We asked Fabrizio Plessi to share some thoughts and reflections on his work, and on his forthcoming, big one-man show at the Ca’ Pesaro Museum of Contemporary Art and installation in Piazza San Marco.
L’eta dell’oro [the Age of Gold] which is planned for this autumn at Ca’ Pesaro, will be a huge, exciting, immersive show. How is the show organized? Is gold a new element in your practice, or is it a homage to the traces of Byzantium still apparent in La Serenissima?
The events at Ca’ Pesaro and Piazza San Marco are only the tip of the iceberg of years and years of work that I’ve passionately dedicated to this city. So, it won’t be my show in the same way as the hundreds of others all over the world, but an act of profound love for this reality. It will consist of a sensory journey articulated through the rhythms and the rites that this city imposes. “The age of gold” is the vertical dream to which we aspire: gold as an incorruptible material that dazzles and enchants.
The show will pay profound homage to the gold of Venice, and on a grand scale, because Venice is all golden, down to the depths of her Byzantine soul. My waters become gold so that everything in turn is reflected and is resplendent in this city’s liquid mirrors of water. It won’t be a show so much as a journey through the filigree of our thoughts and of our passions, through the magic that Venice offers to visitors encountering her for the first time. Ultimately, the golds of Venice are none other than magnesium flashes illuminating the dark and secret corners of our perception. We should remember that old age begins when regrets take the place of dreams. The age of gold encourages us to keep dreaming.
The themes of water, fluidity, and of flowing liquid are very prominent in your work. How has living in Venice influenced your flow of ideas? What’s your relationship with the city today? Is it a safe haven or an interesting observation point?
I’m a lone sailor. I’ve been navigating the ocean of art for years and it’s always stormy, but I just hold on to the helm, steer my course, and I know where I’m headed. I came to Venice in the 1950’s and I’ve never left this fascinating, magical place since. Arriving here and finding the city flooded was a sign of destiny that changed my whole life. The act of drawing in Venice is very different from the act of drawing in London, or Berlin, or New York. In Venice, the reverberations from the water enter the glass doors of my studio, and they light up my drawings, changing their outlines so that everything becomes fluid, elastic and mobile.
I’d say that Venice has been the grammar that put my language in order and corrected it. Water is an ancient, ancestral, primordial element. Video is a technological element that is bound to our time. For years, I’ve had this idea that video and water were engaged in a secret, complicit relationship, and that only in a city like Venice would it be possible for them to meld together in a way that is almost biological. Today we are living in a liquid society, and is there a city more liquid to live in than Venice? To live happily, that is?