From 4 October 2013 to 6 January 2014, GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo is proud to host Luciano Fabro. Disegno In-Opera, an exhibition aimed at showcasing the varied corpus of drawings by Luciano Fabro.

Staged in collaboration with the Centro Italiano Arte Contemporanea in Foligno, which will host the show from 15 February to 13 April 2014, the exhibition will bring together – for the first time in Italy – an extensive series of drawings by the artist, one of the leading representatives of the “Arte Povera” movement. These works show unique autonomy and great freedom even with the respect to the discipline itself, and are an integral and essential part of Fabro’s oeuvre.
The exhibition is thus an unprecedented opportunity to discover a little-known side of an artist who played a fundamental role in the history of art and culture in the late twentieth century and at the beginning of the new millennium.

The exhibition route features more than 100 drawings that, as the title of the exhibition suggests, reflect different types and functions. Indeed, they are not strictly preliminary drawings for finished works, but were intended as the practice underlying the creative process that leads to the genesis of an idea, and as a medium to convey messages; they are drawings with an explicit reference to sculpture, but they also serve as a way to investigate and experiment. And there are drawings as forms – with holes and openings – through which Fabro probed and entered the space opened up by Lucio Fontana, who was a point of reference for most young artists at the time.

These works, spanning more than forty years, present autonomous signs; they are exercises investigating these signs, which Fabro drew and gave away to friends and relatives. Indeed, it is Fabro’s generosity that provides one of the keys to interpreting the drawings on display, which in some cases belong to private individuals who received them as a gift from the artist, such as Cantare cantando (1994) and Concetto Spaziale (Descrizione) (1967), which on the back bears the words “buon ‘68. Luciano”: a gift offering best wishes for the new year. They are works that talk about human relationships, friendship, ethics, ourselves and others, because – as Giacinto Di Pietrantonio notes in the exhibition catalogue – “with Fabro, the private also pertains to the public realm”.

For Fabro, disegnare was a term extending from word to image to thought; it is the iconography and the path he always sketched out in his approach to work. The drawings in the exhibition are executed on a wide variety of supports (from the index cards used in library card catalogues to sheets of graph paper, and from Fabriano paper to straw paper), employing different techniques and media: drawings with text alone – with ethical overtones – and rhyming phrases accompanied by a dedication or by poems/nursery rhymes; collage drawings such as Autoritratto (1967), on paper with a grid of fine lines, in the middle of which Fabro has glued a tiny photograph of his face. Three-quarters of his face is illuminated and the other quarter, set in shadow, is looking at us; his left eye examines us, creating a questioning iconography.
The drawings also evoke kinetic art to some extent, but without presenting the characteristics of a geometric-mathematical relationship typical of Programmed Art. They are drawings composed of both solids and voids, weight and lightness, positive and negative, space and non-space, and they are thus ambivalent.

The environmental dimension plays a key role in Fabro’s research. In fact, space is conceived as a living field of action composed of relationships and necessary consequences among the elements involved. Consequently, in addition to his drawings, the exhibition will also feature a selection of large works – both sculptures and habitats – that dialogue with space, investigating the environment and intervening in perception. These works include Struttura ortogonale (1964), composed of a tubular brass grid in which the cross-bars are cut in half in the middle, and Passi. I miei passi hanno bucato il cielo. I miei passi hanno bucato la terra. Io sono zoppo (1994), a twelve-metre banner with the title of the work written in Japanese ideograms. The artist defined the latter work as “a portrait of the ambitions of contemporary man and his results. Whichever way he has gone, he has made holes, he has ‘botched things up’, and his civil advancing is quite lame.…”
The exhibition also features Svizzera Portafogli (2007) and the works for the Computer series that, while made with heavy materials (iron, steel, uprights for metal shelving, brass and aluminium chains), convey a sense of great lightness. In effect, suspension and movement are key themes for Fabro and we also find them in his drawings: the intersection of the grids in Habitat 1962 generated brass rings that evoke the Dindolo, dondolo drawings (1995) on display, in which the artist strives to juxtapose the straight line and the curved line with the way each develops in space, seeking a sign that can fluctuate within it.