Piero Fogliati’s Soft Machines – Fortunato D’Amico 2013

Aged over 80, artist Piero Fogliati works incessantly, carrying forward his research into light, which began when as a boy he decided to achieve his great dream: to colour rain. 

In his pieces, Piero Fogliati repairs the fracture between art, science, philosophy and spirituality that had degenerated inexorably since the separation of the branches of knowledge in the second half of the Eighteenth Century. An ancient but incredibly contemporary Art, which uses the project as a method to mediate between the imaginary world, fed by a freely-roaming imagination, and the real world, sensitive to the five senses and subject to the transformations of matter, in order to build the machine, an instrument and work of art designed to evoke a Land of Wonders.  

The time to imagine the things to be achieved, to learn to design them and to produce them; this is all part of activities in the sphere of art practised over the stages of a path defined by a vision, following the indications sketched out in his drawings, then arranged in a chronology and finally turned into procedures. Piero Fogliati steers his creativity in as yet non-existent worlds and, analysing its dynamics, transposes it into mechanical tools developed to record and replicate processes for the regular production of the sensitive phenomena conceived in his imagination. The recording and transcription of the initial imprinting which generated the poetical inspiration is combined with electronics and mechanics and developed into new forms of artistic communication, which are unusual because they were generated with contemporary media that did not conform to those used by the academies to classify art phenomena, and were therefore difficult to understand in those formally organised environments that tend to resist possible experimentation.  

Piero Fogliati necessarily ennobles and optimises his obsession, transforming it into intuition and a knowledge process which, in its gestation, acquires mutable forms and achieves the dimension of art through the construction of apparently bizarre machines and devices.

The relationship with the machine assumes innovative values, especially when considered in relation to the period and the city, Turin, in which Fogliati’s artistic career began. In the 1960s, a relationship with mechanical instruments was synonymous with alienation, with soulless work, automobile factories and environmental greyness. A true Master of Art, Fogliati cleverly resets assumptions and produces domesticated media subject to the activities of the imagination, which suddenly open up worlds of knowledge bordering on wonder and the unexpected. The machines he builds are one of a kind, hardware elements designed for software subjects: light and movement are the main content that alternate in the development of the expressions constructed by his art. And now we observe a symphony of objects that breathe in a rhythmic alternation, activated by a manmade motor to animate the cold world of mechanical products. Cables that become oscillating devices whose vibration produces screens, initially unnoticed and now used for the projection of beams of light, tools that colour rain and shadow, the plastic modification of a rotating body, the construction of sculptures worked in light. All this is now possible, it has been demonstrated by Piero Fogliati in his laboratory somewhere between the sky and the earth, a place equipped to convert fantasy into reality.