As in a journey, there are stages. As when following a path, we move towards a goal. The traveler soon realizes he will not find “true refuge issueless”2. And that all dreams vanish into thin air. Every crossroads is a new beginning. Siempre mañana y nunca mañanamos3.
Where the horizon dwells, there is a line that continually escapes those who seek to reach it. What cannot be defined becomes a metaphor: a place of dreams. To embrace, or just represent, that fictitious superposition, it is necessary to keep a distance. We travel through this void, a hollow separation, with our comings and goings. In this hustle and bustle we become a ruined landscape, in constant transformation.
On the journey toward what cannot be said, we discover remains: subtle papers, shredded canvases, glued pieces of cardboard, tattooed skins and old wood. Veils, like layers of paint, that slightly overlap to describe a place where unity and its fragments coexist, where affirmation enters into crisis and precariousness becomes strength. Here is where the mute signs weave a story, where spectator and landscape overlap. Subtle strata, veils of pigment seek, little by little, step by step, to tie the sky to the earth, action to contemplation.
It is another metaphor, another dream in ruins. And yet, venturing forth is worth every effort, even if it means failing in the attempt; any goal that lies on the other side, once the bland certainty of the shore is abandoned, compensates the effort. A passable path made of paint, a tactile fiction that feeds on earth and air, brings closer what never overlaps even though it seems to touch. The first individual exhibition in Piramidón by Marco Noris (Bergamo, Italy, 1971) guides us towards this metaphorical place, impossible to put into words, situated between ruins and the void.
“The condition of the metaphor’s exile, in a world determined by disciplined experience, is tangible in the discomfort caused by whatever does not correspond to the standard of a language that tends to objective uniqueness. It is then qualified in the opposite tendency as aesthetic: this attribute grants the definitive, and therefore totally disinhibiting license of ambiguity”4, states Hans Blumenberg in respect to metaphor.
Noris’ recent works are presented to us as fossils that guide us through a ruined horizon. They are piled up skins, successive layers and contiguous environments. A deep stillness emerges from these series; we sense in the ruins a hope we no longer thought possible.
The polished, reflecting surfaces of the contemporary world aspire to maximum transparency. The most worrying characteristic of this highly praised transparency (in politics, in society and also in art) is the absence of ambiguity. Fortunately, Marco Noris’ painting challenges all transparency, it articulates an endless ambiguity, it is a fossil that hides its origin. This exhibition is an escape in time, and we return from it with the desire to tear down the present. Because everything is precarious.
In order to limit the distance between the surface and the core (cf. the essence of things), Marco Noris proposes in this project a personal archaeology, a work of revision, an almost ecological process, which recovers what has come before to subject it to continuous transformations. He accumulates, organizes, ties up his works and uses them as a material for other proposals. Canvases, papers and pieces of cardboard support the soil and experience found along the way; these are then used to map out the future, like skins carrying indelible memories of an unattainable goal. Noris’ is a personal archaeology that speaks of a shared horizon.
The refuge longed for by everyone during their journey, once reached, is de-materialized, falls to pieces. And the journey begins again, towards another horizon (always the same, never exactly the same). The moss covers the ruin and a new landscape sprouts. I didn’t want to, but this text leads me to it. It may be because it is also being written among the rubble of a sick world that is continuing on its stubborn course, without changing its poisonous and polluting habits. I was saying, I did not want to include a quote from Goethe because I do not believe that the sublime has a place in what surrounds us, that was another dream. I also wanted to avoid dichotomies, dualities, oppositions, black and white, good and bad, in order to flee from the colonialist and predatory vision of the West, from the origin…
Still, it may be worthwhile to pause with our eyes fixed on a metaphorical horizon and listen again to what Goethe wrote at the time. According to the German poet, the human being leads a double life, one concrete and the other abstract. In the first “he is abandoned to all the storms of reality, to the influence of the present: he has to fight, suffer, die like an animal”. But in the other, he is separated from “everything that possesses him and agitates him”; from this distance “he is a mere spectator and observer”5. One could say it is, once more, the well-trodden dualism between an active and contemplative life. However, it is pertinent to raise it now, after months of confinement, as I try to thread the works and tone of Marco Noris’ exhibition project. The figurative, the abstract, the fragment, the unity, the ruin, the monumental, the earth and the sky…
His cardboards, canvases, papers claim a distance from the hustle and bustle of daily life. In these dark times of blind action, fall who may, his proposal yearns to make us pause so we may glimpse a common horizon. If in the first room on the left, a dark and almost gloomy place, we find the artist’s giaciglio [bed], a fusion of art and life, precariousness and strength, at the back of the main room, a corrugated sheet of cardboard painted a luminous light blue, accompanies us towards a possible change, towards something better than a cure: a solution. Is a new horizon the solution? In 1967, militant and full of hope, Germano Celant wrote, in his notes for a guerrilla (arte povera), some phrases that could well serve as the culmination of this exhibition: “un’imprevedibile coesistenza tra forza e precarietà esistenziale che sconcerta, pone in crisi o o affermazione, per ricordarci che ogni ‘cosa’ è precaria, basta infrangere il punto di rottura ed essa salterà. Perché non proviamo col mondo?”6.
In Noris’ works, the supports seem to determine the forms; a spiral made of strips of canvas rests on a base. Fragments arranged in succession, anchored to the wall. A dark tone prevails with a few flashes of light; abundant folds, almost floating, one over the other. If the world is everything that happens, this painter now exposes the traces of a journey, fragments of a ruin that includes everything; lost in its stratifications, we, the spectators, are called to contemplate the future as if it were a lamb’s liver.
Art should always be divinatory art, talking of the future. The metaphor has been exiled from the terrain of objective knowledge. Painting does not lead to objective univocality. Here there are no concepts but rather evidence of a hustle and bustle that has not yet reached its destination. Painting echoes the sensations of tactile contemplation. Layers after layers are piled up, one on top of the other, until the earth finally touches the sky.
As I already suggested, I have the impression that the title of this exhibition by Marco Noris is a metaphor. But I am not sure. Not because it is written in another language, for indeed, it is easily understood. It must be a metaphor because it describes a place that does not exist. And, if it did exist, it could not be reduced to a concept, to objective certainty. The horizon is an indecipherable space. The horizon is not a line. The sky and the earth do not touch. Where can we find that tacit comparison that forms the metaphor? It is in these paintings, with their textures, their materials, their supports.
This project poses the impossibility of objectively defining the fragile and illusory approach of figuration to abstraction, of what is touched with what is seen. His works remain in a horizon that seems to melt, slightly, almost superimposed. But this encounter never happens. Or perhaps, yes, they will come together when we finally manage to abandon the dichotomies of binary and oppositional thought.
In the light overlap of sky and earth↩︎
Samuel Beckett, Lessness, 1970↩︎
“Always tomorrow and we are never tomorrow”; Lope de Vega, from Tanto mañana, y nunca ser mañana!↩︎
Hans Blumenberg, Naufragio con espectador. Paradigma de una metáfora de la existencia, Visor, Madrid, 1995, pg. 104↩︎
Goethe, quoted in Hans Blumenberg, Op. Cit., pgs. 73-74↩︎
“An unpredictable coexistence between force and existential precariousness that disconcerts and puts in crisis any affirmation to remind us that all”things” are precarious: it is enough to go beyond the point of rupture and things will happen. Why don’t we test this with the world“. Germano Celant,”Arte Povera. Appunti per una guerriglia”, in Flash Art, No 5, Roma, Nov.-Dic. 1967.↩︎