by Shraddha NairMar 22, 2022
At the first glance, it may appear the motley of pieces is brought together to lend the form of a sculptural installation. Soon the eye gauges the art of threading the pieces together only to view a field where each of the objects is working towards building a self-possessed narrative. These are the installations by the Argentina-based sculptor, Leonardo Damonte. It is the intermediation between the varieties of the objects, followed by their modification that attracts the attention towards these large-scale installations. This feature of the works is even extended to the space where they are installed. The works especially with the lights play with the architecture to remove the lid from the lesser-known elements of the physical space.
Damonte is of the opinion that the light enters the work as another material, another layer, just like colour and matter. In an interview with STIR, he expounds on the usage of light in his works, “Actually, the use of light in the project sort of came about by chance. Although lighting devices hold a particular attraction, I always say that my interest in the use of light was not the result of a quest but rather a discovery. However, it quickly became more and more important, to the point of using that resource as the only building material.”
Along with the light, the element of colour has come to dominate the sculptural works of the artist. A determining factor in the initial works of Damonte, the works were built around the assembly and superposition of planes of the same predominant shade present in different objects that were chromatically related. Carrying an unmissed pictorial characteristic to the sculptures, this practice of finding coherence in terms of colour has led the artist to search for objects with a chromatic connection, quite painstakingly.
He adds, “There were even some projects where I would work with a single shade, and colour was the element that created a connection among the objects themselves and the piece as a whole. In doing so, our eye would put the scene together. I arrange the objects so that the colour of one lead straight to the colour of the next one, thus creating a whole chromatic sequence that shapes and completes the visual experience.” But over the years, the visual language of the works has shifted the focus from the colours to the visibility of shapes: the juxtaposition of the multiple objects of both similar and dissimilar geometries.
A keen observer of his surrounding, Damonte usually sow the seeds of his projects from the situations or a device that he has experienced or seen, respectively. The sculpture, Fever Dream, in a semi-circle shape is no exception. Damonte walks us through the making of this sculpture, “At a shop where I buy materials, I came across a stack of wheelbarrows. They had nothing to do with the work as we now know it, but it was that event, my reaction to how they were arranged, that led me to develop the shape. After taking some photographs, comes the second work stage: the photographic record, which, together with some sketches, gives me an initial visualisation of the shape. These stages of the process function as a guide while I make use of different means that help me get a clear picture of the general idea. It is only in the studio where I start to see how I am going to elaborate the piece. In Fever Dream, I focused on movement as a building process. Although there is no real movement, the sculpture grows there, at the place, and the construction is a register of the process. Last but not the least comes the pre-production, where the materials are analysed after a meticulous search, during which I create a sort of archive where I classify them by families of objects, by proximity within their objectual universe, by their similarity in shape, colour and size, to then reach the final stage, which is the production of the work.”
The production of such works involves a great deal of creative investment which rightly seeks the presence of the viewers to fully draw its meaning. Even if the flow of virtual space in the past one-and-a-half years has relentlessly connected the art world across the globe, Damonte opines, “They are all far from the experience of contemplation that a spectator has when standing in front of the work. We cannot talk about whether these new ways will affect the traditional ones. What we can say for certain is that these new circulation channels did not arrive to replace the ones we already know, but to coexist with them.”
Against this backdrop of co-dependency, the sculptures by Damonte, a congregation of distinct objects engaged in conversation - offers an eloquent visual language of representation - to deliberate on the inevitability of finding the thread of relationality in the environment dotted by distinctivism.