“SEVEN PARAGRAPHS ON DAVIDE ZUCCO”S “DEEP TIME””
Text by Marco Antonini
Written on the occasion of the solo show at NURTUREart. New York 2016
The cosmos and its many objects, textures, shades of black, gold and blue must have felt pretty crazy from a pre or proto technological perspective. So much so that, across cultures and geographies, any history of making sense of that immensity, ordering it in schemes and grand narratives, should be remembered as much as a history of the universe (as imagined in a particular place and time) as part of a larger, genuinely universalist and deeply subconscious pursuit. Wherever art, belief and scientific method coexist, new cosmic narratives and representations emerge, compete, overlap.
The visible cosmos has no dark side but in our imagination and in documents produced by technology so far removed by our average understanding of its raison d'être that they fall flat; dead on our lap as most technology, these days. In our 2015, I often look at the moon and see a face, and so do billions of other human beings. It has soft features, an unnaturally rounded visage that would be monstrous among the rest of us, dwellers of the thinly layered strata of the biosphere. Some see the moon as more on the feminine side but who can really tell? It certainly displays humanoid features, similarly to one of those cloud formations photographed at just the right time and angle, when a crooked smile, tribal mask or sharp profile are there. Just for a while.
I first saw Davide Zucco’s work in his Bushwick studio a couple of years ago. It offered a refreshingly tangible connection to a cosmos too big to represent, too empty to inspire action or thought on our insignificant Earth. Zucco dwells in a symbolical cave lit by signs and symbols, haunted by mythical imagery and folklore as much as by personal narratives and memories. His paintings, drawings and sculptures (presenting dramatic shifts in intensity: one as thin and frail as spiderweb, the other stretching its muscles over the facade of a remote hiking shelter in the Italian Dolomites...) were in and of another time.
The scientific notion of deep time refers to the time scale of geologic events preceding humanity. The “discovery” of prehuman time in western science is credited to James Hutton (1726 1797). A timeline so infinitely extended before and after humanity’s passage can bring the most vivid imagination to the point of paralysis.
Deep Time, Davide Zucco’s first New York solo exhibition, presents a remarkably cohesive body of work. Metal surfaces transitioning from tarnished to polished, flowing over structurally rigorous, symbolic drawing and composition. Sweeping gestural inserts, striated by finely detailed plumes inspired by the kaleidoscopic patterns found in petrified wood. Where lush,prehistoric forests used to be, thickets of splintered matter reveal a psychedelically colorful core. Inside Zucco’s weave, millions of years accumulate in dense, layered abstraction. Roughly treated surfaces suggest aggressiveness and violence, contrasting with the subtle lines and delicate structures defining a unique vocabulary of archetypical shapes and symbols.
Mining collective subconscious cosmologies, Zucco’s use of industrial materials connect the impossibly remote moods of crystallized prehistoric time to the historically tangible decay of urban ruins. His works foreground autonomous, never ending processes of creative destruction, energy flows permeating life in a timeless continuity, transcending the historical forms of human expression while reconnecting us to the universe via mediated experience and reflection, evoking a mood we can all directly experience by raising our eyes to the sky for a moment.
On a clear night, when we can catch a glimpse of it, the moon we can see (high in the sky or creeping its way up through the clouds and the rooftops) is forever smirking back. And so are the stars. Flickering. Possibly dead and gone, millions of years ago. Taken in via a pair of human eyes, the whole universe is a triumph of inner space over deep space. Such internalized notions of evidence, translated and flourished ad libitum by conscious and unconscious processes of visual and cultural metabolization, become human matter, leaving the cosmos and entering our shared experience and existence.