Materiam superabat opus
Ovid Metamorphosis, Book II, 5
The status of metamorphosis, as artistic, literary, musical or cinematic subject matter, is attested by a long list of examples, some very ancient, others nearer to us today, From Ovid to Kafka, from Richard Strauss to Philip Glass, without even counting the innumerable instances in painting and cinema - which have given rise to a rich iconography of myth and folklore - the theme of metamorphosis cannot be called simply a topos or a leit-motif. Rather, it belongs in full to that timeless, spaceless category in which are located the founding myths of human thought and creativity. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that an elegant and reflective artist like Andreas Senoner had decided to follow such a path, oriented toward the incessant transformation of the things of this world and governed by their same unpredictability. First and foremost, metamorphosis is the domain of sculpture: no one more than the sculpture, by definition, can change material from one form to another, especially when that material is wood (“the soul of my work” says Senoner, who calls it a “living” material). Moreover, Senoner has accustomed us to an art - his own - which transfigures the classical in the unconventional, making of wooden anthropomorphic sculpture - a solemn and ecclesiastical language - the expression of desire for play and exploration. Not by chance, his work is surprisingly far from the most common kind of metamorphosis linked to Greek mythology, to the transformation of man in animal, of of man in fantastic or legendary creature. His path takes inspiration, instead, from the theory formulated by the Austrian artist and architect, Friedrich Hundertwasser, that mankind has five layers or skins: epidermis, clothes, home, social context, terrestrial environment, that is, Earth. Each work speaks of how man’s life is conditioned by the constant mutations of his other skins, which here take on different, more poetic, shapes, like the glass bell of Deep Sleep or the mask of At Home. At other times, the artist’s reflection is not focused on change per se, but rather on the waiting that precedes it, as in Forget Me Not, in which the figure’s isolation, curiously seated in mid-air on a wall, symbolizes waiting for a collocation in society. Unique, both in themselves and in Senoner’s production, are the sculptures that represent only parts of the body (Metamorphosis) or their bizarre combinations (Shapeshifter).
Even in the heterogeneity that is proper to change, this exhibition illustrates a homogenous path, fruit of a meticulous work of reflection and execution, which, paraphrasing Ovid, outstrips the object of its enquiry in refinement and beauty.