Silvia Listorti. Clinamen

Democritus’ ontology was based on the intuition of infinite eternal, immutable and indivisible atoms, the first principle of all reality, in incessant movement within an infinite empty space. The Democritean atoms, infinitesimal quantities of the same matter perceptible only through the intellect, were completely devoid of qualitative determinations, but differed in the quantitative aspects of shape, order and position. This concept, taken up by Epicurean physics and subsequently by the Latin poet Lucretius in De rerum natura, was the basis of the clinamen atomistic theory, according to which reality was composed of eternally moving atoms, which – aggregating and disaggregating following random deviations from their vertical fall line – gave rise to different bodies and their becoming in terms of birth and death. A causeless fatality that occurs in a sphere closed to our sensorial perceptions is therefore, according to these theories, the foundation of sensible reality and of our own bodies. Silvia Listorti’s poetics (Milan, 1987) also recalls this mental horizon: in her first solo show at the Studio G7 gallery in Bologna she draws precisely on the philosophical suggestions evoked here to suggest the common thread of her artistic research, centered on a discreet and passionate refraction, about the changing and fragile nature of existence.

Silvia Listorti. “Clinamen”, exhibition view, courtesy galleria Studio G7, Bologna

The exhibition is populated by five new works in dialogue with the exhibition space, an environment made rarefied and sensitive by their diaphanous presence, which delicately punctuates it by pausing its conceptual white with other white shades, at times punctuated by soft colour notes. Each of these works takes the form of a Democritean event, like the reverberation of a gesture that the artist leaves in the material, awaiting (and inviting us to await) its infinitesimal atmospheric repercussions. Emblematic in this sense is the installation Se le orecchie vedono e gli occhi ascoltano (If the ears see and the eyes listen), composed by nine white terracotta modules of equal size. These parallelepipeds, similar to reams of untouched paper or blocks of clay yet to be moulded, appear tenderly homologated in their imperfections, which enliven them without weakening their archetypal aura. Their synchronic coexistence on a purely mental level is superimposed by the diachrony of the artist’s action, who on the surface of each of them has left the imprint of an ear, alternately the right and the left, suggesting the unfolding of a listening movement. In all her works Silvia Listorti, in instinctive adherence to the logic underlying Epicurean physics, seems to interpret her gesture as a solicitation of space and matter in which the work is the result of the spontaneous rearrangement of the existing after having metabolised the repercussions of this movement. The inversion of the senses suggested by the title (and her works often bear names to be listened to like poetic fragments), amplifies the visible in the further dimension of the word, confirming the existence of a measure that gives rhythm to creation whatever the means of expression used by her.

Silvia Listorti, “Alle spalle, la notte”, 2024, vetro, 40 x 14 x 14 cm, courtesy galleria Studio G7, Bologna

The emotional fulcrum of the exhibition is in the work Alle spalle, la notte (Behind, the night), a sinuous undulating glass cavity, an ambiguous and desiring form, generated by the cast of the artist’s shoulders, which sublimates its organic matrix in transparency. Therefore not a hint of a male or female body nor the identification of an albeit fleeting boundary to separate the self from the other, but the attempt to give visual tangibility to the vibration of a breath that detects one of the multiple facets of the space in which we are immersed. The lightness of the artist’s reworking is comparable to the steam that, when we breathe, we deposit on a cold surface, on which, when it dissolves, the otherwise latent traces left over time by other events appear for a moment. Silvia Listorti, moving on tiptoe in space, crosses the material and then takes a step back to listen to the absence in search of a non-answer, offering those who share her “faith in nothing but total” a neutral space in which what exists is the natural consequence of what matter does on its own when it is activated but not forced. If what therefore seems to shape the sculpture is the slight gravity that her intervention transmits to the constituent atoms of the material that receives its imprint, the same desire to come into contact with space, conditioning its vibrations with the ethereal weight of her entry into the interior is also at the origin of the creation of the drawings.

Silvia Listorti, from the left: “Sovrapposizione”, 2023, graphite and indigo blue and yellow pigments on rice paper, 24 x 18 cm; “Sovrapposizione”, 2023, graphite and earth pigments green and cobalt yellow (Aureolina) on rice paper, 24 x 18 cm, courtesy galleria Studio G7, Bologna

In the graphic series entitled Sovrapposizione (Superimposition), the space is the porous and permeable one of rice paper, on which graphite and pure pigments are stratified horizontally, consuming the support and modifying its thickness depending on the artist’s insistence in focusing on each single point with the attention that gives strength to her hand. As in the sculptures, subtle gradations of opacity and transparency return, applied to a chromatic range that for the first time is not limited to the minimal dialectic between the black graphite and the white sheet that her previous production followed. This sequence, quintessentially delicate like all the other works in the exhibition, reveals more than the sculptures that strong-willed and determined aspect that gives conceptual rigor to the enchantment of her poetics. In the use of primary tones carefully diluted to be “intermediate” we therefore find a calibrated perceptive research on the spatiality generated by the colour, while the localized thickening of the graphite in certain portions of the pictorial field, at first sight similar to a fortuitous black dusting, if observed closely it reveals itself as a capillary micro-structure, stable and coherent despite its almost vaporous consistency.


Silvia Listorti. Clinamen
9/04 – 14/06/2024
Galleria studio G7
via Val D’Aposa 4/A, Bologna


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