It is from this balance, continues Gaston Bachelard, that the feverish vivacity of the artist's hand comes alive. A hand that, as Carlo Zauli does, I would say with tectonic vigour, overcomes what Jean Paul Richter considers the captivity and passivity of touch and, thanks to the imagination of the depths of substance, possesses the poems of the "prime" qualities of matter. Overcoming "tactality" means denying the pure and simple "use" of materials in order to literally listen to the almost abysmal and arcane "breath" of substances, bringing to the surface, thanks to a "deep porosity", the structure of that raw material that is the earth and its ideal mixtures. But we need to say that in Zauli's research there is an often shocking radicality: the exploration of the artist's relationship of encounter and clash with the imaginary of matter as such in the specific qualitative articulations of the various substances. An investigation that we could consider almost "scientific", "experimental" to demonstrate the non-passivity, the creative non-inertia of matter itself with its docility or its resistance; but the need, therefore, to find the pertuosities or, better, "a portal of access" to its "other" dimensions, to arouse its potentiality of existence, "[...] to capture the invisible natural forms that breathe and intend to come to the surface and want to be' (Carlo Zauli). Who adds: "[...] I am a man who loves a "lump" of clay and who wants to vitalise it, slowly give it form, more life, exalting and reordering its infinite rhythms and mysterious tensions that are hidden in it".


Even to the most unfamiliar of neophytes, it is evident that his stoneware 'sculpture', whatever the outcomes and glaze coatings he decides to adopt, is fundamentally conceived through 'folds', 'fractures', 'deformations', 'accumulations' and 'juxtapositions' in which 'emptiness' and 'shadows' emerge as elements of dramatisation of form and indispensable vehicles of spatiality.

If one wonders about the reasons, as some have felt the need to do, for the interest of the Japanese in Zauli's art and vice versa, for what - together with the many trips, exhibitions in major Japanese museums, prizes received and presence in important Asian collections - is a timely indication, it is not difficult to assume that this attraction derives precisely both from the formal essentiality derived from the elaborative gestures, not lacking in daring decisions prior to the introduction of matter into the fire, and from the consideration of the 'void' under the aspect of 'fracture' or something else in the final conception of the work.

Bruno Corà

A beautiful photograph by Antonio Masotti shows Zauli, in 1975, seated on an expanse of sod and meditating, gazing lovingly at the earth. Here is, beyond all intellectual rigmarole, the point. The artist and his material, his earth in the full spectrum of the meanings of expression, are one, not conventionally united by an indissoluble identity. Art is the distilled manifestation of this identity. Zauli can accept to face this new condition of design blindness, of fabrility that discovers itself in the fullness of making, precisely because the technical premises of the discipline are firm, very firm. If, in other words, he can mature the choice of relying on the experiential plenitude of the process, it is because he never runs the risk of becoming a prisoner or succubus of it. And he discovers, he discovers a lot in these years: which are those of the Upset, the Flexuous, the Clods, all emblematic titles. Through expressive bets and decantations, through intuitions and reflections, Zauli comes to understand that matter asks for forms, because they are daughters of his intimate behaviour.


Fortunately, something has been changing in recent years, in the young generation, but not only. Above all as regards the art-nature relationship, Zauli's primary one, even if today often with accents of mutual hostility, absent in the Faenza artist's own sculptures (the Exploded Dice, the Upset Vases, from the second half of the 1970s) in which the primitive formal control is agitated, violated, not however suppressed. It remains subtended, in tune with the natural order, not only and always idyllic and serene, but, since then, often tormented, agitated, in a precisely natural dimension, which is then that of man, of his feelings, of his destiny.


Zauli's sculpture is visceral. You feel it from within. At such a level that one feels the need to trust the artist and surrender to him. His powerful, sweeping volumes interact with the eyes and the mind, releasing to the viewer a wide range of sensual pleasures, which come from the dance the viewer performs with the objects as the eye moves over their complex forms. (...) In doing so, Zauli manages to impart an order to time and space.


Zauli does not ask what artistic form should be introduced into the world, but what world to create with forms, or at any rate what form to give to the world. In relation to this, cultural categories and hierarchies vanish, any representative hypothesis vanishes, the mythology of the object disappears. What remains in its singular and poignant simplicity is the event of life, the living of men and their inexhaustible will to make their own world, with earth, water and fire.In space and along the fragile boundary that separates light from darkness.


It is the laborious constitution of the work between the material itself, the project and the technical process, that decides its identity as a plastic signifying object. This confirms how Zauli remains faithful to the history of sculpture and interprets current events within this historical vision. Once again it is therefore the link between nature and history, if you like between nature and culture, that is the motive. The constitutive principle, the inescapable reference of the plastic work.Thus, determined by a precise planning and at the same time attracted by a mythical vision of nature, Zauli's sculpture insists on a dialectic, so to speak, of opposites that has represented one of the recurring themes of our century (...) And it is as if in this plastic narrative Zauli had recast in a modern formal destiny and in a complex symbolic investiture, the mythical nature of the material and the sacredness of the gestures and rituals of the ancient potter.


The metamorphosis of form in Zauli cannot be approached in any way to the dissolution of the existential impulse, and in short to the hyper-romantic delirium, which inhabited the Informal season in such a varied way. Certainly, it was difficult for such an explicit probability of the "material" and the "brute" to always refuse to pass through the handling of clay, ready to surrender all its structural virtues and liquefy, and even more to shrivel, crack, explode in a landscape of sublime deformities.


In his work, the rhythms, the morphologies of great natural catastrophes are followed more closely, transcribed or remade with great fidelity. They are geological layers that curve, flex, break, at the pressure of some powerful breath of endogenous volcanic energy. In all this, one can even detect a component of the 'Japanese' spirit, that is, a variant of that contemplative attitude, ready to draw party from the spectacles of nature, without disturbing them with coarse and importunate approaches, which we are now accustomed to bring under the label of Zen. Evidently, Zauli has always chosen to move within the sphere of a macro-Zen, or to give us like giant Haiku, instead of the few, graceful verses that are usually required by the iron rules of this 'genre'.


While Fontana manifests his brilliant research through a sharp and symbolic gesturality, Zauli has a different relationship with history.In recent years, for example, he has made a series of reliefs in stoneware that glue together the broken, or crushed, bodies of earth-coloured vases as if to say that that wall, that sculpture condenses a mythical duration, archaeologically charged with memories; Spina and the great Etruscan civilisation are at home here. The lines of Zauli's research became more precise at the end of the 1960s: stoneware modelled like stones rolled ashore, excavated, engraved, the porous surfaces, at times smooth as if for internal crystal resistances; then, at the beginning of the following decade, the relationship between "primary forms" and tensions of almost naturalistic growth, geometric forms and ambiguous shapes alluding to the myth of sex that seems to be one of Zauli's leitmotifs. Shells, later split, open parallelepipeds, painted in fulcrums to emphasise the symbolic value.


When Zauli succeeds in giving life to his peculiar stoneware creations (or creatures?) - with their soft white-pink-grey nuances - it is easy to understand how his is a sort of opus magnum where the raw material is almost magically transformed into sublimated matter, just as happened (or should have happened) in the metamorphosis, in the metabolè, of the ancient alchemists with the reduction of poor minerals into gold.Because it is precisely from the encounter between form and colour, between earth (in the state of clayey clods), fire (the great fire of the 1200¡ as a fertile element) and colour, - into which the ashes, sands and mineral powders used with incomparable subtlety are translated - that what was initially only the larva of an idea, the still impalpable image of a plastic dream, can come to life and become lasting and perennial.


An encounter with Carlo Zauli's sculptures is pure visual poetry. The impact of his work strikes not only the senses but invades the total field of the psyche. His masterful and imaginative use of the ceramic medium synthesises form, colour, texture, volume and movement into a powerful artistic expression.Although he identifies intimately with nature, there is never any repetitive nod in him. On the contrary, he takes cues from objects and phenomena found in nature to expand his knowledge and awareness of nature. The shapes, geometric or organic, are always characterised by the peculiarity of Carlo Zauli's hand. His large shapes, square or spherical, are transformed into tender, sinuous expressions of sensuality that only clay can express.


What is the source of the fresh sense of matter in Zauli's art? In my opinion, it is due to the fact that this artist does not oppose the earth, but adapts to the earth, i.e. shapes forms that follow its life. Zauli, that is, instead of forcibly compressing or distorting the earth, rather, he acutely grasps the invisible natural form hidden within it, and realises it vividly. Even the fact that the work, while displaying a flow of complex and baroque parts, possesses unity and unperturbed classical order, may be thought to depend on the nature of this operation. At first, our eyes turn to the surface forms, where violent asperities intersect, but then we begin to feel a sense of satisfaction, as of tranquillity of spirit, embraced in the lap of nature: this is precisely why his works are always pervaded with classical serenity, despite the baroque forms resulting from the clash and complexity of the numerous twisted planes.


As always, the principle is structural, then colour and heat make them rise and explode: the alchemy lies in the fact that all matter becomes a chromatic mass, even in depth.They grow, the masses, according to a law of virtuality they carry inside, like crystal the law of crystallography. The strange thing is that energy compressed in form is released into nature. Those shiny, opaque ceramic blocks (other than ornaments!) look great on meadows, in the open air: they are not afraid of nature. They remind me of the hieratic boulders stranded in the empty gardens of Kyoto: they seem to have fallen there by chance, instead their shape is moulded by the transparent space in which they navigate as smoothly as icebergs.

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