"The eyes are there when they see - The things are there when they are seen."
This exhibition, which is the second one organized by the Fondation Tanagra in Delémont, features a series of self-portraits by Milan-based artist Aldo Lanzini, which have the particularity to be exclusively made in wool knit and crochet. One can further understand the title given by the artist, as soon as one notices or feel the watching eyes behind the masks: these eyes are watching, and it is the viewer they are observing, right in the eyes, with an expression of quiet sweetness, sincerity and a magnetic serenity. The things, these masks in this case, are very real. They do exist, because we can see them too.
These amazing creations seem to have arisen from a lost world which is both futuristic and totally contemporary. Here are evoked the adornment of the Papuans and other Ancient tribes whose location on the map is lost to us, but that we once have admired because they have kept their child's soul. They evoke these ornaments of dancers, getting ready for a tribal sacred trance, and each one of them carries the invisible thread that connects them to the animal world, instinct and magic, where innocence cannot be reduced to naivety but elevated to a permanent state of grace.
They carry the strength of warriors' adornments, but also the humor of cartoons, the most extreme fashion when it is totally liberated from any rules, they evoked the world of the deep blue seas and dark oceans, the gleaming plumage of exotic birds - one of the only species, I think, where the males are always more flamboyant than females and they need such attire to attract the attention of jaded females and to seduce them, while that are innocently pecking here and there.
But are those really masks? Not exactly, since the primary role of the mask is to give anonymity to the wearer, to protect him from the curiosity of others, and here, we all know who is behind them. On the contrary, the gaze of the artist, through the opening of these amazing hoods, each one exhilarating without ever being clownish, seems to question us in silence: and what about you, what is your own mask? As we come across the evocation of Hannibal Lecter and Elephant Man, two monsters in their own kind if ever, however here deprived from any monstrous or morbid intentions, or again a tribute to the genius body artist and performer Leigh Bowery, the talent of Aldo Lanzini, so bewitching, so rich, so poetic, is totally personal. His message is crystal clear: it is all about sensuality and modesty and I find this simply miraculous.
Lala JP Lestrade
1er juin 2012