Life's Little Theatre
Guido De Zan
I don’t often get new ideas when I’m out of the workshop, far from the materials, the mess of tools on the shelves and the heat of the kiln. I only get them when I’m in there. I start looking at the pieces, the finished ones and the ones I’m working on, and the ideas come to me effortlessly. Often they’re variants on the pieces in front of me but now and again, rarely, something completely new comes up.
I think one reason, certainly, for this way of working slowly, step by step, is the technical constraints of the material. But it also has to with my needing to understand where I’m headed, and with a certain degree of nervousness over what might happen further down the road.
To begin with I worked on rounded vases, thrown on the wheel. Then there came the slabs, and gradually vase and sculpture both took on sinuous or geometric shapes, no longer round but elliptical in section. They became figures with an anthropomorphic imprint, a well-defined physicality and physiognomy. These figures joined with others to form groups, teatrini – little theatres in which they could converse and be mutually supportive. Where they have maintained their self-possession they evoke urban structures which, taken together, form landscapes, and here, too, they seem to seek mutual proximity, as if to lend each other strength in a world that is perhaps too vast for them.
I have the feeling that direct communication between human beings is growing ever more laboured and exhausted, allowing the kind of stereotyped, invasive communication carried by the media to proliferate in its place. If we have to talk of our experiences to each other, we tend to do so indirectly, choosing neutral subjects and registers. Curiosity about others is deteriorating into gossip. The person we’re talking to is downgraded to a spectator of a narcissistic tale. This is perhaps one of the reasons why my characters are beings born to live in a couple, a family or community; to encounter others, approach them genuinely, tell their stories and be open to spiritual exchange.
Perhaps this desire of mine is nothing other than the mirror of my own contradictions – on the one hand the need for solitude, silence, so as to be able to capture what comes from within me, but on the other the need to be with others, drawing on their warmth and not becoming detached from reality.
My characters have found an equilibrium, albeit a precarious one. I am pleased when people interpret this state as lightness and serenity, with just the right amount of irony to keep us alive.