Pier Paolo Calzolari | And I Say

February 16 - March 25, 2017

Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present our third solo exhibition of Italian artist Pier Paolo Calzolari titled AND I SAY. The exhibition further develops upon the artist’s decades-long practice of using commonplace and organic materials, including salt, lead, oyster shells, frost, and fire as a means of exploring states of matter, transience, light, and beauty. On view from February 16 to March 25, 2017, the exhibition features two separate immersive installations, new paintings, and a series of lead wall works. AND I SAY is the second single-artist exhibition to be presented across the gallery’s adjacent spaces at 507 and 509 W. 24th Street.


Through his deliberate dialogue with art history, Calzolari has distinguished himself from his Arte Povera peers, who frequently embraced an avant-garde rejection of the cultural past. AND I SAY reflects this continued engagement, drawing on traditions cited by the artist as ranging from primitive African graffiti to Cretan and Pompeiian painting, Japanese decorative arts, and elements of Mannerism and the Baroque. Through his comprehensive repositioning of art historical sources, Calzolari’s work offers a meditation on the experience of art across time, exploring the tension between the fleeting nature of life and materials and the perennial expressions of artistic traditions.

At 509 W. 24th Street, a four-part pigment painting leads the way to an enclosed temple-like space designed by the artist, filled with a semicircle of canvases mounted on wood. Appearing monochromatic from a distance, the surface of each of the panels is finely disrupted with flower petals and thin white stems. With references to the centuries-old Japanese Nihonga painting tradition, which frequently used dry pigments derived from ground natural ingredients, such as minerals and shells, the installation is reminiscent of a large-scale decorative Shoji screen.


This spirit of contemplative space is continued at 507 W. 24th Street in the main gallery where a triptych of brown and black felts is presented spanning 20 feet wide and 10 feet high. Evoking an altarpiece, the felts have been masterfully burnt by the artist in a process that creates subtle textural changes. The resulting gradations resemble a sky of gathering clouds and radiant light, ominous, yet pure. Two similarly divine works accompany the triptych, one made with malleable metals lead and tin and another with gauze veiled onto canvas. In other areas of the gallery, Calzolari shows a series of lead wall works, their lustrous surfaces oxidized and delicately embellished with burnt nuts, paper, and string. Through the artist’s ability to seemingly suspend a moment, an instinctive empathy exists between himself and his materials—an understanding of nature’s mutability and inherent fragility.


Pier Paolo Calzolari was born in Bologna, Italy, in 1943. As one of the original members of Arte Povera, he was included in the movement’s seminal 1960s exhibitions curated by Germano Celant. Calzolari’s first exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery in 2012 was the artist’s first in the United States in over 20 years. Calzolari’s works are included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Guggenheim Museum, New York, Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Palazzo Grassi, Punta della Dogana François Pinault Foundation, Venice, amongst many others. He has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (1985, 2013), Documenta (1992), Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume (1994), Venice Biennale (1978, 2007), Ca’ Pesaro, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna (2011), the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (2011), and the Centre Pompidou (2016). The artist currently lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal.