Francesco Barocco
10 Apr 2010 – 22 May 2010


Weather has always been the main determining aspect of man’s environmental experience; with its ambiguities forever demanding renewed interpretation and debate. The sky throughout history has been variously filled by the promptings of the imagination, whether with gods and prophecies and the rhythms of the zodiac, or with the first stirring of scientific thought.

The Invention of Clouds, Richard Hamblyn

Francesco Barocco gave me The Invention of Clouds on a visit to Turin. He had not read it, as the book has not been translated into Italian, and I sensed hisfrustration. Similarly, I had missed out on most of the conversations on hiswork due to the language-barrier, and, as a result, this book became pivotal in facilitating my personal relation to Francesco, both representing our attempt to communicate, and informing my understanding of his practice.

The book is a biography of the 19th Century meteorologist, Luke Howard, and his conception of a cloud classification scheme in an era ripe with emerging scientific concepts. The clouds seem very resistant to enter into that language, due to the fluid and temporal nature of their formations. These characteristics also seem pertinent to my understanding of the works of Francesco Barocco. References to science, religion, art and poetry accumulate in his practice to find but a temporary state.  An individual work is understood in the entirety of its formation rather then through the sum of its individual references and their representation.

The works are oblique; spray paint covers the surfaces. This technique at first very urban and direct obscures and generates a sense of mysticism that triggers me to look at the figures behind this veil. These classical and oriental figures reoccur frequently in his work and it is this employment of a limited set of images that reminds me of another Turin artist, Medardo Rosso. After being expelled from Brera for his avant-garde ideas, Rosso moved to Rome and due to limited resources spent, as some sources claim, his nights sleeping among the ruins of the Colosseum. The statues became so familiar to him that they became the tool rather then the object of representation. It was this experience that incited his conception of a sculpture as living within a block of material.

The oriental and classical references in the work of Francesco in this sense function more as materials to be employed within his practice than as a composition of contradicting histories to be read in a dialectic manner. The images become the material Francesco is so familiar with, the object for his subjective manipulation and transformation.

The artists’ studio is then the place that constitutes the here and now in which the various elements find their form. The images are utilised, becoming the support onto which the cleaning of an etching plate occurs, and shapes that emerge become the folds on which to spray paint upon. This fluidity between technique and materials, remains in the unstable state of his sculptures and drawings. The composition of the sculptures for example the images of figures, the unbaked clay on which the image is pinned, finds its balance only in the moment we engage in the precarious language it generates.

Text: Pieternel Vermoortel, 2010

Francesco Barocco (b. Susa, Italy 1972) lives and works in Turin. Recent exhibitions include solo exhibitions at Museo d’Arte della Citta, Ravenna and Galleria Norma Mangione, Turin. Group exhibitions at Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin and Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano.

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