-made devices. They practice a mechanical art (as Kant called it) that generates works after learning often technical knowledge. The media thus become co-creators contributing significantly not only to the production process but to the end result itself. Mechanical art leads to a synergy between machine and human, who becomes a technician guiding the capabilities of technology in order to explore otherwise unattainable creative territories. New territories of art are thus opened up. The exhibition is a multifaceted documentation and exploration of the possible combinations that artistic practice can weave with tools generally alien to it. Through the works on display, the intent to redefine the “sacredness” of artistic production emerges.

Camilla Gurgone, “Process to Shape the Imaginary n° 7”, 2024, command rod, print on thermal paper, stainless steel, 170 x 85 x 70 cm © Camilla Gurgone, courtesy Viasaterna

Dadamaino is present with her geometric-perceptual serially made reliefs created by superimposing perforated plastic films, Irma Blank with her organic “transcription” of human breath. Niele Toroni with the repetition of brushstrokes placed on any surface and at the same distance, Sergio Lombardo with canvases composed of colorful patterns generated through algorithms that stir the viewer’s subliminal perceptions. Bertrand Lavier with canvases-tovases that depotentiate the creative act by mixing “high” art and everyday life, Giovanni Rizzoli with upholstered sculptures covered in damask fabric that he skewers with an IV filled with acrylic paint. Camilla Gurgone excludes the subject by using artificial intelligence to generate dreamlike images printed on thermal paper that fades away or creates performances by collecting found receipts whose groceries she replicates. Daniele Innamorato performs an impersonal gestural painting, spreading large sheets of cellophane over several layers of acrylics which, when removed, create random signs and shapes.. All these artists in the exhibition represent as varied a mapping of twentieth-century experiences and trends as possible.

Giovanni Rizzoli, “Tempo, apertura flebo 20.06.2014, ore 11.45 Ospedaletti”, 2014, wood, rubber and blue drip, 36 x 22 x 9 cm © Giovanni Rizzoli, courtesy of the artist and Viasaterna

The observer’s confrontation with the aforementioned practices evokes fantastic considerations on the hybridizations between human and artificial, for example, on what is the role of the artist in production today considering co-authorship with machines; or on the possibilities and impossibilities of mechanics. “Meccanica” does not aim for a decisive and certain answer; on the contrary, it suggests to us that although a work is the product of autonomous technology, it is the artist who defines its action parameters to provide the product with cultural meaning and value. Moreover, the exhibition represents a kind of visual timeline of the evolution of artistic practices that integrate mechanical procedures: by collecting modern and contemporary models it exhibits the way in which the perception of mechanical art evolves.

Installation view “Meccanica”, group show curated by Giorgio Verzotti. Courtesy Viasaterna, photo credit Carola Merello

The curatorial work leading up to “Meccanica” studied controversial and debated questions about the nature of art raised particularly by an automation. The works on display expand expressive potential through human ingenuity in a journey that combines solutions ranging from ready-made to artificial intelligence, a stimulating challenge for contemporary art critics. This exhibition democratizes the creative act by untying it from that perceived result of genius talent while maintaining the active action of the artist. The featured artists demonstrate that art is not exclusive to genius, but can be the result of participatory and accessible processes, offering a variety of approaches and new horizons for both the public and the art practice itself.

Irene Follador


07/04 – 19/06/2024
Galleria Viasaterna
Via Leopardi, 32, 20123, Milano


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