Why the exhibition on the work of the artist-performer who told everything and its opposite is worth seeing: at the Prada Foundation until September 23rd

Pino Pascali was an exhibitionist. And it's not a joke, if we stick to what Mark Godfrey writes, who with this word highlights the artistic and creative work of the Apulian artist.

According to what the English art historian and curator writes, "First of all [the exhibitionist had] to create engaging albeit temporary environments with his works, environments that were more than the sum of their parts".

Secondly, “the exhibitionist had to secure as many exhibition opportunities as possible and then take control of them.” Third, “the exhibitionist recognized the importance of having images of the exhibition before and after the installation”.

Fourth, "the exhibitionist had to infuse new life into his work for each exhibition, and above all he had to radically change the approach to the realization of each exhibition project".

And Pino Pascali? It was all of this together. This is how he tells it at the exhibition dedicated to him at the Prada Foundation in Milan with the curatorship of Marc Godfrey who precisely describes the exhibitionist Pino Pascali in four sections.

Ground floor: five installations of five different exhibitions conceived by the artist are recreated in the Podium space. The large hall is therefore divided into boxes with the exact dimensions of the galleries in which Pascali intervened to place the selection of his works. A double game between the selection of the pieces and the way of setting them in the space, to create imaginative spaces of which he took control.

You can see Pascali's first solo exhibition at the Galleria La Tartaruga in Rome in 1965 (with Close-up lips and La gravida or Maternità); the exhibition at the Galleria Sperone in Turin in 1966 (with the Armi series) and those of 1966 and 68 at the Galleria L'Attico with the animal series and finally the selection of works chosen for the solo show at the Venice Biennale in 1968 (which includes Pelo, Contropelo and Pontlevario).

Precisely that year Pino Pascali lost his life, at just 32 years old.

The second theme is that of natural and industrial materials used by Pascali, a wizard of transformation who, like an alchemist of forms, used eternit, earth, metal, acrylic bristles, straw, leather , synthetic fur… for his sculptures.

Which create exceptional environments to circumnavigate (such as plowed fields and irrigation canals) or to observe carefully (such as the Arch of Ulysses).

To dialogue with these works on display there are magazines of the time that describe the materials used and video interviews with the restorers. We are immersed in an era and in the creative use of ultra-modern "things", daughters of the industry and construction of the time.

To tell his story together with his works is Pino Pascali photographed by Andrea Taverna, Claudio Abate and Ugo Mulas and filmed in the video by Luca Maria Patella .

As the curator explains, those images “mainly fulfilled two functions. First, they were promotional materials, as iconographic editors, when deciding how to illustrate publications, found those images more intriguing than the formal, composed shots documenting other artists' exhibitions.

Secondly, they suggested ideas to Pascali's audience that, by seeing those photographs, he would have an idea of how to relate to an exhibition in an unusually inventive and playful way."

Thus the South Gallery of the Prada Foundation re-proposes these shots, together with Blue Widow, Cinque Bachi da Setola and Un cocoon and other iconic works. The playful aspect, in fact, is guaranteed.

And he also guides the last room, the one that connects Pascali with other artists. We are in the North Gallery which hosts Pascali's contributions in three important group exhibitions: “Fuoco Immagine Acqua Terra”, curated by Alberto Boatto and Maurizio Calvesi at L'Attico (Rome, 1967); Cinquième Biennale de Paris: Manifestation Biennale et Internationale des Jeunes Artistes, curated by Jacques Lassaigne in Paris and “Arte Povera” curated by Germano Celant at the Galleria de Foscherari (Bologna, 1968). There are Reconstruction of the Dinosaur (1966), 1 cubic meter of earth (1967), 9 m2 of puddles (1967) and River with triple mouth (1967), in comparison with Alighiero Boetti, Agostino Bonalumi, Mario Ceroli, Luciano Fabro, Piero Gilardi, Jannis Kounellis, Eliseo Mattiacci, Gianni Piacentino and Michelangelo Pistoletto.

The exhibitionist exhibition thus ends, in an alienating journey inside Pascali, among his ideas of exhibition, his concept of art, his experiments with materials, his story in the cameras of others and in comparison with the works of his contemporaries. This is why it's like having seen four exhibitions: four ways of thinking Pino Pascali. Or just one, which is called irony.

Pino Pascali, Fondazione Prada di Milano, Largo Isarco 2, open from Monday to Sunday 10am-7pm, closed on Tuesday. Until September 23, 2024