For the past 40 years, Parmiggiani has concentrated his practice on themes of memory, absence and silence, in his search for an image, object or assemblage that transcends time and individual experience to evoke a universal, existential truth.
Artist(s) Claudio Parmiggiani
Venue Simon Lee Gallery, London
All images Courtesy by the artist and Simon Lee Gallery. Photo: Ben Westoby.
For his fourth presentation with the gallery and his third exhibition in the London space, Parmiggiani presents a suite of new Delocazione works. These panels, painted with smoke and soot, filled with the shadowy imprints of books, transform the empty gallery walls into a ghostly library. The volumes that line each shelf appear burnt, dematerialised from physical object to residual outline. An additional single Delocazione panel embodies a human figure; the imprint of a vanished presence that haunts the artist’s library. Since Parmiggiani initiated the Delocazione they have become a recurrent and fundamental element of his oeuvre, amongst his most powerful expressions of absence.
A cast iron bell hangs from the ceiling but rests immobile. Rendered mute by its stasis, its silence has a near physical impact. The stillness of the bell echoes through the gallery, magnified by the shelves, which house charred books similarly void of sound – their words eradicated. Parmiggiani has defined his installations as theatres in which silence is the performance. These works situate the potential of sound at the heart of silence: a silence of plenitude. A secluded Delocazione hides away at the end of gallery, here Parmiggiani immortalises a cloud of butterflies as they rise in flight, vividly eternalised in their silent journey their delicate wings flutter in stillness.
Over the course of his career Parmiggiani has developed a concise and powerful vocabulary, gathering objects, fragments and images which he chooses for their evocative power. The artist refers to the sources in this repository as ‘presences’. Books, bells and butterflies are an essential part of this lexicon and recurring motifs in his work. Presented in dialogue, they reinforce one another’s symbolic significance, revealing new connections in their elucidation of timelessness, humanity and antiquity.
In these new works, Parmiggiani ultimately articulates an ongoing commitment to his investigation into the human condition and the footprints we leave behind; they invite us to reflect on our quest for knowledge and the fleeting impression we leave in the annals of history.