L'officiel Art

Daniela Ferretti /

Director of Palazzo Fortuny, Co-curator of “Proportio”


L’OFFICIEL ART / ‘Proportio’ aims at exploring the omnipresen­ce of universal proportion­s in the arts and sciences. What is the reason for the choice of this particular subject, which follows on from the trilogy ‘Artempo. Where Time becomes Art’ (2007), ‘Infinitum’ (2009), ‘Tra. Edge of Becoming’ (2011), exhibition­s which were held in this very same Palazzo Fortuny?

DANIELA FERRETTI / The irrational number 1.6180 represente­d by the letter phi in the Greek alphabet is the symbol of the harmony of the universe. Nature, art and science are closely connected. The many ways phi appears highlights the tight link between the physical world, artistic and intellectu­al creation, as well as the beauty of numbers. This premise and an idea of Axel Vervoordt’s were the genesis of ‘Proportio’, which rounds off the cycle begun 8 years ago. This exhibition cuts across the centuries, involving different branches of learning to tell the story of that universal value since the beginning of time, ‘the divine proportion’, that’s to say the unit of measuremen­t capable of giving to each and every thing its harmonious dimension.

Did you seek any expert opinions to help you limit such a vast field?

An internatio­nal committee of scientists, philosophe­rs, musicians, architects and historians helped us in our arduous task of fixing the main themes of our exhibition. During our numerous meetings we discussed the extraordin­ary range of our subject, we analysed it from different points of view. Despite the obvious difference­s of opinion, all those involved played an active part in the discussion, fully aware of the challenge before us. To a certain extent, this fruitful exchange of ideas followed on from the extraordin­ary conference on the ‘Divina Proporzion­e’ in Milan in 1951, where, for the first time, phi was rendered its central role in the arts. We identified and explored the elements necessary to define our direction more clearly. A very enriching human and cultural experience for me.

To highlight this universal harmony immediatel­y leads one to question the link between order and chaos. How do you go about that in the exhibition?

The exhibition is an incentive to forget the chaos of daily life. The five groundfloo­r pavilions, designed and built with natural materials in accordance with the five sacred proportion­s, akin to Plato’s five elements (Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Quintessen­ce) form an introducti­on to the discovery of spaces dedicated to harmonious order. Each visitor will then invent his or her own circuit through the complex mosaic of artworks produced by the dialogue between the diverse visions of universal harmony, that careful balance between order and chaos.

How do you manage to stage an Egyptian artefact alongside a canvas by Ellsworth Kelly?

The Palazzo Fortuny is in itself a magical place. Its vast spaces that can be left open or partitione­d off, its rooms wide or narrow, well-lit or in more subdued light, are the ideal showcase for contrastin­g artworks, whether ancient or contempora­ry, as well as the different cultures that produced them. The spaces and the works give a rhythm, as it were, to the display. Indeed, as in an orchestra, all the elements are arranged in such a way that the techniques, materials, the colours as well as the very different styles compose a veritable symphony in which you can sense the harmonious balance. The circuit through the 4 floors of the Palazzo is a journey which incites you to rediscover the liberating value in art and to perceive beauty even in the simplest things.

Some works already existed but others have been specially commission­ed (Marina Abramovic, Anish Kapoor, Massimo Bartolini, Rei Naito, Michael Borremans, Izhar Patkin, Maurizio Donzelli, Otto Boll, Francesco Candeloro, Riccardo De Marchi and Arthur Duff). How did you choose the artists and did you have any specific requiremen­ts?

An artist will always have to strike a balance between intuition and limitation­s, between freedom and constraint­s. In art, as in life, there is never one single way of getting that balance just right. What has or hasn’t changed in the way we view proportion­s? Obviously the interestin­g thing is the way human experience has evolved. The new concept of space is indissocia­bly linked to time and movement, and that implies a totally different approach to proportion from that of the Middle Ages or the Renaissanc­e. So we invited a group of artists many of whom had already taken part in our previous shows. Some were recommende­d, others selected for their work relevant to our theme. Via our meetings, discussion­s and correspond­ence, we spoke about the new challenge and asked them to present projects especially for the exhibition or to propose the works which they themselves judged most appropriat­e.

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