Renato Nicolodi 'Libido Moriendi'16/11/2011
'Libido Moriendi' is young Belgian artist Renato Nicolodi’s first solo exhibition in the United States. The architectonic prints and sculptures in this body of work detail Nicolodi’s formal investigation of that which is at once familiar and foreign. His distinctive architectural language draws the viewer’s attention not only across the smooth surfaces and clean lines of the monolithic sculptures, but also toward the act of perception itself.
Libido Moriendi is a Latin phrase that, like Nicolodi’s work, is situated between classical and modern paradigms; it is the noble “death wish” of the Stoic philosophers and the Freudian counterpart to the libido, the “death drive.” In Nicolodi’s architectonic sculptures, libido moriendi is not explicit, but intertwined with another Freudian concept, Das Unheimliche, or the uncanny. The vaguely archetypal monoliths created with cement and wood, register as familiar structures, but also resonate with the underlying and unconscious mechanisms of cognition: a dissonance from which the uncanny is born. Formally, these sculptures bridge classical architecture and the high modernism of Le Corbusier, via the neoclassical architecture of Étienne-Louis Boullée and Claude Nicolas Ledoux.
The titles of some of Nicolodi’s sculptures (Porticus, Tombeau, Personal Museum) all suggest a typological category the work may be considered within, but these terms are just as shadowy and ambiguous as the sculptures themselves. Others (Momento Mori, Omnes eodem cogimur) directly address “the same end” toward which we all must head. It is the dark recesses within the bold forms of Nicolodi’s sculptures that encompass the inescapable presence of death wherever there is life. Yet these dark spaces are physically inaccessible by the viewer and herein lies the impact of Nicolodi’s work: “The spectator cannot physically enter the dark space, so he is invited to approach this space mentally.” We are asked to consider if these dark spaces, the realm of the uncanny and libido moriendi, aren’t somehow always present in our interactions with the phenomenal world.
// Highlight Gallery 3043 Clay St. San Francisco, Ca 94115