Paolo Levi

From “Open 10” Venice – Fuori Biennale 2008

It would be much more easier to dedicate a cover in the Catalogue of the Italian Sculptors to a “non-living” artist or with a length of service it has already been written and said everything about. And it would not be appropriate the choice of an emerging artist, supported only by an effective media battage , whose fame could waste away in a short time. Gianfranco Meggiato and me wanted to open a new line, choosing a well known artist on a critical level, for the indisputable nature of his research. This Venetian artist possesses sound cultural roots which sink in the plastic, abstract and informal tradition, and he is not a simple imitator, he wants to show his creative independence that does not aim to cause wonder, but his aim is to explain and sing the “non-visible” from a poetic viewpoint.

Your work is strongly implied to the great effort of digging, understanding and revealing the “unknown”.

An artist is supposed to have something to say, otherwise he creates only some sort of shapes, certainly nice, but in short, they are just handicrafts and unnatural; the meaning of making a work of art is to unite the technical side to the conceptual one. We are supposed to go back to the spirit of the Sixthteenth century, when there were pathos and technique in the sculptures. During this historical moment we have to be brave enough to go up stream and go back to the origins; it’s important to find inside ourselves the strength for expressing messages of positivity and hope for mankind. I do believe that it is possible and proper to chart a sort of walk of life as growth form, even if this involves some sufferings, but an artist is supposed to be the bishop who marks the stage of that path.

When can you date your very first works of art and how did you start?

My very first exhibition was in 1979, I was very young. The exhibition was set up at the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation and I showed a stone sunbreak panel. I was particularly focused on the relation of external and internal, filled spaces and empty spaces, light and shadow. Since my beginnings, I have always believed to see the secret key of man’s felicity in the balances of the conflicts, logically speaking of compensation among the opposites. The key is being able to accept our own contradictions, being able to mediate them in a creative unicum in order to feel good with ourselves. The so-called imbalance takes to instability but above all it takes to the search for equilibrium.

Talking about your plastic research, can you accept the definition in the abstract sculpture just as the expression of a spiritual tension that leads to the “non-form”?

Certainly yes. As I explained before, the artist is supposed to have something to say and the spiritual aspect determines the way of making art. You can feel a sort of tension in my works of art, you can feel the idea of looking for a finishing line, you can feel drama but not negativity. I do believe that pain, as I try to represent it in my works of art, is a stage in that walk of life as growth form.

Let’s talk about the symbology of your plastic bodies. In your works of art we can see a geometric shape such as a sphere, a cube, a parallelepiped and a pyramid. Are these instinctive choices or are just motivated by the reason?

Both. The cube , as geometrical shape , does not exist in nature; I chosed it on purpose just because it represents the rational shape par excellence. I can feel it as a sort of box with all those conditionings where a man locks himself in.; but where the box is corroded and broken, well, just there you can feel its own self-determination and its own tension upward the freedom concept. While the pyramid is the symbol of the research for the transcendent. The shape of my pyramids has a sort of dimension that I would define almost gothic, its base is very stricted while its sides are very long just because according to me, tension boasts upward and takes shape just in this way. The sphere is the symbol of perfection and spirituality and it’s the geometrical shape that has inspired me more than one creative solutions: blocked and corrupted it shows either the perfectible and incompleteness of mankind. In certain ways , in my works of art such as “Sphere to Sphere”, you can see the perfection in a second sphere, which is inside the other sphere. It’s not always like that though. If you can see that an internal sphere is missing it is just because man is not always able to find his own essence. Now I’m focused on more open shapes, less stilled to the pure geometrical shape. Either in “Cono” and in “Colonna-energia” is impressed a rotating movement, a strong upward push, towards God.

Let’s talk now about the so called “filled spaces” and “empty spaces” in your works of art. What is the meaning for you?

The “empty space” is part of the “filled space”; the energy wraps up the whole man’s body and is full of spiritual energy. This kind of energy that winds round us, I do want to let it enter my works of art in order to let it live, breath and throb.

Let’s say that your informal and abstract research it is not a sort of escape from man but it is the narration for man, of man and in man, in the invisible parts that only an artist is able to decode , even at the cost of giving up the visible reality. It’s another kind of reality , that you want to take it to the level of the plastic research.

The abstract shape gives freedom because is not conditioned by the outward shape. In this way you can freely go to the “non-visible” and to the depth of the spirit. According to me the only figurative sculptures that attract me are the “Prigioni” of Michelangelo.

When you talk to me about Michelangelo it comes to my mind your private museum , the Renaissance. So you don’t recognize yourself in the twentieth-century’s plastic art?

Let’s say that during the Renaissance man was in the middle of space and the confidence in its capacity was very important. In the contemporaneous culpture all that is not present. I do want still believe that man, changing himself, can change the world.