Michelangelo Pistoletto, regenerating society through art

Michelangelo Pistoletto tells us about Il Terzo Paradiso, currently his main artistic focus.

Maestro, what are you working on at the moment?
I am working on some Quadri Specchianti (‘mirroring paintings’) for several exhibitions I have scheduled. I am mostly developing the subject of Il Terzo Paradiso (‘the Third Paradise’), a project based on regenerating society through art. Besides me, the initiative involves Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, which I founded in the early ‘90s with the aim of making art interact with all society’s sectors. It is a laboratory of responsible change extended to the whole civil society.

What message would you like to convey with Il Terzo Paradiso?
Il Terzo Paradiso symbolizes the application of the Theoreme of Trinamics to ecology, which I have defined following specific scientific methods. This symbol connects the first paradise (the natural one) with the second paradise (the artificial one) to create a third paradise, Il Terzo Paradiso. As I just said, this symbol is directly derived from the Trinamics formula, which consists of a line that intersects itself twice and traces three consecutive circles. The two side circles represent elements in opposite positions, while the middle circle is the empty space where these opposite elements connect to create a third one, which was not there before. The third circle is the formula of creation, which combines, conjugates and blends all separate, different and opposite elements.

The existing universe is a constant creation that happens through the connection of different elements. When hydrogen and oxygen unite, for example, water is made; the positive pole on one side and the negative one on the other generate electric energy in between; the male on one side and the female on the other unite to give birth to a person that was not there before. This is why this is the symbol of existence in all its forms.

A powerful symbol, Maestro. Creation, but balance as well?
If considered as a transposition of Trinamics, Il Terzo Paradiso is the basic symbol of creation, but it also represents balance. Beware, though, as the same system also generates the monster; we should thus put the monster in one circle and the virtue in the opposite one, then connect them in the middle circle to balance them.

At this unprecedented moment in history, society suddenly finds itself confronted with the desolation that the lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic have caused. This time of global arrest lays before us all developments of the human intelligence up to modern science and technology, which have made it essential and urgent to reach a balance between science and nature, in order to establish an harmonious relationship between the past and the future.
Il Terzo Paradiso thus becomes an active symbol in every way, and in every sector – from economy to politics, from fashion to architecture, from education to behavior. All elements making up society are called to connect in a new, balanced way, in order to benefit from the devastating experience that we are now living.

What can art do to support society at a time like this?
Creativity is inherent in humankind; animals and insects act on instinct, whereas humans act and arrange things artificially. The word “artifice” has “art” as its root, which means that art is basically responsible for every action made by humankind. Even dealing with politics and economy is a creative operation. Artists turn creativity into evident creations.
In the 20th century, artists obtained unprecedented individual freedom and independence. I think that artists should now use their freedom to take responsibility for everyone in the society.

Your production still strongly focuses on mirrors.
At present, my work is born from mirroring paintings, and the Trinamics formula is also derived from these.
The mirror, which is the basis of my paintings, is infinity, it is the place where images are both born and die. Any image in a mirror only lasts for a brief moment; it was not there before, and it will not be later. This change expands infinitely.
The Trinamics formula is born from the mirror. The formula comes from a reconfiguration of the mathematical symbol for infinity, graphically consisting of a line that intersects itself tracing two circles. This circle represents finitude, which is the duration of life, at the center of infinity. We keep seeing ourselves in the mirror because we have our own duration, which is always changing, never static. Creation happens constantly.

What exhibitions are you planning for the future?
We are waiting for social distancing to be over so that visitors can freely attend exhibitions. Among others, we had planned one in New York and one in Moscow, which we are waiting to open. I should also present a solo exhibition of mine in September in Italy, at the Galleria Continua in San Gimignano.
If possible, I will be in Lugano in September at Galleria Stein to showcase some of my most recent Quadri Specchianti for the inauguration of the gallery’s new space.

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