The Breaker of Narratives
by Nicola Polloni
This text has been published in Chinese with the title «叙事的打破者» in January 2022 on website of 苏州市雕塑协会 [= Suzhou Sculpture Association]. You can read the original version at the following link. More info about the artist are available here.
Andrea Fagioli’s artistic production is marked by the artist’s constant dialogue with the flow of time. Playing with its oxymoronic presence and absence, attachment and detachment, time is the veiled protagonist of Fagioli’s pieces. As with an ancient deity, time manifests itself in its creative functions: it shapes destinies and thoughts, lives and deaths, feelings and convictions. While the notion of time has fascinated many artists, Fagioli’s unique artistic perspective depicts a different aspect of time’s agency in the universe. His glance is focused on time’s merciless reshaping of forms, its jovially brutal flowing that alters patterns, changes forms, and unveils what was supposed to stay hidden. It is like if time were amusing itself in this process of constant alteration of forms, shapes, and structures.
Fagioli’s interpretation of the multifarious flow of time is never presented by the perspective of time itself. Time is a golden thread of his production, yet its presence emerges from different embodiments of its flow. Each of the works in his collection bears testimony of a flow that is hilarious from the perspective of time (and its detached observer), but grave and deceitful for the subject of its instantiation. This duality of amusement and deceit caused by time is enveloping. In “Ipocondria del maiale d’agosto” (tr. Pig’s Hypochondria in August), Fagioli depicts a lonely pig walking towards its destiny in an evoking path of inevitability and solitude. In “Daria pregna” (tr. Daria is Pregnant), a young lady flies over clouds of cotton unaware of what time will reserve to her and her child, thinking of becoming a mother without the concerns of a future which has to be written but whose overall shape is already given by time, empty and full at the same time. A different shade of this invisible action of time is in place with “Favorire l’uscita” (tr. Faciliate the Exit). The flow of time nurtures all of life, but it would be naive to believe that time leads everything towards the best or even that time cares at all. Time is amused by shaping and reshaping, like the amorph vases of crooked trees, leaning towards a sun that is again deceitful.
Photos by Bruno Bruchi
Fagioli’s encounter with time creates a perplexing dimension that also alludes to a profound rediscovery of what is lost. Such is the authenticity of the existential substratum that, like time, endures the manifold shaping of existence, yet in a rather different way. Being and time are persistent entities while the individual lives of humans, animals and plants alike are only incongruous and evanescent appearances. Time deceives us, but we deceive ourselves, too. And with hilarity, it is like if time felt compelled to break our deceiving narratives and unveil the authenticity hidden behind our self-deception. Fagioli’s creative glimpse at the bleak result of these broken narratives is awakening and disillusioned. In “Collezione Primavera-Estate” (tr. Spring-Summer Collection), fancy handbags hide their true being of burdening bricks. Time cannot be deceived, and the wealthy illusions are only burdens of self-deception. In “Panta rei” (a quotation from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus’s dictum “everything flows”), two terracotta weasels look at something that draw their attention (time itself or another deception?) without realising that their story has broken, and they are naked, covered only by some neck fur and a feathered hat expressing the materialistic delusion they are prone to and a belt-clock hinting at the breaker of all narratives. In “Pertuttuno” (tr. One-Everywhere and One-for-All) the flow of time is materialised in a reflecting circle of feathered human figures in line, whose only difference is the colour of their feathers. The passage of time is mirrored by the passage of humans, one after the other, births and deaths, generation after generation. They are – we are – just an embodiment of time and, as such, the real dimension of our existence fades away, preserved and annihilated by the overreaching subsistence of that entity.
With “Lacrime di coccodrillo” (tr. Crocodile’s Tears) Fagioli criticises the self-delusion of a perpetrator mourning his victim. A lizard in starry blue bleeds red stripes on a white space, an allusion to the American flag and the country’s contradictory behaviour in the global scene. In “Vasi comunicanti” (tr. Communicating Vessels), the human dimension and its deception are depicted by Fagioli as terracotta vases, among whose bases only one has a human face. Playing with the dual meaning of “communicating”, Fagioli unveils the absence of real communication in a world of deceiving shapes and illusions. Like vessels, we think we can fill others with thoughts and words but the other vase, the other human, has no real capability to understand anything. If humans are vessels, they will remain empty of authenticity. Finally, in “Il tempo è vicino” (tr. Time is Close), time is judge and punisher of human self-deception. Immersed in their illusions like a goldfish in a vase of planetarian shape, humans are unable to see that the vase is getting dry, and they will inevitably perish once the water nurturing their illusions is over.
The theme of vessels and their impossibility to contain what is important is also present in “Brocche” (tr. Vessels). There, vessels are made of improbable objects like pieces of paper and folded sheets showing the untenability of their supposed function, which is altered by the tricks of time. This golden thread of Fagioli’s artistic production is eminent in his other works like “Dodecacromico” (tr. Comically-Twelve-Coloured), “Fitosintesi” (tr. Phyto-synthesis), “Luna nel pozzo” (tr. Moon on the Well), “Zebriocciola” (tr. Zebra-Snail), and “Porta del Sole” (tr. Sun’s Gate). Altered shapes imply the destructuring of their function. What Fagioli tells us is that such function was destructured in the first place, and its structure was a transient dream that cannot endure and a projected illusion that do not properly exist. Far from being a detached entity, time is beyond ethics and binaries. With proud amusement, time deceives the deceivers and, by doing so, it is an incidental giver of authenticity to our lives.
About Andrea Fagioli
Andrea Fagioli was born in Siena in 1961 and trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara. Since 1980 he has been working in the fields of visual arts as a sculptor, performer and set designer, exhibiting his works in solo and group exhibitions, in public and private spaces, in Italy and abroad. As part of the scenography, he collaborates with theatrical, research and mental health organizations and companies, designing spaces, objects and stage machines. He has participated in international competitions for the realization of ideas projects in collaboration with the architectural firm de.ARK, Siena. Fagioli teaches Plastic, Sculptural and Scenoplastic Disciplines at the Liceo Artistico Duccio di Buoninsegna in Siena, Italy.