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Space To Experience: Sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Pomodoro Foundation

  • 10

    April 2009
  • 26

    June 2009
Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation, Milan  

On display is a selection of large works illustrating the artistic creativity of one of the most authoritative figures in the field of international contemporary sculpture.



From April 10 to June 26, the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation will host a solo exhibit featuring the work of Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz (born 1930). Her creations have been featured in the most important centers of contemporary art and have received various international awards. The upcoming show, curated by Angela Vettese, will retrace the artistic activities of Abakanowicz through 11 groups of large works realized in the last 20 years.


The selection of works on display is calculated to allow the peculiarities of her creations to emerge - sculptural groups and assemblages of multiple variants of a specific prototype. As simple objects in a special frame of reference, they define an artistic realm to be absorbed and appreciated by visitors. As the title of the show suggests, it is a Space to Experience.


According to Abakanowicz, the exhibition forms a comprehensive representation of her work - an installation built up from multiple techniques and intended as a tangible, spatial experience capable of inspiring authentic feelings of fear, astonishment, protectiveness and loneliness. To enter the exhibit and experience Abakanowicz's work directly enables one to integrate these sensations into paradigms of the human condition.


The sculptures on view at the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation display the artist's versatile use of materials to create soft and flexible structures, including her incorporation of woven fibers. For example, the "Abakans" series (1965-75) is composed of rounded surfaces woven by hand and makes use of ropes recovered from landfills on the banks of the Vistula River - a location referenced by the artist to exalt both spatial and symbolic qualities.


The metaphorical language of Abakanowicz's work is characterized, in her own words, by the notion of "unrepeatability even within quantity. A crowd of people or birds, insects or leaves, is a mysterious assemblage of variations on a prototype, a riddle posed by nature, which either abhors exact repetition or is simply unable to produce it, just as a human hand cannot duplicate its own gestures."


Purchased by the Tate Modern in London and on display at the Pomodoro Foundation will be Abakanowicz's complex piece "Embryology". It originally consisted of roughly 800 potato-shaped modules of various sizes composed of jute. However, two hundred of the pieces were lost during the Venice Biennale, having likely been removed by guests.


As Vettese, the curator, says of the piece, "The visitor enters into a sort of representation of an ovary, from which focal point they are put in touch with different stages of life. From an initial cocoon phase, this small enclosure presents entities that progress from an embryonic state to that of a fetus. We are confronted with transitions from one state to the next, in a manner that captures the apparent disorder of the cells in our body, evoking how easily the tissues of the body are torn or damaged. The embryo in this work is treated as a great theater of the being, although it also calls to mind... the places where the grain merchants bring their goods to market - a product at once so precious and vital and yet so completely vulnerable to rats and other disasters."


In this same vein, Abakanowicz remarked: "I turned myself into a component of the body, a cell without borders, just one element of the crowd, integrated with the others and deprived of speech. By destroying each other's identities, we regenerate ourselves. Through hatred and love, we build each other back up."


After 1985, Abakanowicz modified her approach and has achieved her artistic results by incorporating the use of many hard materials, including bronze, Corten steel, stainless steel, aluminum, wood and various types of resins.



(picture: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Abakan Red, 1969, courtesy Tate Modern, London)