Massimo de Caria’s work is part of a genealogy that we could ascribe to the fate of anti-sculpture: from Melotti to the present day, passing through Zorio and looking occasionally at Tinguely.
Anti-sculpture is a term that may not please, and it is used here for convenience: it is used to define those plastic researches that intentionally renounce the all round, the pondus, the asseverativity of the sculptural work, in a noble tradition that, limiting ourselves to Italy, starts from Boccioni at least, with the grafting of dynamism.
De Caria presents small works, often placed on the ground, and often reduced to the threadlike structure of a metal pole. He does not have the poetic preciousness of Melotti’s materials (or Nagasawa’s, to continue with the parade of references), indeed his could be described as Brutalist, but he does possess the same taste for the harmonious proportions between the (few) elements that make up the work. Verticality is a sort of anthropometry, it is the reference to the upright position of the human body, but it is not emphasised as elevation, as sublimation from below, on the contrary: the work is minimised, it is often visually almost nil, it is thinned to the point of being almost invisible and what is more, we have said, it takes on small dimensions to the point of blending in with the environment, not to say disappearing into it.
The anti-heroic poverty of the materials would seem to impose the absence of a title for all the works, almost as if to shy away from any temptation of a defined identity.
De Caria says that minimisation is tantamount to the search for an essence of sculpture, as if he wanted to verify the specificity of the plastic work by taking its linguistic investigation to its extreme consequences, as if the quasi-empty were to highlight the irreducible quid that makes the difference with other languages. Certainly, this examination unhesitatingly faces the opposite risk, that of losing the specific, and of opening the work to space to the point of disarticulating its constructive connections in order to analyse, by isolating it, its function.
What is most important is that the works come to life, they are not static, on the contrary they become sources, albeit attenuated, of dynamic energy. The dynamism here is not only figurative but actual, thanks to the insertion of small motors that the artist has taken from an old disused franking machine factory. Reused for artistic purposes of a now obsolete contraption, this also contributes to defining De Caria’s universe of meaning, under the banner of poverty of means, simplicity of technical applications and the genius, let us say poetic, of the results. The work takes on the feeble force, excuse the oxymoron, of mechanical movement and the slight sonority of its effects.
Everything happens in full sight, nothing is hidden: a rotating feather caresses a stone, an arched fragment of iron wire scratches a base of the same material, a sheet of isothermal paper fits, cyclically and not without effort, between two vertical metal bars, another tied to a propeller rotates so fast that it disappears from view, but produces a loud noise; a lit candle topples over as it turns, dripping molten wax and leaving traces of carbon black, a cotton ball attached to a mechanical arm touches and vibrates a metal rod…
The sculpture is mobile and produces noises where mobility and sonority, energy in action, compensate for the lack of plastic development, spatial articulation (energy in power) and minimal physicality, diffusing an immaterial echo, a development that is fully articulated in the invisible and virtual. Sometimes even in the eventual: a metal base holding a black stone has four long rods that raise it up; one, however, touches the ground and curves upwards, making the structure vibratile, which an observer can accentuate by pressing his foot on that curve, inducing instability in what should seem static and stable.
In the most recent works, sonority becomes a co-protagonist of the operation (it would be better to call it that) and becomes music, out of metaphor, it becomes a score specially created by a musician, the composer Paolo Ricci. Perhaps as a form of compensation, the music accompanies the sculpture when it is motionless, or rather when the action has already been performed and we see the signs of it in what remains (this also happens, it must be said, in the sculptures, few in number, where neither movement nor sound is involved). The ebony trunk debarked and made smooth by the many passes of sandpaper, the white metal rod thinned at the top by the file are essential and flagrant forms, limit-figures (a little more and the rod breaks), irreducible syntagmas of plastic language. The presence of music that surrounds them also makes them seem like totemic figures, presences as self-evident as they are enigmatic, capable of inducing feelings of awe, a bit like in Stanley Kubrick’s great sound monolith sequence.