Ever heard of Fausto Melotti? Neither had I before Friday when I popped into the Estorick to see their exhibition of his work. He is apparently quite famous in Italy but not that well known here. The Melotti show is quite small, occupying only the two galleries on the ground floor but I enjoyed in. I always like discovering artists who are new to me. The permanent exhibition at the Estorick is also good and worthwhile trotting round while you are there.
Melotti's work, as displayed at the Estorick can basically be divided into two. Work on paper, often involving pastels and burn marks and usually as a study for a final sculpture, and the sculpture themselves which usually involve thin dangly pieces of metal such as the one above right which is called the Lion. You can't really see in the photo but the head is just a battered round disk in a smiley face in it. This and the floppy tail with the two balls on the end make for an absurd construction, especially when married with the name. I new when I saw this that Melotti and I were going to get on. I like an artists with a sense of humour.
This fine structure above left looks, with i thin strands of wire curving off to one side, like a waif like figure, possibly a little to fond of new romantic music, striding through the wind. The square at the top, reminiscent of the head, is in fact a mirror. You have to crouch a little to make yourself appear in it and there is no doubt something deeply psychological going on behind its construction but I just find it quite joyful.
Demonstrating the other side of Melotti's work are two sketches (above right), are they sketches? What ever they are I like them. The top one was done in memorial to a friend of his and those clutch of bamboo like sticks together with the black rain give a real sense of sadness. He has achieved here the simplicity I like in Japanese, Chinese and Korean ink paintings, of which these reminded me. The one below it, the thicker dark marks are produced by burning the paper slightly. I like the feel they give and may try doing this myself (and perhaps burn the house down in the process who knows). In the same room as these, was a much more vibrant painting with burn marks housing colourful pastel sketches. It was good, but I prefer Melotti's more monochrome works.
The second room had much more substantial sculptures in it that reminded me of Mona Hatoum (only the wire is not barbed), and I wonder if he inspired her (he lived before her). So you have these large cage like structure with these dangling slight chains on either side and in the middle (above left). They aren't attached at the bottom so sway slightly in any breeze. Contained within them are these thin wire curved shapes, and thicker metal curved shapes. They all have names like counterpoint.
My favourite piece in the whole show was somewhat smaller (above right). I wondered if it was a mock up of something bigger. It look a little like an elaborate machine, like something they would use to communicate with on Blake's 7. Again you have the dangly wires but I enjoy the various elements play of each other, with shadows falling on gauze behind those hemispheres. Also reminded me of chemistry experiments I used to do in an earlier life. I kept coming back to this one again and again.
The three slender wires, particularly when they cross over the thicker one, remind me of musical staves and I am left with the impression I am looking at the essence of an instrument, possibly two. A chello and a violin perhaps.
There were also two pendulum based pieces. If you look at the first picture in the blog you can see a large steel one, with three pendulums hanging down. If you sweep past them at sufficient speed they will oscillate for you (and pleasingly while I was there a small bird would tweet just outside the window every time I did this).
The other one is done in brass I think it is (above right) and I do like the deep browny-goldy glow of brass. Set in pairs facing opposite directions it is a very pretty and quite thing.
There were other pieces I haven't shown. It is an interesting show. It is a calmer more cerebral form of art Melotti's. It doesn't shout at you, it invites you in (for the most part) and causes you to write drivel when you think about it afterwards. After you have been round the show though go round the rest of the show. My current favourite piece in it is this one below.
Incidentally, you only have another week to see one of pieces in a show at the Indo bar. Go along. Buy it.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.