REVIEWS

ENRICO CHALLIER | BOZZETTO

ANGELO MISTRANGELO - The Breath of Matter

Presences, silences, subtle emotions define the time of Challier’s sculpture, the atmosphere of a continuous and persistent research, dominated by the female figure, marked by the melancholy of gazes, by the outstretched forms who seem to evoke the essentiality of Giacometti.

Challier works with great energy, with passionate tension, with the intriguing use of colour, which underlines the value of the representation, often combined with the flowing of verses by great authors, such as Pablo Neruda or Nazim Hikmet, because to him it’s poetry that offers the possibility to communicate feelings, expectations, aspirations, anxieties.

Woman is the constituent, irreplaceable element of his art, of his interpreting dreams and visions, of his will to convey an idea, a philosophy telling us that an artist “must strive tirelessly to look for beauty, for only Beauty will save us”.

And so sculptures become signals, remembrances, measures of a storytelling that flows with extreme sensitivity, with the unstinting energy innate in wood, with the sharpness of a line that focalises, encompasses and anchors in space the female figure.

I need feelings

words

words wisely chosen

flowers known as thoughts

roses known as presences

dreams inhabiting the trees

- Alda Merini

And they are graceful women, almost immaterial, projected towards a persuasive verticality, created with a technique that transmutes the existing form of a tree trunk according to an interpretation which comes from afar, from childhood memories, from a deep investigation of existence, the symbol of which can be seen in trees: “I have loved them more and more since then and the conscious choice of entrusting my art to them has sprung from this deep love... they can flex, bend, even break, but they will always try to go up and reach for the sky”.

This upward, ascensional propensity characterises the constituent rhythm, the definition of the body, the delicacy of the clothes that wrap the figure stretching it with regal dignity, with an extremely controlled movement, with a seductive and symbolical glance that fascinates and delivers the extraordinary strength of an idea or a story or the chapters of the novel of a life.

And in these coloured sculptures, the tree bark becomes dress, skirt, red shoes, with a resolving power which is manifested through a bold and determined delving into the wood matter.

Persistent, Challier’s gesture goes beyond reality to reach a universe in which a new humanity is found, re-conquered, revisited, reinterpreted with the freshness of a dialogue that transcends time, society, the seasons of a research, able to give his works a certain, indisputable feminine identity, as expressed in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s words:

“All things transitory

But as Symbols are sent.

Here the Inadequate

Becomes attainment.

The indescribable,

Here it is done.

The Eternal Feminine draws us

Upwards and on...”

Challier’s women belong to all of us. Seductive, meditative, mysterious, carved in our memory by the sculptor’s courageous gesture.

FRANCESCO POLI - Beyond the Walls

The space of the work of art and the space around the work of art. The wooden sculptures by Enrico Challier and a series of monumental buildings and industrial sites in Pinerolo (TO), that have been for years in a state of complete neglect. To witness the unusual charm of this impermanent dialogue, and to give it a special visual value, the photos taken on location by Valentina Costantino. This is what the exhibition is about.

The installation of artistic works in unconventional urban contexts (for whatever reason they may be meaningful) has been an on-going practice for quite some time now almost everywhere, but it’s a novelty for Pinerolo. And this idea of going “Beyond the Walls” is noteworthy because it springs from the intelligent interaction of two cultural demands which are synergistically compatible: on one hand the desire of an artist to make his works known in the best possible way, to make people appreciate them from a wider and more socially alive perspective; on the other hand, the commitment of all those who contributed to this initiative (also in collaboration with the Association Italia Nostra) in order to do something to sensitise the public opinion and the competent authorities about the distressing deterioration of buildings that represent fundamental parts of the architectural identity and the historical and social memory of the city.

The idea was making the thin and slender female figures sculpted by Challier “visit” these locations, in order to create an estranging short circuit able to activate a surprising vision of the places to explore. Thanks to the well studied placing and arrangements of the art works and to the evocative framing of the photos, it has been successfully triggered the fascination that comes from the “aesthetics of ruins”, that is to say what makes us perceive – even if just for an instant, in a suspended and contemplative dimension – all the intensity of time, which permeates old and solemn spaces, full of dust and rubble, powerful but crumbled walls, rooms and halls with remains of furniture, sheds and warehouses full of wreckage and trash and places that are now just a receptacle for birds and stray cats.

It’s the gentle and fairy-like enchantment that the sculptures radiate that makes us see things from such a perspective. But this enchantment, which only virtually remains in the photographic images, soon disappears; when you put your feet on the ground again, you find yourself facing the harsh reality of a sad situation, that the city tries to remove from its collective awareness, pretending to forget it exists, instead of reacting and create a virtuous circle that could succeed in curing these urban diseases.

After the brave outings (in places like the ruins of Palazzo degli Acaja, the upstairs floor of the baroque Palazzo Vittone, a venue with a glorious equestrian past like the former Scuola della Mascalcia – the farriery school, or the cold industrial spaces of the former Merlettificio Turk, the lace making factory) the sculptures have fatally come back to the spaces dedicated to art, where they can be calmly admired by the visitors. But their adventure, their environmental mission, has generated a photographic work that has its own specific artistic quality. An added value which is essential for the overall meaning of the exhibition.

To conclude, I think it’s right to underline the fact that the sculptures by Challier, modern nieces of the diaphanous female figures of Art Nouveau (but also, in some way, related to Valentina, the cartoon character created by Guido Crepax), even if they are idealistically inspired by literary (mainly poetic) suggestions, are nonetheless artistic creations that come from walnut tree trunks and so they maintain (because the artist wants so) a very communicative botanical soul, that of the woods from which they come, that of the art studio – full of wood – where they are conceived, born, exposed to light, coloured and decorated. Their message in this occasion is also (if we may say so) to hope for a new approach and harmony between natural environment and urban context.