Suspense at EX3 – Contemporary Art in Florence

Yesterday it was the opening of Suspense at the EX3, the Florence center for contemporary art. The main concept of the exhibition was “suspension” with many pieces of artworks from international artists.

When I got there, the place was crowded, few tourists but many locals with that cool look that a contemporary art admirers must have. As the opening was at 7.30 pm, the “aperitivo time” (happy hour )it was a good occasion to have a drink at the EX3 Contemporary Art Cafe.

The best of Suspense

Ernesto Neto, Rio de Janeiro / Brasile – 1964

While Nothing Happens Baby, 2010

Since the late 1980s Ernesto Neto has been carrying out installations that involve and surround the spectator in a play of  interactions and relationships. The artist has always termed himself a sculptor and comments, “I like the idea that there is a vast tradition behind my artwork.” Neto creates dense spaces within which polar opposites (interior/exterior, life/art, nature/artwork) are connected in (almost always) organically-arranged structures. The term of “art-de-hierarchization” has been used to refer to his pieces and, in other words, we could say that he transforms game and play into sculpture. In Neto’s view, the artwork is complete only when it encounters the viewer. The artist is renowned for his use of synthetic (polyamid) fabrics filled with various elements such as sand, beads or spices. Spices, in particular, exponentially increase the viewer’s sensory awareness of the piece which passes from a simply visual or tactile apprehension to an olfactive one as well. Neto plays on chromatic and formal contrasts and, especially, on the duality of containment/expansion. His artworks are like living organisms, always in tension and never the same from one moment to the next.

While Nothing Happens Baby (2010) is a sculpture more than four meters in diameter, made from lycra and affixed to a single point on the ceiling. This is an in-scale model of the work carried out in spring 2008 for the inner courtyard of the MACRO museum in Rome. The sculpture is composed of protruberances filles with sand and spices (cumin, curcuma, ginger and cloves) which stretch downwards towards the ground. The whole work is subjected to a sense of gravitational tension which is rendered more extreme by Neto’s way of working. The lycra simulates skin fiber, both in its chosen color and its ability to absorb and secrete fluids. The artist has stated, “I think that everything happens on the skin, through the skin”.

Cornelia Parker, Cheshire / England, 1956

No Man's Land, 2010

Cornelia Parker employs objects of various kinds to create sculptures and installations of strong visual and emotional impact. Deprived of its primary function, the object becomes part of a set which activates the viewer’s psyche. Cornelia Parker’s is an intuitive art founded not so much on conceptual structures as on exploration of properties of the unconscious. Her artworks invite the viewer to seek the indecipherable in daily life, the unusual in the most ordinary and everyday clichés.

Parker is well-known for her large installations, where she gathered – and hung in the space – fragments of reality that defy the force of gravity. In many works by Parker, suspension questions sculpture’s static steadfastness and contributes to the process of de-monumentalizing the artwork.

No Man’s Land (2010) appears to be a hanging space of refuge, anchored to the ground thanks to a bags of lead weight. The black color of the tent and the materials employed (ragged fabbric, lead weights and metal wires) attribute an ambiguous, funereal connotation to the object. What apparently conveys an idea of shelter, in reality, a kind of trap.

Cornelia Parker brings out the negative potential which is present in each material, questioning herself about its essence and its second usage. Suspension, in Parker’s oeuvre, conveys the idea of the material’s transitory nature and the fluc within it exists; at the same time the expediment of hanging forms widens the potential meanings that can be associated with the sculpture as a whole as well as with its single parts.


Suspense -February 19th – May 8th, 2011
EX3 – Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea
Viale Giannotti 81/83/ 85 – 50126 – Firenze
Tel. (+39) 055.2347273

Open: Wed – Sun from 11.00 am to 7 pm; Fridays from 11.00 am to 10 pm.
Closed: Monday; Tuesday