Alfio Giuffrida

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Alfio Giuffrida
CD-HOMES, Series 3.004-exp11-08.tiff
CD-HOMES-exp11, 2008. Private collection
Born (1953-01-28)January 28, 1953
Zafferana Etnea, Italy
Nationality Italian
Education Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma
Known for Painting, Sculpture, Scenography
Website
AG Sinnwerke®

Giuffrida, Alfio (born 28 January 1953 in Zafferana Etnea) is a contemporary Italian sculptor, object and installation artist, set designer and painter. He is one of the artists who consciously refused to bow down to the current trends in order to create a highly distinct, coherent piece of work. Giuffrida who comes from Catania initially worked in Rome until he relocated to Germany in the mid eighties.

During the self-imposed exile in the foreign language environment, he developed his artistic vocabulary with which he formulated his own cosmos. With the Adjustable Elements, Giuffrida bypassed the boundaries of the term “sculpture” known until then. Ambiguity and variability become basic principles which constitute Giuffrida’s sculptures as well as his paintings.

Biography[edit]

Early years and youth

Alfio Giuffrida spent his childhood on the slopes of Mt Etna with a sweeping view of the sea. The incalculable power of nature and sensuality of existence made a deep impression on him, and at a very early age he knew that the language of art was the one for him.

As an innocent five year-old unaffected by distractions like television, his first car journey was a formative experience for him: it was less the automobile technology that fascinated him, but rather the rapidly changing view outside the car, suggesting to him that what he was seeing was a series of images that could not be controlled. The ensuing realization that the outside world moved and changed – in the section of it visible to him on the other side of the window – and that this external transformation was relative to his own speed, that is, to the movement and the position of the observer, became indelibly imprinted on Giuffrida’s mind.

ELEMENT LVIII-Animation, 2003

His relationship to art could be described as scientific, even at a very young age: he applied himself with persistent dedication to drawing, painting and constructing. A scale model reproduction of the church in his home town became a research project lasting years. He kept destroying the work, so that he could start it immediately from scratch again taking lessons from his previous experimentation, applying even greater precision and oriented more closely to reality. The uncompromising striving for perfection, aiming at the best possible expression of his creative visions, would always stay with him in years to come as well.

In his early youthful phase Giuffrida primarily approached nature and man’s creative potential in his painting, and these remained a constant reference point in his art in the years ahead. He experimented with the possibilities of painting and collage techniques. His paintings tend to feature calm, predominantly blue spaces, punctuated by white light reflexes that constantly reoccur in his later work. The blister packing he adds to the pictures evokes the image of a computer keyboard, and also looks like a picture taken from space of geographical and city structures, a bird’s eye photo of urban landscapes seen through a lunar filter.

A period of intense nature studies followed these works, though he did not formulate them as naturalistic reproductions but instead took them in an abstract direction. With scientific precision, he examined plant structures in particular, dissecting organic material and making cross sections in natural tissue in order to study the essence of things and figure out the basic nature of form. Giuffrida understood the minutiae at the heart of the elements he analysed as fundamental forms of nature, which are combined in natural creation in myriad, endlessly varied formations. He reduces these basic shapes to geometric patterns which he captures in small square pictures in equally diverse variations. These mainly take the form of black-and-white dabbed paintings, some of which are on transparent paper that seems to correspond to the materiality of the diaphanous floral tissue. It is at this point that he begins to be captivated by the technical quality and effect of transparency, another guiding principle running consistently through Giuffrida’s art and his constant search for the best forms of expression for the wide range of materials suited to him.

Works[edit]

There was a concentrated series of works in the early 1970s influenced by Minimalism (Minimal Art). Among other things, he created transparent, folded canvases that incorporated superimposed folded shapes, form elements – cut out and therefore definitively liberated from their original context: floating particles in a solidified fluid, like scattered inlays in radiant amber. The colour only becomes apparent in the light and iridescence, further differentiated by the surface. As in other still haptic works, the first configurations are not created through construction but through attachments that allow forms to emerge through a mechanical process, almost by chance and in a semi-experimental way. Impression, abrasion, reprinting, reduction are pseudo-objective processes that resemble scientific production methods in the infusion of chance and methodology, subjectivity and objectivity. Pastel colours are dabbed on paper then gently lifted off, their image detached onto gauze impregnated with glue, the colour particles sticking to it like delicate pollen. In the milky-white of the semi-transparent base mass, the detached pigments float like preciously preserved spolia and spores, sprinkled like stars over the universe of the paper. Imperceptibly yet inexorably their blaze expands the sfumato-white background into an all-encompassing space which attains cosmic dimensions and spans light years.

In 1975 he returned to non-figurative representation. This period saw him participating at the X Rome Quadriennale that year.

Between 1977 and 1985 he worked as a freelance painter and set designer in Rome. At this point he began to develop a substantial body of painted work, a stringent transitional route in which the reduction of form revealed his early proximity to Minimalist Art and at the same time took on mythical, fantastic features. His pictorial language incorporates traces of Italian Futurism (Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carrà), of painters such as Lucio Fontana, Mario Nigro, Gustav Klimt, Sonia and Robert Delaunay, Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky. Added to which, it can also be traced back to Pre-Columbian Mayan art. Experience of post-Impressionism (Pointillism) combines with computer graphics techniques (raster graphics), which in turn have links to the visual effects of his current high-tech constructions (microwave towers).

He moved to Cologne in 1986, deliberately setting his sights on one of the most active centres in contemporary art at that time. The colours appear in characteristic dapple style on large-format canvasses, under which shapes are silhouetted, apparently moving as if behind textured glass. The horizontally layered colours are broken up in irregular though rhythmic sequences, and in this way suggest the movement of an undetected being that is captured in a distortion akin to a wipe effect in photography. Something similar happens in the human images group of works in which figurative representation becomes an experimental sphere. The human images develop their suggestive power through serial sequencing and dynamic distortion. In their mask-like reproduction of almost identical forms, they run counter to any expression of unique personality, which differs from the classical portrait emphasizing one person‘s individuality. The human being mutates into a prototype, appearing in diverse variations within the serial arrangement and disappearing in the masses.

From 1990 to 2004 he worked in his studio in Bonn. Still committed to varied sequences and rhythmic movement, Giuffrida ended up in his new group of works at the picture puzzle using abstract elements and shapes. Canvasses were now inspired by architectural and ornamental structures captured in mysterious light and shadow arrangements, in shades of grey-blue and white. With the wooden reliefs and sculptures that then followed in 1995, Giuffrida transposed the notion of picture puzzles into the third dimension. He made assemblages from dismantled individual items and furniture freed from its functional context, combining them with worked wood panels. The relief-like wooden sculptures look like magnified details of the painted puzzles. Symmetrical arrangements, repetitions and sequences crop up here as well.

Following his principle of systematically carrying on the experiments he had begun with these expressive tools, Giuffrida used the static wooden reliefs to develop symmetrical yet mobile iron sculptures in similar dimensions, the so-called Elements or Adjustable Sculptures. Giuffrida linked iron strips with multiple joints together in such a way that they could pivot on the joints; the observer consciously becomes a participant in art by being encouraged to alter the sculptures.

ELEMENT LVIII-Einstellung 11, 1997/98

From this point the road led to new materials and dimensions. Sculptures made of iron and Perspex represented a new group of works. Initially they were made life-size. Everyday found objects were put on Perspex plinths and became assemblages associated with new meaning. Later they took up so much room that the Perspex bases grew into navigable spaces with corridors and transparent walls, while antenna-like watchmen or signals loomed high above the viewers. Giuffrida increasingly brought his creative drive to the public space. The project The whole world as a sculpture park was conceived and presented in public for the first time in September 1997. A tower made of steel struts about 21 metres high forms the end point of a series of steel sculptures, each of which denotes one of the steps linking the graphic design and the end result of the monument. The structures of the steel sculptures are reminiscent of electricity pylons, bearers and conductors of energy that belong to the absolutely essential nature of the living world, just like art. The ultimate aim of the project is to gradually replace all pylons with new large-scale sculptures designed by artists that are both art works and functional objects.

B-731 R, 1996/97

2003 saw the founding of the fictitious factory A.G. Sinnwerke®. The first products to appear under the A.G. Sinnwerke label were the CDs, CD-Sets, and Selbstbau-Sets. More concentrated object cycles followed: CD-Roms, Samples, Ovali, Kugeln, Irrigatoren, Mona Lisa, and Sample-Sets, all offered in blister packs. Adjustable, space-consuming sculptures were made in parallel, their models presented in the form of corsets. Many ideas were captured in painting. He followed the same principle when he continued the richly varied idea of the objects in painting : Irrigatoren, Irrigatoren-Sätze, CD-Homes, Figuren, Enthüllungen, Bezüge, Seitenblicke, Antennen, Töpfe, Tempel, Angebote, CD-Stapel, Kathedralen etc. Eventually the artist provided only the material, that is, the Do-it-yourself-Baukästen, allowing the buyer to come to a personal decision about what form to use for his or her individual picture.

Exhibitions[edit]

Selected exhibitions

March/April 1989 Bahnwärterhaus Villa Merkel – Galerie der Stadt Esslingen. February/April 2001 Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum Aachen. April/June 2001 Stadtmuseum Siegburg. July/August 2004 Mannheimer Kunstverein. September/December 2006 Märkisches Museum Witten. March/June 2007 Stadtmuseum Bergkamen.

Stage design[edit]

Alongside his creative work Giuffrida has devoted himself to set design for dance theatre ever since his days in Rome. The stage images he has created are characterized by light, transparency, movement and a lightness of touch. Typical features are large-scale objects without a fixed installation, like steel struts and frames that the dancers can move around in the space: the rhythm and variation of stage set and dance are mutually complementary. This allows the creation of ever-new spatial definitions and flexible images, in which the notion of the relativity of viewer and object through the movement in space or the movement of space itself in turn becomes the theme itself. From 1995 he has been set designer for, among others, Tanzforum Köln, Euregio Tanzforum, and Jochen Ulrich.

Notebook, Premiere, 2 May 1995, Oper der Stadt Köln. Die Verlobung in St. Domingo, 17 June 1995, Schlosserei Schauspiel Köln. Goya-Danzas negras, 20 December 1995, Oper der Stadt Köln. Get up Early, 22 February 1996, Internationales Tanzfestival Wien. Citizen Kane, 4 April 1997, Oper der Stadt Köln. Diaghilew - Die Offenbarung, 10 January 1999, Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck. Lorca y Dalí-Perros de Luna, 19 February 1999, Stadsschouwburg Heerlen (NL). Mon Orphée, 1 April 2000, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen. Phädra, 30 November 2000, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf. Romeo und Julia, 20 January 2001, Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck. Casanova, 10 November 2001, Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck. Diaghilew - Die Favoriten, 8 November 2003, Aalto Theater Essen. Caravaggio, 22 November 2003, Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck. Sissi - Kaiserliche Hoheit, 22 October 2005, Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck.

Bibliography[edit]

Künstler in Köln 1990, Köln 1989. M. Haas, A. Tolnay (Bearb.), Grafische Sammlung der Stadt Esslingen am Neckar, Bestands-Kat. II, Esslingen 1991. B. Colarossi (Ed.), Quadriennale D′arte di Roma, Inv. Dell′arch., Rome 2000, ISBN 8876211276. Ulrich Schneider, Gert Fischer: Suermondt Ludwig Museum Aachen, Stadtmuseum Siegburg (Hrsg.): Giuffrida, Aachen/Siegburg 2001, ISBN 3-00-007525-9. Martin Stather: A.G. Sinnwerke, Mannheimer Kunstverein (Hrsg.): A.G. Sinnwerke Giuffrida CDs, Bonn 2004, ISBN 3-00-014058-1. Nele Lipp, Uwe Rüth: Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten Marl (Hrsg.): Körper – Leib – Raum: Der Raum im zeitgenössischen Tanz und in der zeitgenössischen Plastik, Marl 2006, ISBN 3-924790-73-6.

Some Works[edit]

See also[edit]

Postmodernism

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. X Quadriennale – la nuova generazione. De Luca, 1975
  2. Artforum-International. March 1987
  3. Bonner Rundschau – Synthese von Bühnenbild und Malerei. 20 Nov. 1987
  4. General-Anzeiger/Bonner Stadtanzeiger – Farbe und Licht. 23 Nov. 1987
  5. Flash Art-International. March–April 1988
  6. Ruhr-Nachrichten/Dortmunder Zeitung – Sammlerwert haben die Plakate. 21 Dec. 1988
  7. Westfälische Rundschau/Zeitung für Dortmund – Für die Oper. 21 Dec. 1988
  8. Esslinger Zeitung – Eine eigene Sprache in Form und Farbe. 10 March 1989
  9. Esslinger Zeitung – Übersetzung – Im Bahnwärterhaus. 29 March 1989
  10. Rems-Zeitung / Kultur – Leises Flüstern eines Farben-Magiers – Eine abgemilderte südliche Farbenpracht. 9 Feb. 1991
  11. Kölnische Rundschau – Wenn Iphigenie in Brooklyn lebt – Premiere des Tanz-Forums: „Notebook“ aus 25 Jahren. 4 Feb. 1995
  12. F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Alle Rassen kriegen ihr Fett weg – Mit der„Verlobung in St. Domingo“ gewinnt das Kölner Tanz-Forum verlorenes Terrain zurück. J. Schmidt, 30 June 1995
  13. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger – Dreifach lockt die Herzogin von Alba. 22 Dec. 1995
  14. Bonner Rundschau / Kultur – Die Phantome des Fegefeuers. 22 Dec. 1995
  15. NZZ Neue Zürcher Zeitung – Tanz in die (Vogel-)Freiheit – Das Tanz-Forum Koeln mit seiner ersten freien Produktion, „Goya“. 23 Dec. 1995
  16. Der Standard / Kultur – Bewegte Greuelbilder als Kopfgeburt der Welt – Mit Jochen Ulrichs Kölner „Goya“-Projekt wird „Tanz '96“ eröffnet. 23 Dec. 1995
  17. F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Künstler in der Schreckenswelt – Jochen Ulrichs „Goya“: Die erste freie Produktion des unabhängigen Kölner Tanz-Forums. J. Schmidt, 28 Dec. 1995
  18. Frankfurter Rundschau – Die Versuchung des Malers – Jochen Ulrich zeigte seine ambitionierte „Goya“-Choreographie im Koelner Tanz-Forum. 28 Dec. 1995
  19. Der Standard /Kultur – Getanzte Morgenwäsche für Frühaufsteher. 24 Feb. 1996
  20. F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Warum man liebt und wieder damit aufhört – Unternehmungslustige Frühaufsteher: Das Wiener Festival „Tanz '96“ eröffnet mit Jochen Ulrichs „Get Up Early“. J. Schmidt, 1 March 1996
  21. Ballett-International – Night Birds and Early Risers. J. Schmidt. Issue 4. - April 1996
  22. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger – Man springt und kreiselt. 6 May 1997
  23. Handelsblatt / Kultur – „Citizen Kane“ in Köln. Wille zur Macht. 8 May 1997
  24. Tanztheater heute: dreissig Jahre deutsche Tanzgeschichte. J. Hinzmann, M. Merschmeier. - Kallmeyer, 1998. ISBN 378000111X
  25. Tiroler Tageszeitung / Kultur – Die Quellen der Kreativität. 12 Jan. 1999
  26. F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Prometheus brennt – Diaghilew wärmt sich: Ulrichs Innsbrucker Ballett „Offenbarung“. J. Schmidt, 19 Jan. 1999
  27. NZZ Neue Zürcher Zeitung – Diaghilew-Hommage aus heutigem Geist – Tanztheater im Landestheater Innsbruck. 26 Jan. 1999
  28. Mittelbayerische Zeitung – „Die ganze Welt ein Skulpturenpark“. 16 March 2000
  29. F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Orpheus tanzt auf einem Kreidepfeiler – Immer ein wenig jenseits der Sache: Jochen Ulrichs getanzte Interpretation eines alten Motivs in Aachen. J. Schmidt, 8 April 2000
  30. Tiroler Tageszeitung – Weshalb Innsbruck... 13 Sep. 2000
  31. Stuttgarter Zeitung / Kultur – Unerwiderte Stiefsohnesliebe – Jochen Ulrichs „Phädra“ Mats Eks „Solo für zwei“-ein Tanzabend in Düsseldorf. H. Koegler, 7 Dec. 2000
  32. F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – In wehenden Rockschößen verloren – Das „Phädra“- Ballett von Jochen Ulrich und Fabrice Jucquois an der Rheinoper in Düsseldorf. J. Schmidt, 9 Dec. 2000
  33. Österreich tanzt: Geschichte und Gegenwart. A. Amort, M. Wunderer-Gosch. - Böhlau, 2001. ISBN 3205992261
  34. Tiroler Tageszeitung – Ihr Element ist Liebe und Tanz. 13 Jan. 2001
  35. APA Austria Presse Agentur – Premierenreigen am Tiroler Landestheater. 16 Jan. 2001
  36. APA Austria Presse Agentur – Triumph des Innsbrucker Tanztheaters. 21 Jan. 2001
  37. Tiroler Tageszeitung / Kultur – Romeo und dem Leben verfallen. 22 Jan. 2001
  38. Der Standard / Kultur – Im Perpetuum durch die Lüfte. 30 Jan. 2001
  39. Aachener Nachrichten – In der Askese wohnt Leben. 22 Feb. 2001
  40. Aachener Zeitung – Schwebende Gebilde aus Eisen. 22 Feb. 2001
  41. Salzburger Nachrichten / Kultur – Nicht nur Seelenstriptease. 6 April 2001
  42. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger – Räume aus variablen Formen. 27 April 2001
  43. APA Austria Presse Agentur – Casanova tanzt am Tiroler Landestheater in dreifacher Gestalt. 8 Nov. 2001
  44. Tiroler Tageszeitung – Die ewige Suche nach der Erfüllung. 10 Nov. 2001
  45. Tiroler Tageszeitung / Kultur – Im Rausch der Lebensleichtigkeit. 12 Nov. 2001
  46. Salzburger Nachrichten / Kultur – Drei Leben des Casanova. 14 Nov. 2001
  47. F.A.Z. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Die Lust an bunten Tüchern – nicht unbedingt ein Handlungsballett: Jochen Ulrichs „Casanova“ am Tiroler Landestheater. J. Schmidt, 14 Nov. 2001
  48. Kurier – Der Frauenheld als rastlos Suchender. A. Amort, 14 Nov. 2001
  49. Dolomiten / Kultur – Mindestens drei volle Männerleben hat Casanova, der viel gerühmt. 15 Nov. 2001
  50. Der Standard / Kultur – Drei Gesichter der Verführung. 20 Nov. 2001
  51. Kronen Zeitung – Casanova, der berühmte Abenteurer, Spieler, Hochstapler und... 26 Jan. 2002
  52. Tiroler Tageszeitung – THEATER... 18 Feb. 2002
  53. Tiroler Tageszeitung – Mann, Kunst und Spanien. 5 July 2002
  54. Kronen Zeitung – Tiroler „Casanova“ in Kärnten. 23 Oct. 2002
  55. Kleine Zeitung / Kultur – Casanova, zwei Klone und Don Giovanni. 26 Oct. 2002
  56. APA Austria Presse Agentur – Zauberoper-Erstaufführung und Tanztheater- Uraufführung in Tirol. 11 Nov. 2003
  57. Kurier / Chronik – Malerisches Tanztheater. 21 Nov. 2003
  58. Tiroler Tageszeitung – Tanz lindert den Lebensschmerz. 22 Nov. 2003
  59. APA Austria Presse Agentur — „Caravaggio“ eine getanzte Passion am Tiroler Landestheater. 23 Nov. 2003
  60. Tiroler Tageszeitung / Kultur – Messer, Degen, Pinsel, Leidenschaft. 24 Nov. 2003
  61. La Quadriennale: storia della rassegna d'arte italiana dagli anni Trenta a oggi. C. Salaris. - Marsilio, 2004. ISBN 8831785125
  62. Morgen / Kultur – Wenn Männer spielen wollen. 17 July 2004
  63. APA Austria Presse Agentur – Mono-Oper „Anne Frank“ und Ballett „Sissi“ am Tiroler Landestheater. 19 Oct. 2005
  64. Kronen Zeitung – Zwei Frauengeschichten ohne Hochspannung. 24 Oct. 2005
  65. Kronen Zeitung – Hofetikette und Chanel. 31 Oct. 2005
  66. DOR: 50 Jahre Musik-Theater: Deutsche Oper am Rhein, 1956–2006. T. Richter, J. Grote. - DuMont, 2006. ISBN 3-8321-7728-0
  67. Ruhr-Nachrichten / Kultur – Bauklötze staunen über Riesen-Buggy. 16 Sep. 2006
  68. Ruhr-Nachrichten – Buggy für ein Riesen-Baby. 16 Sep. 2006
  69. WAZ Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung – Kinderwagen in XXXL. 16 Sep. 2006
  70. Oper in Köln – Von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. C. Schwandt. - Dittrich, 2007. ISBN 978-3-937727-21-0
  71. Kurier / Kultur – Lorca und Dalí im Clinch am Linzer Landestheater. 22 Feb. 2008