24 June – 24 September 2013

Araba Fenice, solo exhibition by Marco Bagnoli inside the Limonaia grande in the Boboli Gardens. The project, curated by Sergio Risaliti, was carried out in collaboration with the Special Superintendence for the Historical, Artistic and Ethnoanthropological Heritage and for the Museum Center of the city of Florence.

Marco Bagnoli has always had a special relationship with the city of Florence. For the city he created site-specific works, installations inspired by the architecture of the place, its environmental and lighting conditions, and the meanings placed in these contexts, so peculiar and extraordinary. The relationship with the place represents the opportunity to dialogue with the past, comparing and taking on from time to time – as material for his project – those artistic, philosophical, scientific and spiritual experiences whose greatness and vitality our time seems to have forgotten. A comparison that does not linger in the citation of obsolete or already museumized images and styles, but lives on research and curiosity for singular or precious forms and materials, according to eccentric trajectories, which bring Bagnoli into constant contact with symbols and mythologies that are not only Western. It is not unusual to see iconographic materials and legends of ancient Persia juxtaposed with those of the Vedas, Greek myths and Renaissance philosophy, sacred science and contemporary epistemology.

For Araba Fenice, Bagnoli created a series of works designed for the space of the Limonaia grande and for the rose and lemon garden in front of the eighteenth-century building, designed by the architect Zanobi del Rosso in 1778 commissioned by Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena.

The works exhibited
Inside we find sculptures, light and sound installations, as well as a large 90 meter drawing representing the Seven Sleepers in the cave as per the Golden Legend by Jacopo da Varazze. The work is created with a sequence of approximately 500 signs hanging from the ceiling and made of fabric, plaster, red pigment and gold leaf. The public also discovers the Dog of Hermes, a ground sculpture created by superimposing geometric elements together, in order to obtain the shape of a dog’s face. Two large mirrored parabolas (Janua Coeli) in bronze and copper, placed at the extreme sides of the Stanzone, reflect the space inside with everything it contains, together with the light emitted by two projectors which reflexly illuminate the features of the Seven Sleepers. Outside and in the center of the garden, a hot air balloon made of only thin rays has been installed: the structure is mirrored with its double light projected on the wall of the Limonaia to appear in rotary movement, while in the doorway, suspended, we find the ‘almond ‘mysticism of the Immaculate Conception, one of the artist’s latest inventions: an oval of ceramic and resin painted in gold leaf with a solid body, an ovoid, embedded in the center, which alludes to the material body full of light and raised to the sky as an astral body. The mystical mandorla is the result of the intersection of two circles, or the union of two dimensions such as that of heaven and earth, the divine and the human, the masculine and the feminine, the material and the spiritual plane.

Images of shadows and light are doubled and repeated, in a hypnotic game of fixity and movement, at the center of which the Phoenix appears, the silhouette of a mythical figure which is built here in the void generated by the assembly of three sculptures . Figure of being born and reborn, of ephemeral appearance and eternal form. Dante also evokes the Phoenix, which is remembered in the Divine Comedy, in the XXIV canto of the Inferno. Since the Middle Ages the Phoenix has been interpreted as a symbol of the death and resurrection of Christ. While for alchemists, the mythical figure was associated with spiritual rebirth and Alchemical Transmutation. “Phoenix” was the name given by alchemists to the philosopher’s stone.

Marco Bagnoli’s solo show is a project of great formal commitment and great conceptual impact in which the set of individual manifestations – figurative or abstract – gives life to a theater of the world, positioned between the visible and invisible limits. An exhibition that is based on a peculiar experience of conceptual, iconographic and spiritual syncretism, as well as on the experience of beauty experienced as both a spiritual and formal goal. Marco Bagnoli has always moved on the double track of art and science, where however it is the artist’s vision that fills the gaps of the scientist, ideologically blocked in the face of metaphysical and transcendental revelations. Art as a threshold to cross for an experience of Beauty that can ignite a desire for further Truth.

The author
Marco Bagnoli has been present for years in major international exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale (1982, 1993, 1997) and Documenta in Kassel in 1982 and 1992. From the mid-1970s to today he has participated in group exhibitions in Italy and abroad (X Biennale de Paris, Art and Criticism, Identité Italienne, The European Iceberg, Promenades, Ouverture, Soonsbeek, East meets West, Europe today, Marble Periods, Minimalia, Belvedere dell’Arte). Large museum institutions such as the Castello di Rivoli, the Magasin of Grenoble, the De Appel of Amsterdam, the Center of Contemporary Art of Geneva, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Lyon, the IVAM of Valencia, the Center for Art Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Quarter-Centre of Contemporary Art in Florence, organized his solo exhibitions.
The artist also followed a completely personal path, ahead of his time, creating site-specific installations in places of exceptional artistic, architectural, religious and spiritual value, such as the Cappella dei Pazzi in Florence, the Medici Villa dei Cento Camini in Artimino , the Octagonal Hall of the Fortezza da Basso in Florence, the Church of San Miniato al Monte and the rooms of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. His works can be found in important international collections and permanent installations have been commissioned by public institutions and private patrons.

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