Trenta stampe digitali in b/n dipinte a mano con acrilici su carta Canson Infinity BFK 310 gr.

La camera oscura che giovane esploratore dell’immagine costruii nel mio bagno agli inizi degli anni sessanta mi rivelò fra le tante cose la possibilitĂ  di manipolazione dell’immagine fotografica. La fotografia era il risultato di quel momento irripetibile  e di uno specifico posizionamento nello spazio ma poteva essere ri-vista in fase di sviluppo e di stampa a completamento di un processo artistico e creativo in senso stretto.

Ripensando e rivisitando quegli anni mi sono trovato a esaminare il lavoro fotografico degli ultimi 40 anni ed ho potuto vedere che alcune foto erano rilevanti ed interessanti da un punto di vista puramente documentativo ed altre da un punto di vista estetico e fotografico.

Prendendo in esame migliaia di diapositive in archivio e recenti foto digitali  ho progressivamente  operato una scelta di immagini che ho spesso mostrato in presentazioni e conferenze parlando della storia del Filo e delle sue innumerevoli avventure.

Questa selezione è stata recentemente esaminata con un occhio più attento alla qualità fotografica e alla loro resa in bianco e nero su carta Canson Infinity BFK 310 g. La presenza del Filo nella foto è stata dipinta con i colori primari acrilici ripetendo e rinnovando la ritualità del “fare il Filo” che costituisce il nocciolo e l’essenza di tutta la mia ricerca artistica.

Time’s Worm[1]

Jiewen Xiao

 “Filo” is, by all means, the original language that Florence’s Lorenzo Pezzatini has been exploring throughout most of his artistic life, if one refers to “language” as an artist’s way of creating his or her works, a way of applying that technique that is recognizable through logical induction.

The artist’s intention was clear from the beginning. In The Last Painting (1977), actually Pezzatini’s first painting, paint traces of red, yellow and blue are placed directly beneath three punched holes on a otherwise blank canvas (which is sized the exact length of the artist’s wingspan), as if the paints are coming out from the canvas. Or as if the canvas is expelling the paint. Soon after, Pezzatini made his first actual “Filo” work, A Bridging Statement (1977). In this installation work, colored threads of “Filo” define a corridor that people can actually walk through in the gallery. With this work Filo established its definitive style: a non-specific length of cotton thread coated with three-primary-color acrylic paint from which protrudes sporadic thorns. Paint regained independence from its most common carrier—the canvas, a surface we consider its primary stage— and developed into a form that the artist thought appropriate to carry on its own explorations.

Literally, filo means thread in Italian. Figuratively, it is a concept that Pezzatini creates. In his later works we witness its variations and extensions: it can wrap, it can be hung on objects; its painted parts can form drops and be dotted on a lamp; it can climb up on a wine glass; it can become two-dimensionalized and printed small bits of tape or painted large on gigantic billboards which the artist uses to “flash mob” the city; its thorns can materialize in peculiar vertical or horizontal marble sculptures; and it can dissolve into paint again and be used on canvas to constitute a painting. And beyond its original prototype – the thread coated with acrylic paint, – Filo is the symbolic language Pezzatini uses. His productions can be called “Filoing”.

A Pezzatini Filo, at first sight, looks like a branch of thorns, but this painted strand is actually malleable, more rubbery than one might expect. A ten-centimeter Filo fell off its original spool during a studio visit and Lorenzo decided it should be mine. Acrylic is quite interesting as a material. As I was playing with it at home, bending it, softening it, I couldn’t help but give into my impulses. I started placing it on or next to different objects: a stack of books, a camera, thinking how nice it looked with almost anything. I positioned it in various spots in the house, including on our newly-made Japanese closet door, because I thought the beech ridge with beige textile would be perfect for it to sit on. Warmed in my palm for a few seconds it became flexible and began to move.  It is so sensitive to temperature and to its own weight that it can straighten or curve, be pulled down by gravity or change its shape to suit its condition at the moment. With another temperature change it can regain its original form. Like a pet worm. I began to see this three-colored creature everywhere…climbing on my bookshelves, leaning against my printer, gwinding up the arms of chairs, filling up my closet in tall rolls. That is when I saw what Pezzatini was up to.

For Pezzatini, Filo is what is real; reality is full of Filo, made of Filo. But I did not foresee the addictiveness or contagiousness of this creature of his[2]. In Pezzatini’s eyes Filo represents how the world is made and how it should be. It divulges a recurrent pattern. One inch of Filo says it all, about the world and our lives. It has myriad qualities. It can move and change, as we have seen. It can reproduce itself. Filo’s thorns are sometimes depicted producing little thorns of the same kind, and although this is not specified by the artiest, the latter can make more thorns, and this can continue infinitely, as a fractal[3]. It has its own logic; it represents logic; it is self-efficient and reproducible. It can be something else, almost anything else. Let us all Filo here, let us Filo there. Let us Filo up and down. Let us Filo away. One sees the sense of humor and obsession to Filoing as a way, or the only way, of life.

However, Is this the whole story? Is Filo just an intentioned conceptual work? What I am not sure about is this: has the artist realized that he has created a living thing, something he has no control of?

 Works of visual art are designed to be looked at. A picture, a sculpture, an installation…their relation to space and to the viewer is well conceived. Yet Filo, here I mean the recurring element in Pezzatini’s work, does not fit into any of these categories. We may consider the spool of Filo as a sculpture; a gate composed of Filo as an installation; a length of Filo on a canvas, as a painting. But how about Filo itself? What is it? It is a thing for sure. We can define it; We can even describe it. But can we refer to an entity called Filo? What do we do with it? One can hardly expect to purchase Filo and make one’s living room look better (which, by the way, is one of reasons why a particular artwork sells well). One has to give Filo a form, stabilize its existence in order to apply it to the space hence make sense of it. This multi-faceted and ubiquitous creature is, at the same time, an abstract idea, a concept.

Being a concept, Filo is nonetheless “real[4]”, even more real than any sort of reality we can perceive. When one puts oneself in the presence of Filo, one cannot help but notice the following fact: it is the only element that stands out, even in our recollections its stands out by comparison to our black and white scenes of memory. As if it is the only vivid thing that exists. The artist’s billboards with Filos on them force us to revise what we believe is reality and to notice that how easily our perceptions change or corrected. The sight of Filo from five hours ago is capable to appear and overlap with your current perception. Filo seems to be able to stay still or move according to its own will, regardless of the current of time and other aspects of the reality surrounding it. Filo’s presence is so strong it can be subject to myriad interpretations yet remaining indifferent to them. Its existence does not imply any external support. Instead, it is supported and proven by itself. It is unmistakable, unquestionable, invincible, and consistent in time.

Filo offers a distinct way of perceiving reality. We are reminded that what we take to be solid and static are simply fragments of reality assembled in a linear way, in accordance with the time flow we imagine. We humans can’t perceive dimensions beyond time. Filo shows us what physicists know and can’t manifest: that linear time flow is our biggest illusion. Time has other arrows. At any given point, we are our young selves and our old selves, that at any given point, physical objects have not been constructed, are being constructed, or are crumbled to dust. And in this chaos of perceptions, only Filo stands real. Artists strike to illustrate concepts; Lorenzo made a concept tangible.

  In this latest project called XXX, displayed in the Oratorio di S. Carlo Borromeo, Castelfiorentino, Pezzatini “Filos up” images, in a way that is seemingly not so different from what he has been doing to the world (to assert the truth one more time): to Filo it up in his unique manner. Photography was his first passion when he was 14, long before his artistic education in the United States. For XXX, the artist lined and dotted photos of his previous works with his distinctive paint, recreating the scenes in three dimensions by using the same technique he uses to create Filo. Yet in these revised images only the Filo is made vivid.

  A photo, a printed, two-dimensional image. It captures the reality of a specific past moment for a non-specific future moment. The realities shown in Pezzatini’s photos in Castelfiorentino are also composed of fragments of happenings. One cannot help but notice that Filo alone stands out in these photos, rendering black and white the other subjects, like fading memories; like the sensation that was left to me after seeing other Filo works by the artist; like how reality would look if rule of time really reveales itself in front of us. Filo is time’s worm. This worm represents the paradox of the Ouroboros: it eats its own tail. It cralws and appears and disappears amongs realities. Filo, in these photos, accentuates a captured moment, but also feeds the untruthfulness and absurdity of it right in to your eyes. The fragility and evanescence of our perception of life is indicated, and the “reality” of our perceived world collapses. What remains is potential.

Call it how you prefer: Dao, reason, logos…Pezzatini made something that cannot be seen seen. Filo is time’s worm.


[1] in 1927 ,British astronomer Arthur Eddington used the concept Time’s Arrow to refer to the one-way-direction and asymmetric attributes of time, which is an unsolved question in general physics till this day. The title of this essay is inspired by the abovementioned term.

[2] The artist sent me a quote via mail after the studio visit. “Will you be capable to being faithful to one thing, only to one thing, and make it the reason of your life? One thing that will contain everything and will be able to became everything, just because it is your faithfulness that will make it become infinite. Will you be capable?” (Guido Anselmi/Marcello Mastroianni a Claudia/Claudia Cardinale in Fellini’s film Otto e mezzo).

[3] One can think by analogy of what the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said about the generating mechanism of our world: “Reason begets unity; unity begets duality; duality begets trinity; and trinity begets the ten thousand things. (Dao begets nothingness; Nothingness begets Yin and Yang; Yin and Yang beget Yin, Yang and air; Yin, Yang and air beget all things.)[3] — Lao-tze’s, Tao Teh King(The Canon of Reason and Virtue), chapter 42, Translated by D.T. Suzuki & Paul Carus (1913), interpreted by the author of this essay.

[4] Actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed, Oxford living dictionary, real 1, adjective 1.

Fotofilografia Oratorio di S.Carlo – Castelfiorentino – Maggio 2018
Fotofilografia Oratorio di S.Carlo – Castelfiorentino – Maggio 2018
My son Giovanni visiting the show