Pioltello, July 1st, 2011: I think this is the perfect day to describe in my first post. Why Pioltello? As the site of Marni’s warehouse/creative lab, we frequently organize special events there and this time we decided to invite the young street artist Tellas. We arrived in Pioltello in the early morning and Tellas began work on one of his murals with each stage of its progress being caught on camera… The border to his design is the perimeter of the wall and the only other element to be considered was the green foliage of the two trees. I liked and was impressed by the fact that Tellas chose that particular wall for its contrast between the gray of the concrete and the color of the leaves, a contrast between the strength of nature and the strength of man. Tellas painted from morning till night, in the sun and wind… and the result was striking. Tellas’ brushstroke is sharp and well-defined and shapes are constantly repeated. That is the heart of his style; essential and poetic, in which nature and the city merge and are transformed… I wonder, will Tellas’ mural stay on this wall… forever?! When I saw his work and spoke to the artist about his love for trees which began in his childhood and his passion for nests as perfectly shaped and unique, I immediately thought of the works of the American sculptor Patrick Dougherty (www.stickwork.net). The nest structure is present in Patrick’s sculptures in fantastical, imaginary and somewhat surreal forms that recall faraway, past or perhaps even future worlds… his installations rise up like immense natural cathedrals in open countryside or urban landscapes. A bit like the monsters’ forts in the film by Spike Jonze.
Subjects studied at high school, which at the time seem very boring, often only become clear later on. Pascolian symbolism of the “nest-home”, for example, is an extremely fascinating theme, that, when I was at high school I perhaps did not appreciate as much as I could have… Artists like Tellas, Patrick Dougherty and Merz reminded me and helped me see it in another light. When I consider the “nest-home” association, I think of one of the masters of Arte Povera, Mario Merz, who took his inspiration from a basic form of human habitation, the igloo, reproducing and reworking it over the years. Traditional and primary shapes are at the basis of the creation of Merz’s igloo-installations, works that impose themselves in spaces and transform them. A modern and surreal view of the nest where inside and outside are ever closer; it fascinates me.
I have ‘found’ another ‘nest’; this time a real stork’s nest on a treetop, in a beautiful black-and-white photo by Andres Lutz (1968) and Andres Guggisberg (1966). The artists Lutz and Guggisberg have been collaborating for around ten years; they live in Zurich and painstakingly document reality through objects, sculptures, constructions, drawings, installations, paintings and videos. Seasoning it all with a little humor and creative madness. Good job!
An association: nest=hemisphere=sphere=the metal structure that Matteo Thun created inside his installation “The Wooden Beacons” for the 2010 Salone del Mobile, in collaboration with Marni. In the photo I posted you can only see the base structure of Thun’s work, stripped of its colored elements. It reminds me greatly Tellas’ sheaves, another of his recurring themes.
So, at this point, I would like to make another association: sphere=Tellas’ sheaves=Lebanese artist Mona Hatoum’s installation “Recollection”. In an empty room, there are hairballs strewn across the floor, a small fabric frame attached to a table and little more. All of Hatoum’s works are made with her own hair, patiently collected over the space of six years. Mona Hatoum’s small spheres, as well as Tellas’s reappearing sheaves, remind me greatly of the false rose of Jericho, a plant found in the desert of Central America which, during dry periods, curls into a ball and, when carried by the wind to sources of water, like magic, turns green again, reopens and comes back to life. Even after several years.
My circle of associations concludes with the Marni shopping bag (as seen in the video) designed by Tellas, which, when closed, very much resembles one of the spheres or sheaves of his works. But then, it opens… somewhat like the false Rose of Jericho.