“The world cannot be described without color, which is not a decorative element but a fundamental feature of the entire formal construction. It changes the perception of a place on the level of spatial and sensorial experience, redefining the borders between us and things, with its own poetics and its own function.
Through the design of color you can warm or cool a context. The impact of light and its effects produce a third ‘phantom’ color that makes the landscape vibrant and establishes a dialectic with the viewer, called upon to interpret the dynamic game of virtual depths.”
These are the words of Raymundo Sesma, an outsider artist-designer of international stature who since 1980 has lived and worked in Mexico (his native land) and Milan (where he studied, at the Fine Arts Academy of Brera, and in the workshop of a master, Giorgio Upiglio, the engraver and printer of works by great artists, from De Chirico to Adami, Baj to Calder).
“Mexico made me sensitive to color, which is life. I have absorbed the language of pre-Columbian art, as well as that of Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, among others. When I was a boy my father, who was a pharmacist, gradually introduced me to architecture, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Walter Gropius, through books people gave him.
Later, I discovered and appreciated the unique creativity and craftsmanship of Italy, a question of ‘genes’ cultivated for centuries. My vision is the result of the sum of these stimuli. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Giacomo Balla theorized a Futurist reconstruction of the universe, with painting that would spread out to clothing, walls, furniture, architectural surfaces. And inside this open, distributed, boundless universe, nothing would remain totemic, untouchable, immutable. Because – to say it with Felix Guattari – art is a living material, rather than a category of thought, just as the theater is a campo expandido for the American art critic Rosalind Krauss.”
Sesma has constructed his own personal ‘campo’ with a precise mode of formal abstraction of the creative level: “I am interested in finding a dialogue with the context,” he explains, “expanding the range of action of painting, which leaves the canvas and covers three-dimensional surfaces. In the end, what is important to me is to transform architecture into an artistic object, through the deconstruction of the landscape; and, without separating art from life, to find the possibility of improving the face of everyday things.”
Raymundo specializes in just this: with his studio Taller Advento he makes worldwide site-specific projects that take on the value of environmental sculpture, integrating his work with that of architects, technicians and other counterparts.
The more the context of intervention is depressed, the stronger the value of recovery and renewal of the architectural artifact (in&out), which takes on new meanings and identities. Above all in terms of sharing with the community, participation; and without the need for destruction, museums, galleries. In this poetic of ‘colonization’ of places, which is not camouflage, but extension, osmosis, inclusion, drawing as an expressive language and structure represents the basic device of the critical and constructive project.
“In my pieces the interaction between spaces and volumes, full and empty zones, perspectives and vanishing points, is fundamental. At times an ‘empty sign’ can generate infinite resonances, and often the outside becomes inside, and vice versa. Specific iconographic elements of a place can enter the project, which when taken out of context, distorted in their image and reinterpreted – I remember the totemic image of the industrial gasometer in the Bovisa area in Milan, where I worked with the students of the Polytechnic in 2006 – become something different, a new ornament seen in an evolutionary, not aesthetic sense.”
Among his past exploits in Milan, we should also mention the exhibition at the Triennale in 2004, where the chromatic mega-backdrop with 3D effects ‘lit up’ the display of Mexican crafts objects in onyx, marble and ceramic; and, more recently, for the exhibition Grattanuvole, on a century of skyscrapers in Milan, at Fondazione Catella, the large Milan skyline, 8 x 3 meters: a tribute to a rising city.
Today Sesma is working on the renewal of the industrial area of San Vito at Calamandrana, in the province of Asti. And in Viggiano, Basilicata, for ENI his is concentrating on the landscape-architecture revitalization of COVA (Centro Olio Val d’Agri). His Miglio Artistico ushered in the first phase of the project, done together with Andreas Kipar/LAND Milano.
“A wall becomes an opportunity for rediscovery, an instrument in dialogue between two realities: the life inside the industrial plant, part of a productive cultural landscape, and the life outside, part of a contemplative natural landscape. The rediscovery is obviously left up to the observer, the active protagonist of the work: stimulated to move along it and decipher it not only with the gaze, but also physically, in space and time, precisely through the special perceptive ‘syntax’ of chromatic movement.”
text by Antonella Boisi – photos courtesy Raymundo Sesma and Galleria Luis Adelantado