15 billions years ago matter still did not exist. An indistinct radiation at very high energy could be found compressed at an unimaginable density and temperature.
Then the Big Bang, the explosion that allowed the formation of the first quark and later of the elementary particles from which the atoms would be formed.
From that moment on, matter has never stopped arranging itself in shapes always more complex, creating stars, planets, galaxies, stellar heaps and making possible the existence – at least here on planet earth, one among hundreds of thousands of planets of the “Milky Way” – of myriads of living forms that constitute the organic world.
Fascinated by the possibility of manipulating matter and of giving body to the imaginary, the sculptor actively participates in the “life of shapes” analysing them, providing interpretations and enlarging the range of its evolving possibilities.
Like many colleagues of his generation, Giacobbe Giusti is not interested in a mimesis and narrative of sculpture, but wishes to operate on matter as a genetic engineer operates on biological forms. Rather than sculpting, he wants to mould. Thus are born asteroids, fragments of lava flow, conglomerations by the symbolic triangular shape which rise up as mute totem poles from space, circling satellites hurled from remote space onto earthly soil.
It’s the re-creation of a world that contributes to the evolution of forms following two veins of inspirations apparently separate but intimately joined. On one hand that which the philosopher Mario Perniola coined the “sex-appeal of the inorganic”, that fatal attraction of modern man towards the inanimate and the mechanical which – to give an example – finds expression in the powerful image of “Tetsuo, the Iron Man” the sequel of Shinya Tsukamoto where the symbiotic relationship man-machine is represented by a terrible and violent expression. The inorganic, that is not founded on the chemistry of carbon, is thereby given characteristics which are compatible with the organic, loaded with unknown valences, humanized and eroticised in such a way to wear down the already unstable boundaries between the I of contemporary man and the super technical environment he has created.
This explains the presence in Giusti’s work of numerous anthropomorphic forms which often (especially in the installations) populate absurd “forests of crystal” all the while maintaining all their metallic and inhumane state. These chaotic constructions of the same atoms of the shiny stones which surround them, lose all illustrative meaning, priming an emotional turbulence loaded with expectations. They present themselves as alien entities, illusory and enigmatic duplicates which only have an external look of the biologic material, but do not possess its intimate fragility.
If there is an element of the “classic” in Giusti, it is only in his opposition to the concept of art founded on the ephemeral, a desire for eternity well summed up in his favourite material, aluminium. More than by its artificial brilliance, Giusti seems attracted by its elastic and fluid appearance of matter in becoming capable of constant metamorphosis taking on the most unexpected shapes. Just as portrayed in the movie Terminator 2, the liquid metal distributes itself in the most unlikely shapes pulsating into becoming continuously new shapes.
Not from aluminum however, but from silicon – the only other molecule that shows characteristics of versatility similar to carbon – its creative universe is born.
A series of works bear witness to this, “Plant Forms” from 1999, where strange and fascinating extraterrestrial flowers bloom out of rock. Disturbing objects, endowed with great expressive power, these inorganic buds seem to come from the icy and inhospitable environments of some extinct comet millions of years ago and wandering in the outskirts of some large galaxy. They represent “another” possibility of existence and they almost seem to say “this is how things would have turned out if….”.
In fact there is a certain though perhaps casual relationship between the work of Giusti and the so-called “narrative of anticipation”, a relation which upon first questioning belongs to the homologue found (as Renato Barilli has observed numerous times) between the universe of art and that of science and technology, between the cultural plane and the material plan of existence.
Giusti as well seems to believe in the definition by Philip Dick on the work of science-fiction writer: “to build a universe that would not fall to pieces after two minutes”.
Therefore art is fiction, a lie which helps us better understand the world, our smallness in the face of a universe that is too big.
“If you don’t like this world”, Dick used to always write, “it’s because you haven’t knows other worlds”. In fact, the art of Giusti together with the art of many colleagues of his generation, looks to these other worlds, creating and recreating paradigms and laws which govern them.
His latest experiments in fact consist in a curious extra-terrestrial re-setting of his works. It’s meaningful that after having installed his sculptures in historic places of the Tuscan landscape, the artist feels an imperious need to de-contextualize them completely. In this way, he seems to give his audience a precious interpretation, I would venture to say that he seems to propose to us an “archeography” of his work. “The sculptures you see in this ancient church”, the artist appears to say “come from a remote and abysmal space, that is their home to which they may never be able to return. And what you see before your eyes is only a small part of a world inhabited by foreign creatures developed in a manner separate and apart from ours”.
Then that this “other place” may be found within ourselves, in those archetypal forms that reside in our collective unconscious, or that it consists instead in what our culture calls “Art” is only the most emerging aspect of a complex problem. Because obviously what man refers to in this manner is the potential and fictitious reign of freedom, the universe of infinite possibilities.
This illusion to a dimension “other” than reality, that is a fourth dimension that is added to the three normally produced by our senses. Most of Giusti’s works bear its marks. In fact what are those openings, those empty spaces that pierce the body of Fragments, of the Meteorites, of the Asteroids? The reference to Fontana cannot be a casual one. That is the idea of piercing the surface of the work to see what is “beyond”, to go in search of a dimension that is the time, the eternity of the work, the immeasurable distance of deep space.
In other words, the sculpture opens itself not only to its environment becoming what is normally defined as an “installation”, but it also triggers a reflection on a distance that wants to negate each of its contingencies.
However, there is another vein in the aesthetic observation if Giusti, a more organic and figurative aspect well summarized in the recent series of Flowers that are an evolution of the Plant Forms of 1999. Here even the stones have undergone a complete process of aluminiumization, but the pointed and twisted forms do not spout as before. In their place, pairs of soft and “fleshy” flowers rise up which resemble the series of Flowers by Andy Warhol. In fact, life on other planets doesn’t necessarily have to present itself in forms different from the ones we know. On the contrary, as Freud would have it, the artistic production becomes even more “disturbing” if the image produced retains a familiarity with what belongs to our domestic horizon.
And this is said without taking anything away from the playfulness implicit in these works. A Pop representation that frees the sculpture from the sometimes overly tight restrictions of the abstract. Abstract which in Giusti, as we have seen, is always strongly evocative: therefore, pop Flowers, images of mass culture transplanted without disturbance to the interior of a coherent journey. And they too recently placed in the middle of red Martian deserts or gently laid down on the white and inert dust of the moon.
And thus they are likewise endowed with a non-biological and foreign life. Could it be for this reason that they always grow in pairs out of a crystalline base? Beings endowed with senses and possibly with sexual organs, they stretch out their corellas toward the absolute blackness of skies without atmosphere and life. And the play of the artist once more reveals a mysterious and uneasy aspect.
One of these in particular will be the subject of an upcoming performance by the artist. Sectioned in numerous parts by the fire of the oxyhydrogen flame, it will be sold to finance the projects of an African mission in Kenya.
“A Flower for Meru” – this is the title of the action – as an implicit consequence will have the social commitment of the artist beyond the logic of the marketplace: the flowers are sectioned and therefore not for sale as works. And the sculpture of Giusti apparently so “alien” will reveal once more his vocation for opening himself to the world, changing the future concept of art in the prophetic analysis of the present.