Nicola Ghirardelli at The Address Art Gallery / Brescia

Nicola Ghirardelli, Giardino in Cenere

24.04 / 09.06

The Address Art Gallery
Via Felice Cavallotti, 5

The art of the garden, present in Western culture since antiquity,expanded within bourgeois culture through the reorganisation ofnature and its inflorescences, finding great fertility in the Frenchcourts of the 14th century and later in the Italian courts of the earlyRenaissance. The principle of the associative system through whichto reformulate the natural order is based on the search for an ideaof organicity, of a floral rhythm comparable to what Burle Marxdefined as an orchestration of musical notes in an open space—plants as notes, which can be altered according to the chord theyproduce. During modernism, the design of green areas takes onan infrastructural function: the objective is the decoration of publicspace, in the function of the application of a demagogic living spacein which to exercise any form of soft-power, of representation of theupper-middle class. Over the centuries, this idea of decorativism,closely linked to a precise social class, has exasperated thesymbolism of nature to the point of assuming not only the form ofurban ornamentation, for the delimitation of central spaces fromperipheral ones, but also reappearing within design, connoting thehistoric centres of every European city.Nicola Ghirardelli’sGiardino in Cenerepresents itself as analternative to the failed ideology that for centuries has perpetuatedthe idea of being able to tame organic nature. Rather, what appearsin the spaces of The Address seems to be the erosion of all thatwe have apparently set aside, and that until now has composedpart of our collective memory: architectural friezes, symbolicstructures deteriorated from their original function, floral patterns andnarrative cycles. The sculptural fragments are despoiled from theiroriginal location, seeming to have been burnt by violent fires andsubsequently reassembled towards the formulation of a mnemonicagglomerate. The forms that Nicola Ghirardelli amalgamates in thiscase, through the re-appropriation of sculptural discursive practices,aim to restore another organicity, which gives rise to a multiplicity ofirregular utterances. This irregularity is given by the fact that thereis no interest on the part of the artist in this case in tracing thesesymbolic structures back to a precise space and time. The textures inthe installations have been conjured up from an open-source archiveand subsequently remodelled through 3D printing.Sicomoro (2024), is de facto one of the main installations withinthe exhibition. The work is composed of four terracotta trees,produced using the bucchero technique - a firing process in theabsence of oxygen, which, thanks to the combustion of wood,branches and sawdust, allows ferrous oxide to develop, producing acharacteristic metallic black colour on the sculptures. Each of themexpresses Nicola Ghirardelli’s sculptural interest in the use of fire asa defining element, starting with the alchemical philosophy of thetransformation of matter. In Ghirardelli’s sculptures, there is neverany idea of linearity, neither of the history nor the production of theorganic image: in fact, the work is always shared with the elementsthat are left to answer for their essence. The alternative then is to burnto radiate, to re-imagine, to conspire, to resist.

Text by Arnold Braho