Paolo Carosone

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Lorenza Trucchi

TEXTS > Writings on the Artist

After I had seen Paolo Carosone's latest works in his Rome studio one of those complex, mysterious assonances which rise up out of opposites caused me to re-read some pages of A soi-méme, the diary kept by Odilon Redon from 1897 to 1915. "My art is patterned on myself", said the symbolist painter. "All my originality lies in giving human life to improbable beings, according to the laws of probability. ". Redon had a biological imagination and was particularly interested in the phenomena of germination. He was a friend of the botanist Clavaud, and Pasteur, who admired him, said his creatures were "capable of living". The reading of Redon's diary confirms the obsession with organic growth which he applied, also, to things of the spirit. In spite of thematic and linguistic differences there is a slender subterranean vein between Redon and Carosone. Both of them see art as "equally universal and intimate" and constantly " question their memories; " both are interested in science and particularly entomology. But, while Redon's symbolism was always linked to nature, Carosone's is mental, conceptual, Redon develops prodigious phenomena nourished on the fertile humus of his extraordinary imagination, which often borders on dream; Carosone puts a frigid enthusiasm into his projection of prodigious beings, of which the absolute demiurge remains.
Carosone's neo-Symbolism, although joined by an umbilical cord to memories of childhood, takes on science-fiction cadences. We see a cold, ascetic world, inhabited by a race of human robots who have subjugated nature and subverted it to their own ends. A world ruled by the will for power and glory (natural selection has produced heroes), which has neutralized the terror of ecological catastrophe thanks to the domination of science and technology. But, watch out! "Science," as Merleau-Ponty writes in L'Oeil et l'esprít, "manipulated things and gives up living in them. Here we have the admirably active, ingenious, casual idea, the decision to treat any and every being like an object in general, that is, something which does not belong to us and yet is destined to our artifices. "
For an artist to move into science and technology means entering a reign of lucidly programmed experiment. It is natural, then, that in his plastic fantasies Carosone has adopted the bright, exact, anti-subjective language of neo-classicism. Even the epoxy resins which he uses recall with immaculate whiteness the cold whiteness of marble, favorite material of the neoclassic sculptors who are always so concerned with the tecnical and projectional components of their works, wanting them to be purified of anything arbitrary or humoral. Another affinity with the neo-Classic is the taste for didactic captions. The "animal tablets," obtained from patient, highly accurate casting, form a miniature "museum of unnatural history," while the assemblages, of marks, signals and strokes for a sort of written sculpture, which Carosone calls "technological hieroglyphs ".
Neo-Symbolist in content, neo-Classical in style and experimental in his techniques Carosone has shelved his past (his previous work was based largely on memory); he faces and neutralizes the nightmare of the future by projecting and programming it. His is an act of defiance and conquest, an antidote which transforms anxiety into a reassuring sense of power. In this subtle play between bitterness and irony even the fear of death fades out, leaving in its black trail a white tight of eternity, calmly spreading until there are no more shadows. Beside these Herobotics we have Carosone's sketch of his own cenotaph. The ashes, incorporated in the resin, will be both container and contained. In this symbolical monument to the perishing man and the imperishable artist, the agonizing dualism of being and non-being will be overcome.

(Traslation by Francis Lanza)
(Presentation in catalog of the show at Hamburg-Haus Eimsbüttel.Amburgo 1982.)


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