Pinuccio Sciola

San Sperate (CA), 1942 - Cagliari, 2016
Michelangelo would make the human figure emerge, agitated by a vital and energetic motion, lying imprisoned in a defenseless block of marble, a metaphor of the Neoplatonic conception of the soul  being imprisoned in the physicality of the body. In the same way, Sciola renders a material as rough and harsh as natural stone, ethereal like a melody, making it emit a chant, an expression of the ancestral soul enclosed in the layers of its leathery shell.
“It’s as if I were thousand years old…”, is a phrase Sciola often likes to repeat. The Sardinian artist possesses a millenary sensitivity, as ancient as the telluric upheavals of the earth, as its geological eras, an innate talent, capable of bringing to the surface the “lithic memory” - from the Greek λίθος (stone) - in the form of an imposing and deep sound, generated by the cavities of basalt, trachyte, granite, sandstone and volcanic stones; it is a primordial sound, as ancient as lava flows and magmas that have imprisoned it in these materials for million of years.

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The artist makes it re-emerge from them, transforming the stones into majestic musical instruments endowed with a marvelous aesthetic, architectural and plastic-sculptural quality: the Pietre sonore, which represent the most intense and refined results of the mature season of Sciola’s artistic career, begun in the fifties in the field of plastic experimentation. His transitory intervention pushes the sculpted material to ignite its natural acoustic device with sonic vitality, adding itself to the millennial upheavals of the earth, to the continuous biological renewal of the matter that takes place in nature.

Gently caressing the audio-tactile surfaces of his sculptures with his bare hands or brushing them with his stone picks, Sciola induces them to vibrate the deep fissures he has imprinted inside them to generate sound waves.
With the wisdom of a millenary luthier, he uses the chisel to carve grooves that define thin perpendicular elements, capable of flowing like the strings of a harp, turning into thin combs where sound waves infiltrate; or three-dimensional orthogonal grids, chessboards tormented by stepped grooves that rise and fall with an irregular rhythm, cuts marked in geometric grids with deep differences in level and finely chiseled knurls.
During the creative elaboration, the artist relieves immemorial times of natural and human experiences, he brings back to life the process of the creation of stone: the song of basalt goes back to the times in which fire has shared it, while that of limestone recalls the flow of water that, aggregating, has forged it. His works are geologic traces of the origin of the world that bring back to life the time of a nature that preceded civilization, in its ancestral dimensions of the incalculable time of the origin of the world.
The rhythm of full and empty spaces defined by the cracks of his works defines new spaces of sound architecture, the harmony of the proportions of the orthogonal cuts marks the surface of these sonorous instruments and the severe and archaic contrast between the lines of the cuts creates a register of polyphonically superimposed places. All this generates a musical harmony that blends with the natural or architectural landscape of the cities where his primordial “menhirs” are placed, stimulating various modes of multi-sensory perception that lead the viewer to interact with his sculptures in the fullness of an intense relationship. Because of this fusion of sound, tactile, visual perception and action, his production fits into the Wagnerian vision of the total work of art. In his open-air theaters and megalithic gardens, the most varied dimensions of sensory dialogue with the public open up.
Through the cracks imprinted by the artist, liquid sonorities, hoarse whispers, the voice of a primordial time that is reunited with contemporaneity, in an unprecedented union between nature and culture, artifice and technique, flow from the deep and secret bowels of the stone-sculptures. This is why the barren and harsh landscape of Sardinia in San Sperate, the artist’s motherland, the vital flux of his imagination, never abandoned, is configured as an epic dimension where he has chosen to erect his sound monoliths, his creative laboratory. This is because it bears intact the signs of the culture of prehistoric civilizations, such as the menhir, monolithic megaliths erected in the Neolithic as a tribute to the fertility of the earth.
In the seventies and eighties, megaliths, an eminent cultural characteristic of Sardinia, became the fulcrum of Sciola’s imagination, who has already consolidated his training as a sculptor in the sixties during his training trips to Europe, coming into contact with masters of the calibre of Aligi Sassu, Giacomo Manzù, Fritz Wortruba and Henry Monroe. His research takes a precise anthropological direction after the travels that led him to enter into contact with the primitive cultures of Central America and Africa, characterized by a strong affinity towards the search for a “primitive expression” that extends the iconographic and cultural landscape of his art to a supranational horizon of menhirs, domes, tombs, cyclopean walls, pyramids, ziqqurat, where you can easily go from the sculpture of the Protomediterranean to the similar creations of Mexico and Bolivia. This intense journey leads the artist to probe the fundamental principles of the universe form; here then appear the Steli in trachyte, decorated with spiral geometric motifs that recall the symbolism of the pre-Columbian civilizations long studied during his travels in Mexico and Peru, or the wooden Sculture with barely sketched anthropomorphic features, where the formal essentiality recalls that of African tribal sculptures.
Passing through the experimentation of various expressive languages, Sciola goes in search of the aspect that unites the archetypal cultures of the Earth and he does so through a progressive formal reduction that begins in the nineties and culminates in the abstract and minimalist dimension of the Pietre legate, blocks of trachyte on which he imprints subtle incisions that seem to harness the pulsating  soul of the rocky material.
It vibrates under the millenary stratifications waiting to manifest itself in the form of a harmonious sound, as it will happen with the first Pietre sonore in 1995-1996.
In the microcosm of the crystallized magmas of the basalts of the monumental monoliths and of the columnar Steles with vertical and tapered shapes of the Ninties, Sciola rediscovers the infinite nastiness of the universe, and of it constellations, because they preserve in their recesses the memory of their painful genesis: from incandescent lavas to lumpy cooled mixtures. With his geometric engravings, the artist brings back to life the vital process of creation, recreating the cracks shaped by the flow of water or the passage from the fluid to the solid state of volcanic magma. While probing the sidereal origins of basalt, after having allowed a glimpse of the primordial matrix of the stone though deep fissures, Sciola unconsciously began the process that would lead hi, to give it a voice to express his spirituality and that reaches its apex with the Pietre sonore, capable of making the material sing by making sound slide through regular and deep incisions.
The seeds of Peace are born from these premises, embryos pregnant with fertile living matter that emerge from the cracked edges of rocky peels, split by central fissure, a stone nucleus waiting to generate other stones, with the completion of fertilization, the renewal of matter and life itself.
So he, born a peasant, tied to the cultural tradition of his land, renews the ancestral rite of fertilization, cultivating the “seeds” of his art in the womb of the same land: under a large fig tree he has scattered, like seeds capable of germinating, the Seeds of Peace, to form the small garden of stones at the end of the small road that leads, through narrow streets of the country, in his monumental garden of San Sperate. In this cleaning at the top of a small plateau with the Gulf of Cagliari behind and the Campidano at the foot, its stone giants - the shield stones, the Mondrian slabs, the musical trunks and the pierced ears of corn - rest among olive trees and pickle pears, like fragments of a nuragic past, capable, however, of dematerializing in a supernatural sound, thanks to the simple and ineffable breath of the wind that crosses their chasms.