Life is what we make it …
What we see is not what we see, but what we are …
[Ferdinando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet]
I just cannot take my eyes off that red square. Its concave lightness reaching out to the caress of light; its discreet but absolute presence in the room enveloped by the semi-darkness of a rainy day, among ancient paintings that, on the same wall, look like rectangles of almost black paint.
Why did Giuliano Dal Molin want to display his works, creating a temporary path of installations in the Convent of the Capuchins in Schio? Two forces definitely guided him: one personal and affective: the desire to pay homage to this community at a given time of its history and of our history. The other linked to his work, to the opportunity of entering into a relationship with a place very different from normal exhibition spaces, neutral and white, a place filled with spirituality and memory, where the signs of devotion and of the life of a Franciscan community, which has always offered and continues to offer hospitality and charity to all, have settled over the centuries and vicissitudes.
He entered on tiptoe, amidst the busy but attentive, alert and kind comings and goings of the Fathers and of the guests; he arranged his works in such a way as to establish a discreet and silent dialogue between the spaces of his presences – the rooms of the Convent. By entering those rooms, we become enthralled in a new perceptive dimension, solicited to grasp nuances of light and of meanings: an unexpected yet rich and coherent spiritual dimension, where forms become places.
To get to this experience, Dal Molin developed a path whose roots lie at the very origins of Italian art, in the clear volumes of the geometries of Giotto and of Piero della Francesca. He began in the 1980s, when, in his early twenties, he embarked on his artistic work in a field of research that we define, by tradition, Abstract: shapes, colours, lines, surfaces and volumes are the basic elements through which thought is developed and expressed, without conceding anything to complacent illusions or to the habits of perception. The most radical ancestors of this research, which denies the idea of art as an imitation of reality to construct a new idea of painting as a device in action and presence in reality, are European artists such as Piet Mondrian, Kasimir Malevich or Josef Albers. Then, between the late 1950s and the early 1960s, the minimalist Americans arrived on the scene, such as Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Frank Stella…
However, constant leanings towards study and research led Dal Molin to rigorous experimentations and changes, apparently minimal, but actually substantial, allowing him to develop his own personal vision, perfecting, at the same time, his impeccable executive technique. This was all based on an awareness of action that is always awareness of the concrete.
His point of arrival is a space-landscape, meaning a portion of space delimited by the view. The composition continues on the basis of intuition, from a willingness to accept the suggestions that come from working with the same form, and it is never pre-determined. In his work, he identifies the limit as potential; he uses only elements that, together with colour-light, possess constant coherence as they are internal and essential universal principles of organisation of the landscape. They are opposite yet complementary, curved rhythmic pulsation, height and depth, vertical and horizontal. The combinations create open, potentially infinite, restless dynamics.
He must find, each time, quality as an unstable measure, beauty as experience and awareness, as the “culture of the gaze”. The theme of space becomes for Dal Molin an obsessive need to “bridge a gap, to create a space of the spirit”.
“He … gives, through action, to the module which he conceives as an infinitesimal but universal space, a great capacity to recreate through the Senses unique and very personal spaces depending on the observer”.
By following the itinerary identified on the map and prepared by the artist, we encounter twenty-one stops – stations created for us to stand in contemplation, reflecting and recollecting, silently letting the sense of beauty emerge“… Sola Beatitudo”.
The starting point is outside the convent, in front of the door of seclusion. A very white shape, two asymmetrical concavities juxtaposed with the memento mori, a light, volatile, soaring, suspended, delicate and luminous presence against the dark heaviness of the skull and the monition that accompanies it. Over the threshold, the itinerary leads us up to the cells, and then, passing through the narrow corridors, to the slightly larger spaces of the refectory and the cloister, followed by the oratory, the corridor of confessionals, the chapel of the Rosary and finally the presbytery next to the Altarpiece by Alessandro Maganza. Here, three lines-shapes, three colours – anthracite, light grey, green – and four open and opposite directions at right angles are correlated with the majestic Mannerist composition, bringing it to life without disturbing it, entering into spiritual resonance with its dark colours.
The nature of each environment is transformed by new spatial and chromatic relationships. The succession of locations reveals tonal arrangements and variations on the theme of light and shadow, animated by tensions, thrusts and counter-thrusts, directions of forces that do not compel the gaze to recognise something, but place it in a position to react and interact with subtle and deep emotions.
By involuntary association, the atmosphere of the background of the painting Las Meninas by Velàzquez, his paintings in the painting, the shades of darkness revealed by the light, evoked only by the combinations of greys, slowly emerges from my memory.
The history of the Capuchin Convent of Schio has been told in: I Capuccini di Schio, historical notes written by the Capuchin Cultural Circle, 1998, Grafiche Marcolin-Schio; it is worthy of being further investigated, also in view of the recent developments that see its imminent closure, already threatened, but then averted, in 1998.
Giuliano Dal Molin has already exhibited in 2006 in a religious space, the Oratorio della Disciplina di Rovato – Brescia. “In a cultural context dominated by dissipation and virtual reality, we now offer to the population of Rovato a real location in which they can stop for a moment to listen, reflect and contemplate.” The words of Mons. Gian Mario Chiari, Provost of Rovato, on the reopening of the Oratory after years of abandonment.
LA MISURA DEL FARE – Texts by G.M. Accame – A. Zanchetta – 2005 – LAC Brescia – “Dal Molin demonstrates the same aptitude as the ancient mediaeval “maestros” in relation to the work of art. His way of approaching his work is fully immersed in a culture that does not separate theory from practice, but sees it as two sides of the same coin”. “The qualities of technical execution and the materials used are profoundly linked to the skill of a handcrafted process, where the hand is rarely only executive, always being moved by a thought with the potential to change and alter the work at any time. Expressiveness, the footprint of an idea linked to an emotion, is always present in every work.” http://www.undo.net/it/mostra/38853
F. Jullien – La grande immagine non ha forma – edited by Marcello Ghilardi, 2004, Angelo Colla ed., pag.165
Giuliano Dal Molin – 2 PIANI -Text by C. Seganfreddo – 2004- 503 Mulino -Vicenza
DISTINZIONI – Text by L. M. Barbero – 1992 – Bevilacqua La Masa – Venice
The altarpiece dated 1607 (restored in 1993), five years after the consecration of the new church whose construction had begun in 1597, presents San Nicola (Nicolò for the Venetians) of Bari, to whom the church is dedicated, with Lorenzo da Brindisi (at the time of the Maganza Rector in Veneto of the Order of the Capuchin Friars Minor, named a saint by Leo XIII in 1881 and numbered among the Doctors of the Church), San Francesco, Santa Chiara and Santa Caterina d’Alessandria.