Francesco Tadini – Luca Moretto: 1 – Human scale. What do we mean when we use the expression “on a human scale”? Are we not referring to some disproportion, some excess – generated by ourselves – that needs to be reduced to a size that does not make us feel ill at ease? Are we not perhaps talking about man’s ability to depersonalize himself and become a mere cog in the wheels of production, and so about reconsidering the choices that dehumanize even the habitats built by us?
And again, when we speak of the relationship between man and nature – or between nature and culture – are we not impelled to re-think a human scale very different to that which man’s work (after two industrial revolutions) has built to the detriment of the global ecosystem and its life-generating harmony?
2- 4.00pm on an ordinary day: encounter with scale.
Luca Moretto arrives at Spazio Tadini. He wants to show me what he does. I am struck by his face: he has an intelligent, lively gaze mixed with some kind of pain. He tells me his story, about phantom limb syndrome – the perception of sensations and pain in a limb long after it has been amputated. Unbearable, I think. I wonder how he can live with it. But I have the answer immediately – Luca is living proof of how we can get back up again in life with an iron will and art. He shows me his things. His work, half way between sculpture and painting. The material he uses for his creations, silicon. The fantastic colours and biomorphic volumes his hands have made possible. He uses an industrial material (although derived from a natural element, silica, the second most common element on Earth after oxygen) like liquid marble in the hands of a child Michelangelo. Do I find everything? Everything I’m looking for? Definitely art, certainly original, But perhaps, more than anything, scale. Human scale.
3 – Art creates an organism
Was not human scale exactly what Gaudí was looking for in those buildings of his similar to living organisms: a place to live in whose very shape – aesthetic – derives from the natural rules it is subject to? And was it not, generally, with Jugendstil, Art Nouveau and Liberty that resistance was made to the innate tendency of industrial rationalization to annul the fluidity of the natural form, too difficult to reproduce on a large scale in a process of endless replication for mass consumption?
Jugendstil represents the highest point of the “phytomorphic” trend in European Art Nouveau. Plants and flowers – floral style – served to produce the new. Life – the necessary multiplication of forms that evolve for reasons of survival – has prevailed over the too-restrictive modernity of the assembly line. The body did not fit into a too-short dress: out of scale.
4 – Play and reality.
Luca Moretto’s creations are very comfortable, warm dresses. And like the colours he chooses, they take me back in my memory. To when I was a child and drew with complete freedom: lines where the problem of depiction or abstractism did not arise. Like any child, I coloured Mum blue and Dad red. Or the other way round. And the proportions were not dictated by the reality of scale. Mum could grow disproportionately compared with Dad, and the houses were often smaller than “reality”. The colours of Luca Moretto’s Bugatti (a replica of the 1930 Bugatti B35) enhance the splendid infantilism of the gaze and unleash emotions absolutely on a human scale. The toy car so becomes bigger …. and more real than real. That is to say, exciting.
Perhaps if we had to define what an emotion is (the dictionary says “an interior process caused by an event-stimulus relevant for the interests of the individual”), we could say that it is something we feel when reality takes on the consistency of usefulness for the purpose of living better.
5 – Icons and modernity.
In art, icons have represented an absolute innovation: their symbolism and sacred tradition did not modify only the pictorial aspect, but drove the preparation, the material used and their collocation in particular places. The faces of saints in icons are called liki: it means out of time, transfigured. Also today when we speak of icon, we refer to a quality that transcends time; we give a person or an object additional qualities, we transfigure them to the benefit of the example, to use them. Luca Moretto’s materials – colours and silicon – are to objects of the present – the best designed vehicles and products – as Andy Warhol’s photographic prints are to Marilyn. Marilyn Monroe is the icon of femininity, we could say, in the way Luca Moretto’s reinventions of the Vespa Venice and Staygreen’s Marilyn lamp make them icons of modernity. It is no coincidence that Moretto’s Vespa is already in a museum, in the same way the Staygreen lamp created by the artist – inundating corrugated cardboard with coloured silicon – will feature at a Fuorisalone and, above all, an Expo 2015 whose central theme is sustainable development (food, first and foremost).
6 – Liquid Marble
Silicon seals, fixes, adheres and, above all, it is pleasant to the touch. Who would have said that companies such as Saratoga and Mungo would have been patrons of an artist? Because more than talking of sponsorization of an exhibition, in this case it should be told how the companies have subscribed to an artistic research programme. Passion for the works created by Luca Moretto came before the advantage of using their nature simply for advertising purposes. Silicon – the material which the biggest creations of contemporary architecture use in abundance and without which it would be impossible to even to imagine them – becomes beautiful with Moretto’s work: synonymous of lightness and the desire to challenge time and the transience of life. “…the true inspiration is nothing less than pain. My works are my desire to run, laugh, play, ride a motorbike, walk…” writes the artist himself. “Silicon is a very strong, resistant material, and even if it is touched a thousand times, it is not damaged, like the human body.” We could think of silicon as the marble of the third millennium.
7- See and touch: “human scale.2”
Pop Art made us fall in love with advertising and the brands of the consumer society. It reproduced them endlessly in a kaleidoscope effect where art, beauty and money walked side by side for a long time. “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art” said Andy Warhol. They were the years when ‘brandbuilding’ united the pursuit of success by a human race in reconstruction after two world wars. Today, we have new demands and fall in love with products that meet these demands. If would be difficult to flirt with Campbell’s soups, synonymous with fast food, in the same way Warhol did. The bright, pure colours of Luca Moretto’s works may recall Pop Art, but the substance of his choices are as far as it gets from celebration of the “human scale” of an economy that has by now passed its peak. And the artist’s alliances with companies linked to architecture and design seem to us fundamental in defining an artistic horizon close to the dream of “total art” of which the Bauhaus was the instigator. The objects as redesigned by Moretto acquire uniqueness; they are not made to be multiplied. They become icons of a new pact.
Totem of the exhibition at Spazio Tadini is Marilyn, the result of rigorous research and alliance with the rules of humanism respectful of nature. With Moretto’s intervention, the big Staygreen lamp – almost 3 metres tall and made with eco-sustainable materials such as sheets of corrugated cardboard and natural pea starch glues– becomes a monument/document of a 2015 proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Light. Marilyn represents the pact between material culture and art, between energy-saving technology and the synthetic energy of an artist able to embody the spirit of the present with his colours/material. If we are living the moment hanging in the balance between the abyss of the past and the future peaks, we can let ourselves be incited – joyously – by Luca Moretto’s works to grasp a new human scale.
At the exhibition it will be “prohibited not to touch” the works..