The endless work of art

of Cristina Radi (text translated with Google Translate)

Some time ago I met Paolo Grassi on the occasion of his personal exhibition at the Epper Museum in Ascona


On a morning of pouring autumn rain I go to meet Paolo Grassi directly in his home in Losone, which he has taken care of in all the details. I recognize it immediately from the numerical sequence, which welcomes me into the perimeter wall. He offers me a coffee on a table made by him with wood, old newspapers and river stones. So Paolo begins to tell me about his initial career as a graphic designer and his desire to bring creativity into play, which grew especially after he had experimented in building his house. The experimentation of materials and techniques, however, felt that it was not enough to satisfy his desire to create: he was looking for a more conceptual art, which would give a profound and global sense to his making art. A sense in which each work had a value in itself, but at the same time was part of a whole tending towards infinity. A conception of one's art as a representation of the universe.


This search for meaning has created a great concern for a long time, a lion caged in its depths. Then during a holiday on the French Riviera, distancing himself from his environment and his work, on the beach in a moment between dream and wakefulness, everything became clear to him: each of his works had to be linked to the other by a common universal language and without limits. So in 2007 the From 0 to infinity project took shape, with works created by progressive numerical sequences starting from the concept of emptiness, the 0, which is thus filled with meaning. Each sequence is a finished work in itself, but recalls the potential of the unlimited. In these more than 10 years, the works created have been over 250 and the sequence has exceeded 5000. We then move on to the Epper Museum in Ascona, where his personal exhibition is set up.


Here Grassi also explains to me that over the years the techniques and shapes he experimented have also changed, because his is naturally a work in progress. The sequential order allows you to analyze the evolution of your artistic path. Thus it passed from the use of plexiglass and a pictorial art more oriented to two dimensions, to arrive at bronze and iron sculpture with a clear preference for curved lines and spherical shapes. Of particular interest are several works with an oval shape. The egg has always been finished and infinite in coexistence, referring to regeneration, rebirth, the oxymoron of fragility and hardness together, an autarchic microcosm that brings new life.


Grassi speaks to me passionately about all the phases of his work in the creation of the work, especially in bronze.


The design becomes a long and laborious process for him, which is an integral part of the work itself, elaborated with cardboard models or wax or plaster casts. In its path it is not only the destination that counts, the journey itself is fundamental. The idea that each creation is forced within precise numerical sequences has often put it in front of stringent limits for its realization; limits which, however, have become for him an opportunity for creative expression, which a white sheet would not have allowed him. Total creative freedom can sometimes be more castrating than a cage, which one must strive to make art.


He then shows me a catalog with images of places he made works of art, through the number of his figures: walls of houses and offices, art galleries and perimeter walls, which have become real artistic installations and integral parts of the his sequential project. He points out two LED works and explains that he is now also experimenting with this technique, putting texts alongside phrases that are congenial to him like Steve Jobs' slogan "be hungry, be crazy". It is understandable why this choice is linked by a common attraction for the combination of art and science, creativity, numbers and design.