The non-existent worlds of Aqua Aura
by Alessandro Trabucco
Aqua Aura could be defined as the result of a long and complex series of reflections and experiences, of great artistic fallings in love and unusual travels around the world, of passionate historical and fictional readings, as well as studied music listenings. This heterogeneous whole of ingredients, well mixed, is actually the element that, with the utmost fidelity, can give a first impression on who hides behind this pseudonym, evocative other than very significant referring to the identity and the history it relates.
Active since 2010, with several personal and collective exhibitions, he has been exhibiting in this period for the first time abroad, with a personal exhibition called Vacant Scenery, set up at the Kajaste Gallery in Oulu, Finland. There are some works of the Frozen Frames series and, for the very first time, those of the series called VOID.
Who is Aqua Aura? Why this name?
It is an embodied ghost. A fellow who, as certain characters of some American films, has had a NDE (Near-Death Experience) and, once he is back to life, he realizes that nothing is like before although everything is like before. Christian Boltanski maintained that “if someone decides to be an artist, it is for no longer existing, for vanishing”. In other words, an artist is someone who represents and who becomes the others or something else from himself (the universal) and, in doing this, he has no longer a face but the image or the images of such an otherness. At a certain point, for a work I were making, I had to take an interest in mineralogy and geology. The aqua aura seemed immediately a strange kind of stone. It is a forgery done by the man on a simple quartz. After a process of exposing to gold boiling steam, the quartz takes a beautiful intense blue colour, it disguises itself as precious stone. I loved the idea that a forgery could generate such a convincing illusion. I loved the essentiality of its name when I pronounced it, almost a palindrome, whose vowels are perfectly specular, a perfect rhythmic in its sequence of A, only the difference of consonants seemed just set to deteriorate a possible literary perfection. I loved the idea that, behind that name, I could dissolve myself. No longer gender distinctions, male – female. Aqua Aura could be a unicum or a moltitude or both simultaneously, a black, a white, an athlete, a cripple, nobody. Images only.
When did you start to understand that it was through the visual arts that you could express at your best your inner world?
I was seventeen. My grandfather had a sort of garage in his garden and I had set up a workshop there. I had begun to suffer of insomnia and I was painting a lot. In the evenings I painted lots of confused pictures. In my workshop there always was my dog in that times. When I went outside, he followed me. Sometimes we remained sit beside the fish tank, sometimes else we looked at the sky. Some nights there were plenty of stars. It was really beautiful.
In your cycle of images called Frozen Frames you represent a world of ice, apparently uninhabited, as if it were annihilated by a cataclysm that brought it back to a new glacial era.
We can say that FROZEN FRAMES was born from the premise of a reporter’s journey. It is clear that, for the type of images it proposes, such a premise is declined through an insane status of the imagination. I think you know Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, or, the modern Prometheus. Imagine, just for an instant, at the end of the book, when the creature and his creator meet each other for the last time and after the Doctor’s death, the “monster” goes away on the ice in a sloop with his father’s body, screaming that he will search the death, the oblivion, in that frozen nothing that the North Pole is. Imagine that, together with him, a photographer or, better, an artist joins with the aim to document that journey of perdition in the search for a self-cancellation in a so desolate land to seem the world behind the world’s end. I attempted, in some way, to follow the creature towards his perdition in the white nothing. I attempted to turn myself into a journey photographer in an insane journey to a new world as, in other terms, Edward Curtis did, when he photographed for the last time the American frontier and its last inhabitants. I attempted and I have been attempting to construct the features of a non-existent elsewhere, if not in the “visionarity” of the mind, in the continuous superimposition and the fusion of the shots of my personal journey. Sometimes, I set remains of a no longer existing civilization. In some way I am close the the frontier painters in the American Nineteenth Century, with their huge landscapes made of astonishment and amazement.
Please, tell us about your new series VOID, that you show for the very first time, outside Italy, in Finland, in a context that we could consider ideal, given the contents it expresses.
If, in some way, Frozen Frames catches aspects of a contemporary visionarity, VOID stands at its exact opposite, as a research of an outdated art, a sort of mystical vision of the image, almost religious. This last series chooses the minimum terms of its components through the essentiality of its geometry. In this sense, the choice of the sphere as supporting formal theme, but even the square or the cube, the real protagonists of the composition. They are creations that look for the maximum balance in a sort of absolute immobility, the one of a methaphysic little theatre. The sense of the landscape is still present but the represented landscape – caves of ice, spheres of ice, panoramas of snow and clouds – become the surround of the composition, closed into pure forms. They tell about a motionless and silent balance existing among the objects and the scenery. The landscape is shut up in its containers and isolated from the material world, as closed into its halo and wrapped up in its own silent energy. The choice of “framing” the images into frames of gold or silver or copper leafs, carries on the journey to this direction. The images are wrapped up in a pure and indefinable light, almost mystic, as they are shut up in a nearly aseptic form. This practice is a discovery about which the painters of our Middle Ages were already aware. In their representations, in fact, Christ was wrapped up in his “almond” of light. Bosch shut up his characters and landscapes in cruets of transparent glass. Such worlds could be observed, but their being strangers to the world was total.
Do you have historical periods or artists you look at with greater attention and that have influenced your artistic research?
Yes, I do. I would say, in one hand all those phenomena and artists that express a sort of language or research of a crossing and out-of-time methaphysic, in the other hand all those artists who have, as their creative logic, the expressive urgency. This convergence of a methaphysic glance at work and its expressive urgency is a matter I am very interested in. They remind me of James Lee Byars, James Casabere, James Turrell, the Italians Gino de Dominicis and Marco Tirelli. Each of them displays a methaphysics of the work, a rarefaction of the glance. From the other side I see Joel Peter Witkin as well as the first expressionist, Mathias Grunewald. But also the romanic sculpture. The highest example of this convergence of a methaphysic research of things with its expressive power could be perhaps the anti-classic painters of the Italian Sixteenth Century. Bronzino, who was the first, in his portraits, to create multi-dimensional little theatres that were afterwards the methaphysics of De Chirico. Pontormo, who says that the everyday reality and the mind reality are two different and separated things. From each of them, their individual particularities, I draw to construct my works. They can be: the research of a sideral perfection, the purity, the sense of dream, the foreshortening of the framing, a scream.
What do you think about the current social and economic situation, especially referring to the specific world of the art and its market?
In this specific moment I cannot see any market, at least in Italy. Referring to the social and economic situation… talking about such things is always a little dangerous, the risk to fall into the political agnosticism and the demagogy is always round the corner. There are many writers, thinkers, journalists and economists who can tell you about our times much better than me. I still remember Pasolini, who had understood many things, and many of his analysis are still valid in our time. I could go on citing Bradbury, Jean Clair, Bauman, Fitoussi. But if you want a general impression, mine is that we live in a decadent age. It seems to me that the rules that led the western style wore out, but the new rules, just appeared, we have not understood them or, maybe, we understand them and they frighten us more than the previous ones. Thinking to this reminds me what my teacher of art in my secondry school told us about the post-Napoleonic France (the one of Napoleon the Third), about how it came out the defeat of Sedan against the Prussians and in her tales the word “decline” came out often. Perhaps our Country, in this moment, reminds me the words of my teacher then, with the difference that there is no impressionistic revolution waiting for us round the corner and not even the avant-garde flourishing to make us enthusiastic.