Welcome to Time Is Mute. Do you like what you see? We guess you do. But now there’s another question: what do you see? This is retrospective on the work of Mario Merz. This show examines the origin of a body of work suspended in a kind of pre-historic time, contrary to the discourse of modern-era history.
This anachronistic perspective, apparent in the choice of materials and iconography, stems from the ideological and committed stance of an artist and his attitude to the political and intellectual climate in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s, in addition to his rejection of ubiquitous capitalism and the American way of life after World War II.
Who was Mario Merz? He was an outstanding Italian artist and sculptor. He produced expansive mixed-media paintings, sculptures and installations, through which he propagated an egalitarian, human-centered vision.
As Merz was interested in the relationship between art and nature, much of his work addresses the organic growth of natural elements and the Fibonacci progression, a mathematical formula, developed by Leonardo Fibonacci in the Middle Ages. The igloo was also a central element in his oeuvre, through which the artist revealed the prehistoric and tribal features, hidden within the present time and space.
Art critic Germano Celant identified Merz’s practice with such movement as Arte Povera. Why? Because in addition to Merz’s opposition to the post-industrial society of consumerism, the artist uses different organic materials, including clay, branches, wax and coal. These materials are associated with the pre-modern such images as fire, lightning bolts and arrows; figures with mythical and geological meanings – the igloo, the table, the spiral, the river; or ancestral animals like the rhinoceros and the crocodile.
It’s worth mentioning, that Mario Merz was also intrigued by the powerful, as well as the small (a seed, that will generate a tree or the shape of a leaf) and applied both to his drawing.