The boy with the moon and the stars on his head
curated by Eduardo Cicelyn e Mario Codognato
20.12.08 | 18.01.09
For the fourteenth edition of Arte in piazza the urban space is turned into a theatre stage in which five actors play their respective roles, blending in with the crowd of passers-by as street mimes or with the jumble of statues that adorn old buildings. In the background, two parallel rows of banners bear adages and messages. The director of this original pièce is Jan Fabre (Antwerp, 1958), champion of an interdisciplinary artistic research aimed at overcoming the expressive and moral barriers of his time through a stubborn spirit of provocation. After a successful exhibition at the Paris Louvre and the presentation in Naples of Another Sleepy Dusty Delta Day at the Teatro Festival Italia in June, the Belgian artist animates Piazza del Plebiscito with five of his most famous bronze sculptures: L’Homme qui donne du feu (1999), with the man protecting the flickering flame under his trench coat; L’Homme qui mèsure les nuages (1998), making his improbable measurements from above the colonnade of the church of St Francis of Paola; L’Homme qui pleure et rit (2005); L’Homme qui écrit sûr l’eau (2006), a man who writes his last words sitting in a bathtub, recalling David’s Marat; L'Astronaute qui dirige la mer (2006) located on one of the balconies of the Royal Palace.
These statues are produced from casts of the artist’s body and multiply his image with different gestures that are real and concrete even when he tries to reach unattainable goals, such as measuring an ambiguous and imponderable reality in a rational way or writing his last wills on the surface of water. Fabre creates imaginary characters and invents their features, building a world that remains halfway between fiction and reality in which, distant from one another, they communicate through a mysterious play of formal and symbolic references.
Even though the characters wear modern and down-to-earth clothes, the works exorcise the triviality of daily life, standing out on the landscape as dramatis personae of a Renaissance painting. At the same time the golden colour of their skin\gloss that Fabre uses to assert the different reality of Man compared to Nature, also relates back to the humanism of the Renaissance period.
These characters are intermediate figures who live a life of their own, just like the artist or the angel, heralds of a latent mystery incessantly shifting between sleeping and waking, here and elsewhere. Spiritual travellers moving towards a new human reality.