If you happen to be in San Gimignano, you can still catch an installation/exhibition by British sculptor, Antony Gormley: Vessel at the Galleria Continua and throughout the town center. The works represented here explore the relationship between the body, the passage of time, and the environment or space both inhabit within urban and architectural contexts.
The first work that pulls you into the gallery is an airy cloud-like mass floating in the room and using the bubble-matrix principle. A usually temporary, fleeting, and light-weight structure, Drift I (2007-2012) is stabilized by its construction in 3mm square stainless steel bar. For me, this sculpture also resembles a gem in its structural form and reflective sparkle.
Another solidification of matter is seen in Sum (2012), solid cast iron polyhedral forms creating an exploded figure laying on the floor which seems to intentionally and perfectly compliment the pieces (or pieces, in this case) in the form and color of the tiles.
The star of the show is an enormous steel structure called Vessel (2012) which has been installed in the gallery’s largest space in this former theater-cinema. Coming upon the installation, which breaks through the wood flooring under its sheer weight, one can’t help but wonder how they got that thing in there, let along transport the parts through the small Medieval streets of San Gimignano!
Backing far enough away from the piece, the form, which is made of a series of box containers, is revealed to be a figure — an architectural structure of parts, vessels that form a body, that make a man into architecture with rooms, which is in turn presented in a seemingly haphazard way inside architecture that was made for the scale of man. Here the spatial definitions and purposes are blurred and unstable.
Additional works in the exhibition include more linear structures that relate again to the form of the body and space. Others are more solid building-block figures weighed down by gravity and restricted by their architectural context. The gallery has the perfect labyrinthine zone for discovering these constructed characters in various poses.
More organic and realistic figures are cantilevered from the walls in other otherwise empty rooms causing the viewer to question his or her position within the space. The precarious and unexpected positions of the figures creates an unstable architectural environment which could be tilting around as if without gravity. These are the same to-scale figures which are installed throughout the center of town sometimes confronting or surprising the public in their motionless state, suggesting we question our own position within space and time.
ANTONY GORMLEY: Vessel
Through September 15, 2012
Via del Castello 11
San Gimignano, ITALY
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 2 – 7 pm