Pier Paolo Calzolari

Pier Paolo Calzolari

Playing with the elements – that might be an apt description of the art created by Italian sculptor Pier Paolo Calzolari (1943–). Born in Bologna and raised in Venice, Calzolari found much of his artistic inspiration in the beautiful reflections of the city’s water and buildings, and from the Byzantine features of its architecture. Such sources of inspiration are clearly visible in his works, which often use various effects of light to create impact. Like many other artists associated with the Arte Povera movement, Calzolari uses simple and often humble tools and materials to create his works. Not just to save money or keep the works simple, but to reflect on the fragility of objects and materials, how easily they can be destroyed or altered, and how they can be manipulated into other forms and impressions.

Inspired by the elements

Calzolari’s fascination with light is reflected in his overall inspiration from the elements – in his case embodied by frost, plants, lead and fire. These are recurring materials in his works, with notable examples being performance works such as Mangiafuoco (1979), in which a red canvas fitted with a metal plate has a giant flame blown out onto the metal plate in a stunning display of destructive fire controlled in an art gallery setting. Calzolari shows the chaotic and uncontrollable aspects of nature’s elements, but also how they can be gently steered until they become art.

Active outside of the spotlight

Calzolari did not remain persistently active in the art world after his participation in the Arte Povera movement, and he stayed out of the public eye between 1980 and 2010. He still created art, however, and now exhibits his work at shows around the world. At the Socle du Monde Biennale, he is a prominent figure among the remarkable array of Arte Povera artists featured at the event.



Works by Pier Paolo Calzolari are exhibited here:

HEART – Museum of Contemporary Art

Socle du Monde Biennale 2021 is supported by: