press release

Gilberto Zorio belongs to a generation of Italian artists who in the mid 1960s pioneered a radical and distinguished artistic movement which later became known as Arte Povera. Through the use of often modest and humble materials, these artists posed profound questions about the very nature of human existence.

This will be Zorio's first solo exhibition in the UK and will include new installations made specifically for Milton Keynes Gallery's spaces combined with works that trace the historical points of his practice. A large star made from a tower of bricks will fill the central gallery; Zorio regularly constructs such stars, each one is unique to the space in which it is sited. To the viewer the construction of the star only reveals itself as they navigate the towering elevations. Inside these structures is a 'secret place' – the viewer can peer through gaps in the bricks to a space filled with flickering light and florescent phosphorus spatterings. Historical work will include Pelli con resistenza (1968) which Zorio regards as his first artwork, Cerchio di Terracotta (1969), Fluidità radicale (1970) and Stella di giavellotti (1974).

Energy, through the use of elemental forces, is essential to Zorio's work and is addressed in many ways, from the near invisibility of oxidisation and its effect on copper to the ferocious heat of metal welding. Zorio's use of different metals such as lead, copper and steel connects his work to a lineage of historical and primordial forms of creative expression. "Metalworking is something that is profoundly related to the history of art and to human history. Copper is a conductor – it is the metal of Venus – Iron is strength and is the metal of Mars". (Gilberto Zorio)

In his work, Zorio takes on the role of the alchemist, physically transforming materials through chemical and mechanical processes. In Zorio's art these processes are not only exposed to the viewer – there is no hidden magic – but the viewer becomes participant in the choreography that he creates.

Zorio's constant is the ancient symbol of the five pointed star, which he has etched into concrete, constructed in steel and clay and formed in glass and Perspex. Through his appropriation of the star, Zorio moves beyond the conventional associations of material, elevating his work to a cosmic status. He offers the viewer a passage taking one from the laws of physics and rationality to that of otherworldliness.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue and a related events programme.

Please be aware there will be strobe lighting during this exhibition.

Exhibition supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, the Italian Cultural Institute, Kemco and Tarmac.

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Gilberto Zorio