exhibition
La colonna infame. Ariel Soulé and Simon Toparovsky
2 December 2011 —  1 March 2012
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La Colonna Infame refers to historical events that took place in Milan, Italy, in the 17th century

La Colonna Infame refers to historical events that took place in Milan, Italy, in the 17th century. However, not limited by references or literal approach to the theme, the work exhibited here has no other deductive purpose than to describe the condition of our psyche in the centuries long challenge to human spirit in the face of world calamities.

La Colonna Infame presents an installation of sculptures, metal structures, found objects, and wood panels mounted with oil on canvas paintings. It consists of four separately titled sections created in conformity with the general concept of a single whole in which one medium relates to another and describes its essence in a unique way. Painted abstracted forms and color fields add to the emotional and intellectual intensity of the installation, while the sculptural parts disclose the gradual development of thought process. Together they narrate a story full of allegories and symbolism, poignant references and counterpoints.

A famous trial of 1630 in Milan, a source of inspiration for this contemporary work, La Colonna Infame, will resonate as relevant in our time, and “columns of infamy”, like phantoms, will loom in our conscience. From one construction in the series to another, the artists continue exploring the troubled and mysterious terrain of human identity, raising philosophical and ethical questions with the broadest, poetic range of topics.

 

Simon Toparovsky was born in Philadelphia in 1951. After art school at the California College of Arts and Crafts and the College of Art and Humanity at the University of California, Berkeley, he first became known for making one-of-a kind books as works of art. His craftsmanship and innovation with materials pushed the conceptual boundaries of the field. His Tikal Codex was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution and awarded the special designation “first book as art for the permanent collection.”

Working in Los Angeles since 1981, Toparovsky has focused on narrative sculpture. His work has been exhibited internationally and acquired by many important collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York; the Getty Center, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Among his awards, there have been seven grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, including two Visual Artist Fellowships. In 1998, he was awarded the commission to create the life-size bronze crucifix for the main altar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which was consecrated in September 2002.

Toparovsky has been living and working in Los Angeles and Milan since 2000. In 2002 he began a continuing collaboration with Italian painter, Ariel Soulé. From their work together they developed a project, Chiasmo, where painting and sculpture combine as a unique work of art. Toparovsky and Soulé’s next project, Pantheon, to the Ulterior Gods is scheduled to take place in the of summer 2013, as concurrent exhibitions in the galleries of the Cacoyannis Foundation and the Theocharakis Foundation in Athens.

Ariel Soulé was born in Buenos Aires. As a child he attended the school of art that his father had founded in 1959. In 1967 he moved to Barcelona, Spain to continue his studies at Escuela Massana de Arte. In the 1970s Soulé lived in Italy, he studying at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan.

In 1989 Soulé was commissioned to use the Metro of Rome as the longest art gallery in the world. For this project he created works for the 42 stations of the subway system. In the next years, followed exhibitions in public spaces and museums. From 1990 to 1992, Soulé lives and work in New York. He was invited by curator, Renato Barilli to have a major solo exhibition at the Museum of Palazzo dei Diamanti of Ferrara: Paradigma. The Museum of Modern Art of Gallarate organized a retrospective exhibition, Mostra Antologica: 1973–1993. In 1995 Soulé has an installation Reflections in Milano, Piazza del Duomo. The following year, Soulé mounted another major solo exhibition, Labyrinthos, at the Museum of Modern Art of Spoleto, linked with the international Festival dei Due Mondi.

Soulé began a continuing collaboration with the American sculptor Simon Toparovsky in 2002, sharing studios in Los Angeles and Milan. From their work together they developed a project, Chiasmo, where painting and sculpture are combined as a unique work of art. It was not long after that Soulé and Toparovsky began working on a series of installations for public spaces and museums, including La Costituzione Americana in Milan, Evita's Perfect Fall in the Palazzo Comunale of Teglio, Qui, del Dicibile in a deconsecrated Gothic Church in the oldest center of Naples, A Letter from the Renaissance at UCLA, Combos and Tabulae in private galleries.