Gilberto Zorio at Blain|Southern

by Chantal

Gilberto Zorio at Blain Southern

Gilberto Zorio at Blain Southern

The current show at Blain|Southern is an outstanding one. Gilberto Zorio’s exhibition brings together early works with new site-specific commissions in his first UK show in five years. The gallery space resonates with an unasumming alchemy as we see works that make use of crystallisation, conductivity and sound loops. Zorio’s practice was a key exponent of the Arte Povera movement in Italy in the mid-1960s and his materials reflect the culture of industrialism prevalent in his time – leftover metal, chemical, cement and copper. Humble materials that opposed the traditional high value materials associated with high art at that time.

Gilberto Zorio at Blain Southern

Gilberto Zorio at Blain Southern

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Gilberto Zorio at Blain Southern

Despite materials that reference industry his work transcends social and cultural associations and enters the realm of the poetic.

My favourite work in the show was Leads II (1968). In this work we see the transformational properties of copper sulphate and hydrochloric acid as two sheets of formed lead hold the shimmering pools of blue and yellow within this active art object.

two sheets of lead, similar to precarious beds, collect the sediments and solidifications of shimmering copper sulphate.

Gilberto Zorio at Blain|Southern

Throughout the exhibition we see many of the motifs that are recurrent in his work – the star (a symbol of Venus which reflects his interest in alchemy and otherworldliness), the canoe (representing forward motion, conquest and the desire to dream), and the javelin (whose design he described as having perfected absolute beauty).

The show has an active life force running through it. At intervals electric discharges within works such as Voltaic Bow (1968) trigger light flashes and jarring white noise. Every 15 minutes the gallery is plunged into darkness which activates a black suspended canoe to start rotating while UV light reveal the phosphorous constellations glowing green across the walls. Microphones allows for the viewer to actively engage with the work by recording their voices which are then echoed back to them via an auditory loop reverberating throughout the space.

This is an exhibition that engages you directly from the moment you enter its presence and stays with you long after you have left. Highly recommended.