Marcello Simeone at the synaesthetic borders of art
by Efisio Carbone
Traditional music is based on hexagrams. It comes about from legends, Bibles, plagues and it revolves around vegetables and death. (Bob Dylan)
Marcello Simeone approaches art with a heretic attitude, which is probably why we find a great amount of spirituality in his works. He accomplished this by bringing his style to the boundaries of experimentation through the creation of perfect, sculpture-like machines that seem to hide automatic mechanisms, some sort of mechanical watches, whose gears he dreamed about and scrabbled on loose sheets while being in a particular state of grace. These heuristic machines unravel or hide, on different levels, tactile and auditory sensations, rhythmic elements throbbing with color and light. He uses materials ranging from the warm wool, which is the protagonist of the international fiber-art scene, to zippers, which intertwine in scandalous erotic ways- similarly used by Warhol in 1971 for the cover of the legendary Rolling Stones “Stick Fingers” album – to shell casings re-used for brightly shining works which, like Daria Marchenko’s and Colombian Federico Uribe’s ones, focus attention on the violence of wars all over the world. He often enriches these sophisticated compositions with voluptuous arabesques, hymns to pleasure that take on decorative raceme shapes, like sound arches with a Debussyan flavor.
Marcello Simeone’s work branches into series, or rather variations, a musical term reclaimed by visual artists in the early days of abstract art, when their need for representation of pure feelings found in music the most suitable universal language. The artist, who is also a skilled pianist, appeals to music and its sin-aesthetic relationship with art, as he perceives sounds inside colors and discerns rhythm inside light. It is not a coincidence that he made a formidable series of works dedicated to Bach’s Goldberg Variations and thus developed, from the first bars of Bach’s masterpiece, an algorithm which he regarded as the “primum mobile” of absolute creation. The same concept of variation takes on the meaning of metamorphosis, as Philip Glass intended it in his magnificent 1988 piece for piano. The transubstantiation of form, whilst retaining a harmonious primordial cell unaltered, explores the infinite possibilities of the composition in a constant and antithetical intertwining of mathematics and feeling.
Marcello Simeone seems basically interested in the interaction between matter and sound and how they affect each other’s sphere. This explains why he uses and matches materials that “sound” so differently: wool with glass and mirrors, metal and rubber, and all these combinations engender mysterious geometric patterns similar to Chladni figures (a German physicist who, on the threshold of the 19th century, performed a fascinating experiment discovering the effects of vibrations on plates sprinkled with impalpable sand). George Bernard Shaw once wrote: you use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul, almost as if he had found a singular relationship among the elements that inspired many contemporary artists.
Another peculiarity of our artist is the belief that irony and provocation constitute an important spur and therefore, in order to encourage salutary thoughtfulness in people, art must necessarily be irreverent and must actively protest. The most ingenious example is the Occupy WC project, which consists in the occupation of the restrooms of museums, theaters, airports and other public buildings with artworks, in order to emphasize the elitist and inaccessible form that art has taken on, as it is generated and devoured by the same establishment that often hypocritically claims to fight. As Banksy put it: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”