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  • Osart Gallery

Five things you should know about Piero Fogliati

Piero Fogliati (1930-2016) was a polyhedric artist. He included in his work technology, light, sound, and atmospheric events. His projects deal with the spectator on a multi-sensory level, pushing his perception to the edge.

Piero Fogliati with Hermeneuts, 1988

1. He used to call his drawings "Fixations". In them, we can see projects and ideas conceived for the Fantastic City. Fogliati wasn't interested in the quality of the paper: the purpose was to record his visions and every detail of his projects. Usually, his pictures have captions that poetically describe the contents.

In the caption below, Fogliati explains the functioning of his machines for the transformation of earth noise in sound: "Sounds coming from the earth, are collected in big containers. When completely charged, sounds should spread surprisingly on the city".

Piero Fogliati, Sounds coming from the earth, 2003

2. From the Sixties on, he mixed artistic experimentation and technology.

His way to use technological elements was a revolution in the sign of fantasy, "for a global environmental reconstruction". Thanks to his technical skills, Fogliati designed sculptures that could transform the city noise into unique sound events. One of them was the Fleximophone. It was exhibited for the first time in 1970, titled Sound Sculpture. Shortly after, Arrigo Lora-Totino retitled it. It is composed of long springs, fixed on a metal plate that acts as a soundbox. The springs let the light pass through and produce both a sound and a light effect.

Piero Fogliati, Environment of Fleximophones (detail)

3. Some of his works are born thanks to the collaboration with Arrigo Lora-Totino. Since 1968 Fogliati conceived a series of works that Lora-Totino utilized in the declamation of his poems. Among them, there are the Hydromegaphone, the Liquimophone, the Word-Mincer, and the Word-taker.

They are all sculptures made in metal curved tubes, in which various liquid elements pass.

The Liquimophone, for example, is a water organ made of different resonators, maneuvered with hydraulic taps. Fogliati used to call this instrument "generator of liquid music".

Lora-Totino also gave Fogliati several suggestions about the titles of his works.

Lora-Totino and Fogliati with the Liquimophone

4. The dream of coloring rain pushed Fogliati toward new light experimentations, from the Sixties on. Among the ideas for the Fantastic city, the artist aimed to attribute to atmospheric events unexpected behaviors, that arouse stunning wonder. He never succeeded in coloring rain, but from that first idea he invented the Synthetic Light, also called Fantastic Light. This particular light can color the objects while they move, thanks to the fast succession of colors in front of the light beam. When the enlightened object stops, our eyes generate a synthesis of the colors, and the light seems white. When the object is moving, the light breaks up in her chromatic components. Fogliati utilized his Synthetic light in many following works, such as the Mechanical Prism, the Iridescent Flutterer, and the Chromokinetic detector.

Piero Fogliati, Mechanical Prism, 1972

5. Fogliati employs technology and perception mechanisms to create luminous phenomenons, interacting with our interpretation of reality. We can mention the Apparitions kiosk, exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennale in 1986: it is the only figurative light installation ever conceived by the artist. The figures (letters, words, images of objects, and people) appear and disappear rapidly in the air. They are projected on two vertical rods, suspended about 60 centimeters apart. The eyes' uncontrolled movements, called saccades movements, enable our mind to reconstruct the images in the space between the rods.

Piero Fogliati, Apparitions kiosk, 1985-1986


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