Giuseppe Uncini: The Conquest of Shadows

Giuseppe Uncini, Grande muro con ombra, 1970
Giuseppe Uncini, Grande muro con ombra, 1970

Fondazione Marconi is pleased to present the exhibition Giuseppe Uncini:
The Conquest of Shadows, dedicated to works from 1968 to 1977 by the Marche artist.
The exhibition, in collaboration with Archivio Uncini, comes four years after the 2015 exhibition of Uncini’s drawings and aims to document the evolution of the artist’s long and concentrated study of shadows. The starting point was the Shadows exhibition held in 1976 at Studio Marconi, for which Uncini created Great Wall Studio Marconi MT 6, a site-specific work for the Milan gallery from the period in which Uncini decided to shift his attention from the ‘construction of objects’ to the ‘construction of the shadow’: from the physical form of the constructed object to its virtual form. From this new perspective he transformed what has always been perceived as ambiguous and fleeting into a tangible element of the artwork, something stable, both visibly and tactilely concrete. In this way light and shadow share the same standard of value and are considered equally as ‘materials’, which allowed a new, original interpretation of the artwork. This discovery, the dominant motif of Uncini’s research until the 1980s, also led him to reflect on the opposites light/shadow, full/empty and presence/absence. Thus space becomes the material of Uncini’s production and the distinction between painting and making sculpture no longer exists.
‘Up until then I thought I was and wanted to be a painter. Then this belief gradually faded. Following this, so they say, I became a sculptor. I still don’t believe it and I feel I’m between sculpture and painting and it suits me fine, I have no problem with it.’ (G. Uncini, 1998)
Due to its majesty, the Great Wall represents a key moment in Uncini’s research and marks his definitive conquest of the ‘fleeting essence’, which at this point becomes an integral part of the work itself.
‘The shadow, this fleeting essence, this negativity of an image, which is all too often ignored or overlooked, which is nearly always considered as a passive factor, an absence, at most the finishing touch of an investigation, should instead at some point constitute the centre of the artist’s investigations, not as an artifice for creating perspective or a naturalistic rendering, but to ‘shed light’ (not only metaphorically) on a substantial element of the work.’ (G. Dorfles, 1976).
The exhibition presents a nucleus of works from 1968 to 1977 to provide a comprehensive overview of Uncini’s creative production within this time frame.
The exhibition will present all the major results of Uncini’s assiduous dedication to investigating the virtual dimension of the projection of volumes: from the first Chair with Shadow and Window with Shadow (1968), to the Columns with Shadow (1969), Shadow of a Suspended Cube (1973), and Wall with Shadow T.23 (1976).These works are supplemented by a number of significant works from the Uncini Archive: Bricks with Shadow n. 12 (1969), Interrupted Wall (1971), Shadow of Two Parallelepipeds T.1 (1972), Shadow of a Parallelepiped M.29 and Shadow of Three Squares M.30 (1975).
On display beside the Great Wall will be its original cement and wood laminate maquette (1975-1976), accompanied by a number of documentary photos taken during the execution of the work and a selection of drawings from the same years, since throughout Uncini’s career drawing played a role of primary importance in planning his work.
‘In our culture, in our history, I think that drawing is our language, our way of memorising things and constructing. I believe it is very difficult to think without drawing . . . Any drawing on a paper is an instrument, a language for determining our thinking.’ (G. Uncini, 1998)