Arcangelo Sassolino

Dettaglio dell’installazione site specific per la mostra / Detail of the site-specific installation for the exhibition
Acciaio, legno, corda, pistone idraulico / Steel, wood, rope, hydraulic piston
Photo by Pamela Randon

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“Creating, I ask myself: why not try and strain the materials to the limit of their resistance? Why not force to the limit the characteristics of the matter, causing the unexpected to emerge from it as form and as sound?”

It is the specific characteristics of the exhibition hall itself that establish the parameters of the artist’s intervention. A heavy industrial piston is linked to an oil hydraulic system and set up following the longitudinal direction of the room. Another component of the work is a thick rope, a naval dockyard hawser, which traverses the entire length of the room at the height of the visitors’ eyes. The rope passes through the piston and its ends are tied around two thick wooden beams anchored between the stone doorposts of the two entrances at opposite ends of the room.

Without warning and at irregular intervals the hydraulic system is activated and starts up the action of the piston that gradually pulls the rope taut. The traction is increased slowly until breaking point is reached, but just before the irreparable happens the piston eases the tension causing the entire system to return to a state of precarious calm. The image evoked is that of a violent clamp, a vice that begins to squeeze slowly and then, without warning, releases its grip. The strain increases to the point of becoming almost unbearable, the tension heightens to a spasm, to the maximum resistance of the materials of the various components.

This play of balanced forces applies also in the relationship between the entire system and the architectural structure housing it, but above all in the relationship between the object and the spectator, who is put in a state of psychological tension and direct confrontation with the risks of the work. Everything takes place in an agonizing silence: only the faint hissing sound of the hydraulic system working the piston and the acoustic effects produced by the friction, impact or yielding of the materials are perceived.

Sassolino himself admits: “Every time I’m on a plane I wonder how much strain a wing can tolerate, knowing that sooner or later mechanical stress will cause any material to give way.” With this new work, the artist pushes himself even further in working with the awareness of risk. He is well aware that the work may not withstand the forces that the work itself puts into operation and this potential collateral damage appears to be an additional element of value in the installation, thus becoming an existential metaphor also for the concept of risk and failure.



Arcangelo Sassolino (1967, Vicenza, where he lives and works) creates works of art focusing on the interaction between a variety of different forces and materials, often of an industrial nature. After initially enrolling at the faculty of engineering at the University of Padua, following an opportunity to attend a seminar in New York for the CASIO company, for two years—between 1993 and 1995—he attended the School of Visual Arts in New York. It was from this course of studies that Sassolino’s art emerged, with works based on the fusion of art and physics. Noteworthy among the artist’s monographic exhibitions are Concrete Matters at the Galleria Grossetti in Milan, held in 2001, and Rimozione, staged at the Galleria Arte e Ricambi in Verona. Momento, realized in the spaces of the Galleria Galica, Milan, dates from 2006. The solo show at the Galerie Nicola von Senger in Zurich was set up in 2007, while in 2008 Critical Mass was held at the Galerie Feinkost in Berlin and Afasia at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. In 2010 he set up personal exhibitions such as Qui e Ora, at the Galleria Continua of San Gimignano, and Time Tomb, an installation created for the Z33 House for Contemporary Art at Hasselt in Belgium. In 2011 he produced Piccolo Animismo for the Museo di Arte Contemporanea (MACRO) in Rome, and in 2012 he participated at the Art and the City art festival in Zurich. Sassolino has taken part in numerous collective exhibitions: (2001) Materia–Niente, Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa, Venice; (2002) Autonomie, Galleria Grossetti, Milan; (2003) Mito-logica-mente, Castelbasso, Teramo; N–E, Fondazione O’Artoteca, Milan; (2004) Zilch, Associazione Culturale Arte e Ricambi, Verona; AAVV: 30, Galleria Fumagalli, Bergamo; (2005) Arte Oggi – Premio Agenore Fabbri, Göppingen Kunsthalle, Göppingen; Orange!, Galleria Galica, Milan; Il disegno della scultura contemporanea da Fontana a Paladino, Palazzo Binelli, Carrara; Per esempio. Arte contemporanea italiana dalla Collezione UniCredit, Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (MART); (2007) What You See Is What You Guess, Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain (FRAC), Rheims; (2008) Visionary Collection Vol. 6, Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich; Disarming Matter, Dunkers Kulturus, Helsingborg; (2009) Themes and Variations, Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice; Sleeper, Brown, London; Zweckgemeinschafft, Mica Moca, Berlin; Italian Open!, Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam; (2010) As Soon As Possible, Strozzina Centro di Cultura Contemporanea a Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; Videodrome, Autocenter, Berlin; Under Construction, Museum Tinguely, Basel; (2011) Broken Fall (Organic), Galleria Enrico Astuni, Bologna; Under Destruction II, Swiss Institute, New York; Artisti d’Italia, Ex chiesa della Madonna del Duomo, Arezzo; Percorsi riscoperti dell’arte italiana nella VAF–Stiftung 1947–2010, MART, Trento.


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Con la grande mostra dedicata ad Ai Weiwei (23 settembre 2016-22 gennaio 2017) per la prima volta Palazzo Strozzi diventa uno spazio espositivo unitario che comprende facciata, Cortile, Piano Nobile e Strozzina.

L’arte contemporanea esce dalla Strozzina e si espande sia a livello espositivo che di comunicazione, in uno scenario in cui Palazzo Strozzi partecipa attivamente all’avanguardia artistica del nostro tempo.

Per questo motivo le informazioni relative alla mostra Ai Weiwei. Libero e il programma di mostre e attività future dedicato all'arte contemporanea saranno consultabili direttamente al sito e sui canali social di Palazzo Strozzi.