Lavinia TonettiSilent Presence


And it seems she is a thing come to earth
from heaven to show forth a miracle.
Dante Alighieri

Guido De Zan’s artistic research is sustained by genuine, painful and yet inalienable reflection on mankind, a term of reference and the prime measure of everything which takes shape by his hands, irrespective of use or purpose.

The human figure is indeed a preferential subject, including in his most recent work. The artist builds it first by tracing outlines in the soft clay, later assembling the silhouettes thus formed, now slightly hardened, and modelling them by gentle pressure from the fingers, with controlled, extremely delicate gestures. Using the slab technique, the clay is raised up from its inertia by restrained force, quite without sudden movements, and becomes animated with a sensuality that is just tangible in the sinuous lines and first flush of colour that makes its forms more vital and dynamic.

The silent, solemn presence of De Zan’s works establishes a communicative rapport, not verbal but of signs, which draws on two fundamental principles of human knowledge and personality: a rational and emotional tension. This duality is a constant in the artist’s poetics, and it can be seen clearly both in the small-scale sculptures hanging from threadlike supports in precarious equilibrium, and in the rather more solid busts that are apparently rooted in the ground. In these the faces are never identical: rigid incised marks correspond to the more rational side, while the marks are freer and softer on the more mobile and sensual side.

“In reality,” the artist emphasises, “they are timeless figures, rather unearthly, seeing not with their eyes but introspectively, perhaps awaiting different moments to cast their gaze outwards, to the world”.

The structural layout of the works reveals their aspiration to inhabit an intimate, domestic, familiar space, like the ancient gods of the hearth. Lares that for centuries have been harbouring the desire for peace and stability.

2003