The formless sensuality of matter
The English word pulse is a powerful term whose sound already suggests the various nuances of its meaning, each with its own poetic sense: it indicates an impulse of the body (heartbeat, detected by taking one’s pulse), a rhythm (as in music), and also a force, in its meaning of vital energy.
“Acts of pulse,” the title chosen by June Crespo for her first solo exhibition at Galleria P420, artistically translates this surprising verbal resource, a word that encompasses multiple movements of thought inside a single written sign, and also a quality intrinsic to the language of sculpture: the form of a work expresses the shape—shifting nature of the material, which continues to transform and to reformulate reality since it contains other possible expressions of the world (the cosmos is in-habited, already lived inside), like an elementary particle that indefinitely combines with others depending on the forces in action and the interactions they trigger.
If the mind is a continuous process, then its productions also conserve the vivid characteristic of representing themselves in a series of acts that manifest their impulse to be one thing but “also” another. This is a mental attitude June Crespo shifts into her work: to see is also a process of the mind, an impulse to imagine what could be but has not yet made itself perceptible, which the hands of the artist draw out of the material. “The unconscious not only courts the transformation of everything into its opposite, but holds both of these things together at once.”1 The force of sculpture, and of the artist, is to create a figure, perceiving the thrusts that inhabit the material, the agents concealed there, the unexpressed aspect of things.
The artist’s work explores the tension of the world to remain mysterious, in its desire to be not finished or not ascribable to a single, simple guise. She captures the vitality of the matter that reveals itself to us through its continuing transmutation from one form to another, one system to another, in an autopoietic process. Autopoiesis—a term coined just forty years ago by the Chilean biologists and philosophers Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela—consists of a “set of relations among production processes,”2 an act of creation that sustains itself and produces itself from the inside, in continuous self-redefinition. It is an impulse to get beyond finite forms and definitions, a challenge of life to regulating or dissipating actions, both human and natural. It is the principle of non-contradiction in a chain of “but also”) that brings together all the stages and their meanings: the form of a petal is also the line of the tongue that presses against the palate, curving, exactly like the curve of a riding saddle forms an unprecedented space and also a void. The physical reality of the world unfolds in intercorrelated figures, a design of greater power, never definitive, that displays both the infinitude and the finitude of things.
“I try to accompany the right forms until they become something else. Until they become one thing and many things at the same time. A form pushed from within, with slight variations that end up in another form. I like to think that all the pieces are one single piece in the making. I insist and repeat in order to capture subtle differences, to create a rhythm or to encircle something that eludes me.” With these words, June Crespo sums up her artistic practice, emphasizing that sculpture, for her, is a process of accumulation and always-different repetition.
Crespo’s sculptures free the boundaries of bodies and objects from fixed terms, stable or closed configurations, to emancipate the life of things from the limits of a culture that is too unnatural and materialist, disclosing the silent but vital existence of other possibilities in the continuous transmutation of forms. A new development of the concept of the informe as a not only unconscious mode of manifestation of matter: the world is a field of forces that invert, converge, balancing each other in an apparent and nourishing opposition. From solid to pliable, rigid to soft, biological to inorganic, these various combinatory properties emerge in the materials and working methods utilized by the artist, also suggested by the titles: light, ductile elements like fabric softly sculpt the skeleton of the work, at times concealing themselves inside it, while solid, firm substances like cement, iron, bronze and resin speak to us of our need to be rooted to the earth.
An inorganic sensuality, retained in the matter of things and in its infinite images, invigorates the exhibit installation of the second room, where June Crespo presents a very new body of works that also lends its title to the show. In the powerful wall-mounted sculptures of “Acts of pulse” the form of a riding saddle represents the matrix of a specular arrangement in the space, which in each case allows a different possibility of being to emerge. This potentially symbolic element—a saddle that resembles a tongue, and also a petal—poeticizes the impulse of the material to self-produce in images that are dissimilar but connected to each other, suggesting the fractal forms of our universe, like the design of the galaxies.
The set-up of the exhibition spatially conveys this complexity and the many levels of meaning of her work, engaging us in an experience of discovery. In the two rooms, the artist has envisioned a dialectic of gazes between the different groups of works, and a visual pathway full of references, suggestions and hypothetical relationships.
at P420, Bologna
until February 5, 2023