Everything seems to be made of bronze in the works of Paolo Menon and it’s only by touch that you can say if it’s simulated or authentic metal.
In a little bronze sculpture, Ampelo, the young loved one of Dionysis, unfortunately killed while picking grapes from a vine climbing on a tree given as a present from god, he transformed into the vine, and that’s all that remained of him: one of the other versions of the legend says, instead, of his transformation into a constellation. The theme of the myths tied to Dionysis appear in other works. These little notations introduce us to some features of the work of the artist of which we have mentioned the ekphraris: the object used doesn’t correspond anymore to its function, or the material is not what it seems or the legend doesn’t have a more poetic end, or all of these things together. The simulation of bronze that Menon uses with expertise in his artistic representation, has it a different feeling from the true one? And the result is different? Why the persistence of the myth?
There seem to be then the semantic shifts, a lateral view, the repetition of themes and the use of the same material as bronze, bisque porcelain, terracotta and composite materials.
Paolo Menon didn’t want to do cultural archaeology, he feels the need of a variation hence its repetition is different: the myth is reprised not as a magical explanation of the drive of the rapture, but as a homage of the goodness of the drive, to his perseverance, desire of liberation of the too tight strings of the system of psychical self control. And behind there is the good humour of the tables, the literature of wine, the sommelier, the wine trade, and a lot of other things.
The language is not solemn but ironic, sometimes winking as it must be a rehash of outdated beliefs about the universe that no longer belong to our civilization, or perhaps not, if they remain hidden in our subconscious, like deep psychology has theorized.
Menon skillfully uses the techniques of bronze artifacts including gold and also produces works that mimic the league. Or as the author says that recall “the patina of contemporary virtual reality”, an oxymoron that is good today. This practice also can be a metaphor that overlaps the mythic themes or, more simply that questions the true, false and true. A small drift, this is the current granite certainties of a time when things were divided into subject and object, near and far, and I the other, God and nature.
The material in the sculpture is not indifferent, leaves constitution of its historical legacy. Today we are no longer safe relay and the rational and that the ego and master in his own house. The ironic, transverse, dissembling the sculptor has taken the place of the virtues of the monumental geometric Alberti recommended to the artist. Contemporary sculpture among the arts and the most linked to the history, the rise and the crisis of Western thought. It suffers the crumbling of the relationship with the material that a special time, the question of the boundary line with the physical work environment, we realize that it is not clear at the thought that writing and not as painting. It is crossed by the suggestion of the past, like the rest of the way in which people whirling fragments of truth and taste.
The question of the substance used by the artists, is interwoven with that of classical imitation. The style is accompanied throughout its history from the debate on the possibility to represent the reality and now that the concept of objective reality and in crisis, the art, which operates in this ontological uncertainty, which cannot be partial, eclectic, contradictory, ironic, perhaps full of puns and misunderstandings: if humanity is not consistent with itself and the reason is not master in his own house, the imagination has its rights of inconsistency.
If the reality is not the thing itself, the truth will express what I experience, and not being arbitrary, is the relationship that emerges here and now.
This applies to all and goes mostly unnoticed: indeed the common way of thinking continues to be something of granite, the real “out there” (H. Putnam) as opposed to the soul that is inside each of us.
For the artist who does not accept the dualism and the continuous relativism warns the dialogue between itself and the world, makes the problem still the classical dualism of matter and representation. And it must speak for metaphors and symbols and create something unreal that does not exist. The writer that uses writing that is half absolutely transparent to the meaning, the artist strives to make an idea on a sensory, but the sculptor has to do it with an object in space. The material he uses is not “transparent” and is matter itself. And if the issue is controversial and the truth that emerges is that it is possible and not absolute, it might as well be a simulated bronze, made with composite materials, speckled with the funds, which replaces the monochrome and colour and that discarded objects find a new use. Last but not least a small consequence when it seems doubtful that the nature of the material used to see, the optician has always been privileged, to accompany you to the touch, the hepatic (at least as should the visitor).
The materials used, the forms, become contradictory signs that bewilder those who treat them gently in their substance and not stop the rhythm of the composition, proportions, the branches, the clusters, to bottles, to the characters or the enigmatic gaze of some of his figures.
Paolo Menon reinventing some bronze figures of myth, or a subject with colours which imitate, creates a short circuit, but does not want to be an antique in its own way to deliver what is, what he believes is still alive, looking with ironic eye at this archive in the world: the paradox and that the store, which by definition should be immutable, and each time starting from the present and redefined by each work.
Text by Umberto Gavinelli, Art critic (Tranlation by Paul Jannece).
The catalog: http://issuu.com/lamontina/docs/oinodes
The forms of drinking and other «who feel of wine», inspired by Greek mythology, eros, religion and politics.
Museo d’Arte contemporanea Remo Bianco in Franciacorta
Salone delle Esposizioni d’Arte temporanee
Monticelli Brusati (Brescia) Italy
From november 12th 2010 to february 27th 2011