Patronage in the art world has been an establishment for centuries. Popes, emperors, aristocrats and men of power have always been having artists in their residences in a symbiotic relationship where they sponsored each other, the former maintaining the artist, the latter creating masterpieces for the patron.
It is now also affirmed that the true patrons of the 21st century are companies and businesses, which have increasingly approached art, making it an integral part of their public image and their investments. This happens in the most various forms. We can easily come across the financing of important restorations, such as the one of the Rialto Bridge in Venice by OTB and the patron of Diesel, or in the creation of organizations with the aim of discovering and promoting emerging artists, including Fondazione Prada and its numerous exhibitions, rather than that of maintaining and taking care of collections that are among the most important in the contemporary art world, such as, for example, the Pinault Collection, a holding company that manages the artistic assets of the homonymous entrepreneur mainly between Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana (in Italy, and which last fall opened the new Parisian exhibition venue of the Bourse de Commerce).
We can therefore state that the operations of private companies not only walk the stage of the contemporary art scene, but come to lay down the rules and guide its path. The communication assigned to artistic choices becomes a way to give a further perspective to the image of the company through a recognition of the value of art itself. The storytelling that arises thanks to these operations takes the symbiosis between art and industry to the next level.
Within this context of research and synergy stands Ultravioletto, an innovative project curated by Sonia Belfiore that promotes the most interesting artistic researches on the national scene. This is an unusual and more developed type of patronage in the form of a real collaboration between company and artist. In fact, both actively participate in the production of the work of art, combining the materials and the technical and industrial knowledge of the first with the sensitivity and artistic creativity of the second.
As a first step, the company and the artist choose each other for a community of intentions and objectives, so that immediately an interesting and stimulating dialogue aimed at the production of the final work arises. From now on, the Italian enterprise starts to be told with the words of contemporary art, promoting at the same time the work and the research of the artist himself. Ultravioletto is a short-term residence in which the company’s spaces become the new creative laboratory of the artist, who is introduced to the techniques and materials of the host company, testing them himself.
The contrast is enormous: the seriality and mechanics of industrial production become the starting point for the creation of a work shaped by the creativity and artistic research of someone completely out of context. Unlike the patronage we are used to see, in this case the collaboration is total and essential for the creation of the final product. It merges together two worlds that are often separated, bringing technical skill and practical know-how to the artist and telling the story of materials and company in an innovative and creative way.
What is ultimately left is a work of art in two copies, one owned by the artist and destined to be displayed to the public in shows and exhibitions, and the other owned by the company and exposed in its spaces, dialoguing with its everyday life. In this way, the industrial work space is enriched by artistic installations and at the same time, through the circulation of the second copy of the artwork, it is represented, narrated and discovered outside its local reality.
The project, launched in 2021, already sees three accomplished partnerships that serve as manifestos and evidence of its efficacy.
The first one is by Federico Cantale x VENETIAN GOLD. The reference material of this company is stone, of which they aim to enhance the natural beauty by taking care of all its working phases, from the extraction and selection of blocks, to the planning of the cut, up to the final laying; Federico Cantale, instead, is a young artist who takes his inspiration from everyday life to create suggestive works at the same time familiar and perturbing. The final work, Felina, is an austere and mystical black cat made with a series of overlapping slabs of Fantastic Black granite, an exclusive material of the company, whose features and beauty he managed to enhance in an elegant and refined work.
The second work is Sffsssshh, born from the collaboration of Giulia Poppi x Plastopiave. The company is a leader in the field of plastic containers in various sectors, while the artist carries on a research strongly based on synthetic materials and on their tactile characteristics and interaction with space and light. Just from one of these, the virgin PETG, a raw industrial material that serves as a basis for the creation of other special products, Giulia Poppi was charmed, being able to see in the plastic granules an unexpected preciousness and communicative power. So she created an environmental installation that moves plastically in the company’s spaces, showing itself to the visitor as a unique organism that embraces the surrounding environment, using light to shape itself in a new way.
The last work comes from the residence of Nicole Colombo x Nord Resine. The factory supplies a wide range of industrial and decorative resin-based waterproofing systems, while the artist has often been involved in imagining new decontextualized narratives in different spaces where she creates and inserts avatars. The work born from this collaboration is a huge curly lock of black hair in carbon fiber that refers to the mythological character of Lilith, a woman with long hair, and an erotic and disturbing power as she is a symbol of a disruptive emancipation, a parent and a carrier of misfortune: her figure is often linked to natural phenomena and surrounded by a disturbing yet fascinating aura in its fluid and sinuous movement, like a curly ringlet. Such femme fatale in the synthetic fiber sanctions its dichotomous nature between the industrial world and the organic one as a basic element of the latter.
Ultraviolet therefore proposes to connect realities that are usually completely different, leading to a contamination between the two worlds that is extremely prolific and fruitful. It pushes us to an unprecedented vision of art; in an age where we are now used to live with industrial production and commercialization of works, this project proposes that the two are not simply united by a pure communicative expedient, but together they undertake a process that leads to the creation of unique and unconventional situations.
For sure it is interesting to follow the evolution of this project to observe, as times goes by, how the different combinations between artists and firms can lead to completely new results. So let’s keep our eyes open on the next collaborations: this week has begun the residence of Caterina Morigi at Masutti Marmi & Graniti, company specialized in ceramics and natural stones, while in September we will see Alice Ronchi at Tecnodinamica, an international leader firm in the design and realization of machines and systems for the processing of Polyester foam (EPS).