NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Frist Art Museum presents Italian artist Claudio Parmiggiani’s first North American museum exhibition, “Claudio Parmiggiani: Dematerialization,” Feb. 2-May 5 in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery. Organized by Frist Art Museum executive director Susan H. Edwards, the exhibition features a selection of 15 two- and three-dimensional works that address the passage of time, mortality, absence, memory and silence.
More than 40 years ago, Parmiggiani developed his signature process, delocazione (displacement), when he was first inspired by how contours are left in dust after objects are removed. The process creates negative shadows of forms and shapes, similar to those in photograms, cyanotypes, or batik prints. Instead of using photosensitive materials to achieve this effect, Parmiggiani harnesses fire and combustion in a controlled environment and allows soot, dust, and pigment to settle on objects such as bottles, books, butterflies, musical instruments, or shells. When objects are removed, indexical signs similar to a footprint or a photograph are left on the backgrounds—walls, boards, or canvases—showing what was previously there.
Parmiggiani was born in 1943 in Luzzara, Italy, a commune on the banks of the Po River in the region of Emilia-Romagna. As a teen, he saw his family home, where he made early drawings, engulfed in flames and destroyed by fire. Later, he would use the destructive power of fire as a creative tool. He attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Modena 1959-1961. During that time, he became a regular visitor to the studio of Giorgio Morandi, whose incomparable mastery of light and focus on humble subjects made a lasting impression, which is evidenced in a major installation at the Frist where delocazione bottles on shelves fill an entire wall. Marcel Duchamp and Piero Manzoni are also often cited as influences. Although Parmiggiani is associated with the Arte Povera movement and conceptualism of the 1960s and 1970s, he works somewhere in between.
The artist is also interested in the growth patterns found in nature articulated through the Fibonacci sequence and associated with classical ratios found in architecture and music, an example being his delocazione of a nautilus shell (Untitled, 2014) with its empty chambers rhythmically configured. For decades, he has incorporated butterflies into his art, and this exhibition includes four such works.
For more information, visit www.fristartmuseum.org.
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