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Paolo Icaro

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A journey in search of a new grammar of sculpture. A need to question everything, always. Deconstructing to reconstruct, or rather, Faredisfarerifarevedere. A vocation for doing that goes beyond the accomplished and immutable dimension of the object in order to explore the becoming; that experiences a new sculptural situation, which runs alongside the artist, in the same space of existence. In the two grounding decades of his research – the Sixties and Seventies – Icaro crossed territories. He was in transit during the Sixties, from Turin to Rome, from New York to Genoa, and then more settled in the seventies, across the ocean, in Woodbridge, Connecticut with stays in Italy each year during the summer. He explored materials; he forced the boundaries of the sculptural language until reaching grade zero in order to re-establish a new grammar of doing, as this exhibition shows, unraveling a narration that begins with a crucial moment in his journey: 1967.
In 1966 he moved to New York, where he lived until 1968. In America, he created Forme di spazio (Forms of space, 1967), immediately afterward renamed Gabbie (Cages), metal structures where the sculpture, instead of occupying space, becomes the place, the origin of that space. In 1967 he held a one-man show at the Galleria La Tartaruga in Rome and was invited by Germano Celant to participate in the exhibition Arte Povera Im-spazio at the Galleria La Bertesca in Genova, the town where he went to live on his return to Italy. In 1968 he held a one-man show at the Galleria La Bertesca, whose title Faredisfarerifareevedere (Doundoredo&see) typifies his artistic attitude. «Icaro explores space, a space to be tested with the body, to be measured physically and mentally, to be sought in the development of time; a space to be recounted, where planned and chance events, sacral intimacy and subtle irony are blended, leading to a continuous Doundoredo&see of form and thought».
Between 1968 and 1969, he participated in the main exhibitions of the international art avant-garde, where trends such as Arte Povera, Conceptual Art and Process Art made their reputations. In fact, he created actions in the Teatrodelle mostre, Galleria La Tartaruga, Rome (1968) and in Arte Povera più Azioni Povere, Amalfi (1968). He was also invited to OpLosse Schroeven. Situaties en cryptostructuren held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1969) and to When Attitudes Become Form, curated by Harald Szeemann at the Kunstahalle, Bern (1969).
In 1971 he again moved to the United States, to Connecticut, where he remained for the whole of that decade.
During the ‘70s he created cycles of work such as I luoghi del punto (Sites of the point) and Le misure intime (Intimate measurements), measurements of the body created with different sculpting materials. At this time he started to use plaster, amaterial which acts on time, preserving the imprint of the rapid gesture which has shaped it. Alone – or combined with stone, glass, wood, lead, paper – […], plaster becomes for him material of excellence, able to express different plastic states(smoothness, shagginess, solidity, fluidity), their tension and energy. At the beginning of the ‘80s he moved back to Italy for good. In 1982 he had a one-man show at the PAC – Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan; in 1987 at the Palazzina dei Giardini, Modena, presented by Dore Ashton and Pier Giovanni Castagnoli.
During the ‘70s and ‘80s, he held numerous one-man shows in important European and American galleries, including: Verna, Zurich (1972, 1974, 1978, 1985); Françoise Lambert, Milan (1976); Marilena Bonomo, Bari (1976); Massimo Minini,Brescia (1977, 1982, 1989); Paul Maenz, Cologne (1978); Hal Bromm, New York (1978, 1979); Jack Tilton, New York (1985, 1986, 1989).
During the ’90s he was invited to participate in numerous collective exhibitions: Arte italiana degli ultimi quarant’anni. Materiali anomali (Italian Art of the last 40 years. Anomalous materials), Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna (1997); Au rendez-vous des amis. Identità e opera (At the rendez-vous of friends. Identity and work), curated by Bruno Corà at the Centro perl’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato (1998); Immagini. Arte italiana dal 1942 ai nostri giorni (Images, Italian Art from 1942 to the present day), curated by Fabrizio D’Amico, at European Central Bank, Frankfurt (2000).
In 2006 he took part in the exhibition Museo Museo Museo. 1998-2006 Duecentocinquanta nuove opere per la GAM (Museum Museum Museum. 1998-2006 Two hundred new works for the GAM), curated by Pier Giovanni Castagnoli at the Torino Esposizioni show, where the body of new works purchased in 2005 by the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea  (GAM)  of Turin was exhibited.  In  October  2007  he was invited by  Luigi  Ballerini to create a permanent work for the Italian Department of UCLA (the University of California in Los Angeles). He took part in numerous collective shows including Time & Place: Milano-Torino. 1958-1968, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero (2008) and Italics. Arte italiana fra tradizione erivoluzione 1968-2008 (Italics. Tradition and Revolution in Italian Art,1968-2008) curated by Francesco Bonami (2008-2009).
In April 1966 Icaro arrived in New York, where he would live for almost two years. While he timidly looked out over the external world, curious to become familiar with the American artistic panorama dominated by new minimalist research and ready to seize the waste in a post-minimal direction, the ‘idea of work as a place of experience’, he saw it actually happen before his eyes, observing from the studio’s large windows those grids of wires, antennae, and cables that interwove over the roofs of the buildings in the neighborhood. ‘Observing that sort of “cage” that ensnared the air, the sky and the clouds,’ explains Icaro, ‘I saw how a few lines in a space could create a primary structure. This encouraged the idea of constructing “traps” to capture space and differentiate it from atmospheric space.‘He immediately recorded this impression of space in small structures of wood, rope and wire. The natural consequence of this research was relating his notes on space to the dimensions of the environment,  just as to the measurements of his own body,  in order to create an inhabitable, practicable space where the sculpture would definitively go beyond the object, creating environments, spaces to be measured, explored, in a continual becoming of action and thought.