Monday, November 26, 2012

Glass in Venice - Pino Signoretto & Bertil Vallien - Lightning on Earth

Bertil Vallien
(Venice, Italy) The prestigious Glass in Venice award was presented on Thursday, November 22 at the Veneto Institute of Science, Letters and Art to two distinguished glass sculptors, Pino Signoretto and Bertil Vallien.


Palazzo Franchetti is a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal where the the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti is located. It was erected in 1565,  nearly 450 years ago, and contains all sorts of magical information gathered by the wizards of Venice, France and Austria over the centuries. So, receiving the Glass in Venice award is sort of like getting a special recognition  from Hogwarts.

Pino Signoretto
Pino Signoretto was born in 1944 in Favaro, a small town in the Veneto. At the age of ten, he started working in a glass factory, apprenticing under such masters as Alfredo Barbini, Livio Seguso, Ermanno Nason and Angelo Seguso, rapidly rising to level of master himself.

Throughout his long career, Pino Signoretto has developed an international reputation in sculpting hot glass. Amazed audiences all over the globe have witnessed his unique ability to create with molten glass, and his mastery over the fiery material. On his second visit to Japan, he performed in the presence of the Imperial Family; his sculptures are on permanent display at the Museum of Venetian Art in Otaru. He has produced sculptures for Dale Chihuly in Seattle, Washington and taught in many schools of glass and universities throughout the United States. Signoretto has the energy of hot glass coursing through his blood, has wrestled it under control, and tamed it enough to be able to produce magnificient Earthly objects, down to the smallest detail.

Bertil Vallien was born in 1938 (which I find astonishing, since he has the energy of a man a decade or two younger) in Sollentuna, a small suburb north of Stockholm. Raised in a devoutly religious home,Vallien  felt conflicted and restricted by the faith being imposed upon him. His spiritual quest is reflected in the profound emotion contained in his sand-casted glass sculptures.

When asked, Why work in glass?, Vallien admitted it was a difficult material to work with, but "glass has qualities that no other material has." Vallien said he wanted to express what was in his head and his heart with his hands, but since it is impossible to touch liquid glass, he creates negative molds made out of sand, which gives him control. When accepting the Glass in Venice award, he said, "how touched and pleased I am to receive this prestigious prize. All over the planet when you talk about glass you say: Venice, Venice."

After the ceremony, I wandered around the Bertil Vallien exhibition Nine Rooms inside Palazzo Franchetti and was overwhelmed. I had the same emotion I felt when I first saw the work of the video artist, Bill Viola, many years ago. Both artists grasp something deeply spiritual and universal, and put their own essence of that understanding into their work. It has been a long time since I fell in love with a contemporary artist, but I fell in love immediately with Vallien. He has the magic touch.


As I passed through the Nine Rooms, I longed to touch the glass sculptures, but forced myself to resist. Then, in Room 5, where the glass boats were, an older man stroked his hands across a boat. I was pleased to see I was not the only one who wanted to stroke the glass. So I did.

Pendulum
Room 7 was filled with tall, heavy glass pendulums that almost reached to the ceiling. They were still. I wanted to start them all swinging. I was alone, so I pushed them into action. The glass was heavier than I expected, and the frames supporting the glass less sturdy. For a few moments, I was concerned that I was going to topple them all; that the entire glass pendulum room might go crashing to the floor, or worse, knock over the Murano glass chandelier hanging perilously from the ceiling. But they stood tall, swinging to the rhythm of the Earth. I thought they looked much better in motion.

PENDULUM
The pendulum, the glass, the decadence, and then, the water rises. 
A giant-like pendulum hangs above Piazza San Marco.
The pendulum invalidates time.
It is independent of the Earth's rotation.
Time is beyond life's landscape.
Eternity.

On my way out, I ran into Bertil Vallien. I told him that I wanted to stroke the glass, and that I did do it after I saw another man do it, and asked if that bothered him. (I didn't tell him about the pendulums:) He said, no, it didn't bother him; that it was okay. I said, it's strange, isn't it? That I wanted to stroke the glass, and so did all the others? He said, it's because it's tactile. I said, yes, but I've never had such a great yearning -- when it comes to marble, for example -- it is not the same. 

Anyway, it was a great honor to meet Vallien, and I told him so. And I am pleased that there is a Glass in Venice award from the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, an Institute of the highest degree. It is like an award for working with Lightning on Earth.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat


2 comments:

  1. Palazzo Franchetti is a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal where the the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti is located. It was erected in 1565, nearly 450 years ago, and contains all sorts of magical information gathered by the wizards of Venice, France and Austria over the centuries. So, receiving the Glass in Venice award is sort of like getting a special recognition from Hogwarts.

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  2. I love Venetian glass but don't know enough about it. Thanks for this post. I learned a lot!

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