Gillo Dorfles

Violins Brought to Life by Domenica Regazzoni

Violins in an embryonic state; violins reduced to fragments; and also broken violins where one sees the matrix of a now vanished sound. And again: individual elements of violins limited to the circumference or only to the surface of the instrument where the two “f”, now silent, defined its unchangeable voice for ever… Certainly: it is just these violins, incomplete or made similar to unprecedented sculpted structures, which inspire Domenica Regazzoni’s evocative exhibition dedicated to her father – the great violin-maker – who spent all his life in the patient and faultless construction of these great grandchildren of the Guarneri, Stradivari, Amati of former times. It is exactly this living side by side with the noble instrument and its laborious and infinitely delicate construction close to her violin-maker father, with the inexpressible mysteries of the search for materials and for the suitable varnishes, that has encouraged the artist to realize – through her own manual skill, but also with the adored memory of her father’s work – her current works: not “pictures” or “statues” but documents of a family craft and also independent inventions “in the key of G” of little monuments in wood. Domenica Regazzoni – who, on other occasions has succeeded in creating exquisite collages of different materials and minute but sensitive interpretations of Japanese haiku – has intended, deliberately, in this exhibition to limit her work exclusively to all that could recall and celebrate her father’s work: his violin-maker’s craft, his incredible musical “ear”. She sought in this way to highlight, albeit only metaphorically, that marriage – so often attempted and so rarely successful – between the two arts: that of vision and that of sound. Which, in this case, finds its justification precisely in the confluence of some characteristics inherent in the art of sound and in that of forms and colours. This is why, above all, I find it very positive that this exhibition can be – besides its aesthetic value or fa mily or filial involvement – an example of the fundamental nature of an approach, for all four arts, which I would define as one of “craftsmanship” in the noblest meaning of the word. That is an approach which takes account of the miniscule calibrations of wood (for the construction, in fact, of a “wood” instrument!) which no electronic mechanism, no computer, will be able to replace or substitute; and how precious such an approach is even for the creation of sculptural works which are destined to be endued with life and rendered beautiful only by the “touch of a hand”. The visitor will further be astounded that some of the pieces exhibited here – the res onance chamber, the “curls” of the pegs, the chin rest, the entire violin with the almost feminine sinuousness of its curves – and the compositions that through these elements come to acquire an autonomous life are already in themselves small “sculptures”. And, I hope, may serve to tell us how vital it is, even for the man of the electronic era and of virtual actions, to be able to give the right value to the search for the most suitable material for manual construction, to the aesthetic sensibility which in this case is not only “plastic” but at one and the same time visual, ornamental and acoustic. Having welcomed an exhibition like this one to such a highly historic setting allows one above all to advance once again the hypothesis that certain rhythmic values, certain harmonic components (as much in a mathematical as in an acoustic sense), certain calibrations of the wood, contain, apart from any chronological connection, some perennial aesthetic “constants” which the art of sounds, like that of forms and colours, too often forget.

Catalogo Skira