*Foto in evidenza: Installation Kuppelbei Nacht, GuidoNosari, 2015© Foto Anna Fischer
In April last year, after more than a year of pandemic that had deeply affected the city, on the facade of the Teatro Nuovo in Bergamo, Guido Nosari De Danieli set up “Solitary Clouds”, eleven textile works that ideally embraced the city through one of his symbols.In that embrace, which was a metaphor for a process of suturing the many wounds, of mending broken ties, of returning to a normalcy that would have been slow and progressive, was also enclosed the sense of making art by Nosari which he insist, among other things, that art is always a free gift.
Born in Bergamo, Nosari lives and works in Bergamo, Milan and Berlin. Winner of numerous awards, he has participated in international artist residencies; among his most significant exhibitions: the installation at the Museum of Jewish Culture in Berlin, the ten-year award of the Modena Photography Foundation, the personal exhibition at the Shang Yuan Museum of Modern Art in Beijing, the installation Mundus Patet for the thirtieth anniversary of Miniartextil.
He tells us about his thought, his research and his artistic practice in this interview.
A successful artistic journey through painting and then, suddenly, the discovery of Fiber Art. How and why this choice?
A story from a novel, but a staid novel. I painted for years, then one night I burned all my life’s work. Not in a metaphorical sense: I began to cut it into many small pieces, all the canvases and papers made in years of work and I burned them. I didn’t have time to watch them burn because there were too many. Then in the morning I went to bed and stayed under the covers for two days. I partly wanted to thread lightly, destroy the weights I was dragging myself, partly I no longer believed in the representation.
Staying naked under the covers all that time made me recount who and what was left. I was not the one left, since I had tried to annihilate myself, there were no profound concepts and not even the great distances and principles, which were unattainable. The inside and the outside had emptied and only the tactile surface that separated them remained.
There remained the need to cover up because it was cold, to conceive the dress as a surface between inner and outer absence.
I completely stopped painting for years and started sewing, identifying myself with the only proof of my absence, intertwining the concepts of dress and leather.
Now I have made peace with painting, and I use it mostly for what it is: representation. While in my fiber works I try to create absences, in the paintings I depict the clothes and fabrics discarded by the bodies as the only places that can tell a story without becoming one.
What are the key themes of your artistic research?
The void occupies the central place in my research, in every sense. The doily, for example, is created with a centripetal movement that arises from a first knot on nothing, from the acceptance of an empty space as the basis of a structure.
In this sense, every phenomenon is a surface and a skin. The germinal point precedes the moment of appearance. Everything becomes the shell of the void seen from the outside. We ourselves live in the strange condition of awareness of the limit. We can examine and deepen ourselves, and what we find are layers, levels, skins to be discarded gradually to find others below. Lower and lower, until we find the other in us and we are forced to start over. A nice riddle!
From the void the various passions present in my research are born: clothes, symbols, skin, needle, disinterested narration, detachment, closeness, all elements that accept to be medians, bearers of a surrender towards the truth.
In recent times your artistic practice has been oriented towards site specific installations and large works. What is the relationship between you, your works and the space in which they fit? How does your art intervene in the environment in which it is set up?
The hope is always to make the space bigger than it is. When I first see a place where I am asked to operate, I simply stop and stop thinking. I try to unite with the surfaces, to disappear. Each space contains the possibility of becoming something else, and I try to express that potential rather than give it a new aspect. I think I am repetitive in saying that every space is inhabited primarily by emptiness, which makes change possible. Just looking at places as a consequence and potential together makes them habitable.
Last year on the facade of the historic Teatro Nuovo in Bergamo you created a large installation that dealt with the theme of the ‘suturing’ of the wounds – including social and psychological – generated by the pandemic.
Is art cathartic, I dare say almost therapeutic, in your opinion? What was the genesis of that intervention?
Let’s start with the therapeutic art. No. Art is not therapeutic in itself. Seeing new things, dealing with colors, trying new experiences and expressiveness, these are therapeutic things and often it is art that can offer them, like other fields. Art can be used for therapeutic purposes, but precisely because it cannot be bound or described by catharsis.
My intervention on the facade of the Teatro Nuovo in Bergamo was first of all a personal necessity. It was in full pandemic, in the red zone, nothing could be done and the city had become an epicenter, even a symbolic one. This being the center of the tragedy, and the building of the Teatro Nuovo center in the center, led me to consider its limits, to try to stop the descent into the tragic.
At the bottom of the bottom there was no other tragedy, but normality was beginning again. I considered my fabrics as the skin of the tragic phenomenon, the one that at the same time stages it and limits it. In this sense, yes, I wanted to suture the wounds, but not of people or of society, I am not capable of it, but of a phenomenon so that it would stop coming out of itself and be definable.
Your recent installation presented at Miniartextil and Montrouge is structured on a huge crochet doily with a net effect where the balance between full and empty is the key to the entire work. Still the emptiness, and the meaning it assumes in your works …
The only possibility of something appearing is a premise emptiness. This is why textiles and their tools are so close to me. Let’s think of a needle. When the needle pierces a surface it is looking for that void to let it pass. It does not look for the fabric, which would stop him, but for its absence, the ‘in-between’ spaces. Let’s think of a thread that sews and joins two fabrics. Carried by the needle, the thread travels a path marked by the void. To unite the fabrics is that path that in appearing becomes testimony and consequence of a journey previously potential and inhabited by emptiness. What is then the knot, on which an entire doily is based, if not to pretend to block some air in a point which, subsequently, is taken as a base and starting point.
But that knot is not the starting point, it is an absence imprisoned in it that gives us the possibility to define it. The doily then, in my research, becomes monumental because it is paroxysmal from the very beginning.
Textiles teaches me that only by accepting emptiness will you attract matter.
How do you choose the materials for your works? Which techniques do you use most? For larger installations, do you work in a team or do you do all the work alone?
All absolutely alone. When I seriously start working on a project I know I have to get out of bed and start weaving. The hours pass and suddenly it is evening. One day I might even decide to delegate, but for now I don’t feel like sharing my skin with anyone.
I choose the materials for their tactile and symbolic presence. But I know that such an answer means nothing. The truth is, I spend hours touching and looking at fabrics and threads, until I find one that I know is the right one. It’s a bit like seeing magnetized iron dust: a random stirring of chaos suddenly pointing in a direction. The technique is only a consequence of the material.
Which are the artists (and not) that have influenced your training and your research?
The egg by Piero della Francesca, ‘Visit to Godenholm’ by Ernst Jünger, the hands of my grandmother and the eyes of my family, 8 and 1/2 and the Gospel according to Matthew by Pasolini, the Pirates of Lego and Louise Bourgeois, Munch’s and Freddie Mercury’s mustache. Everything is so interpenetrated.
What are you working on right now?
I’m studying a series on the link between material and symbol. The next crochet works will see in the materials and shapes an explicit revival of rituals and symbols that the rabbinic tradition explains only as functional to the recognition of a divinity, free from any social function. In this sense, matter turns on itself to accept the condition of an orphan.