(Milan 1924–2003) Fantasma, 1968/1970, signed Baj on the plexiglas, acetate, metal, plexiglas, 118 x 128.5 x 3.5 cm, artist frame (PP)
Among Baj’s rather varied artistic output, this work is one of those Baj called ‘fantasmi’ (ghosts). This relatively brief series was produced in 1969 and 1970, using outlines of silvery material folded or manipulated in various ways (see Catalogo generale of Baj, ed. E. Crispolti, Vol 1, Bolaffi, Turin 1973). Initially he exhibited them in a one-man exhibition at the Galerie Moos in Geneva in 1970, and then at Palazzo Grassi, Venice, in 1971. In a way, in ‘fantasmi’ Baj was developing effects which he had already explored in ‘specchi’ (mirrors), but here the inventive and creative aspect dominates the assembling of objects. With subtle irony and inventive skill, he produced these pieces with an extreme simplicity of means, moulding the plastic material in various ways to exploit the light refracting from the creases, or creating large reflective areas using simple, spare folds. Thus he created ‘fantasmi’ of people or objects. Baj called them ‘fantasmi’ because of their precarious appearance, which is intensely permeated by lightening vibrations. It is certainly a ‘poor’ gesture, although accomplished by manipulating an apparently rich material, the silvery metallized methacrylate, which has a fascinating effect and brings the previously challenged ‘artificiality’ in his coloured “plastiche” to its peak. And here the silver serves as an image, such as the gold sometimes used by Yves Klein. As with all the works in the ‘fantasmi’ series, created from simply formed, folded and metallized methacrylate, the work is placed in a solid metal frame (made by the Marconi laboratory, Milan) and covered with transparent plexiglas; the frame is considered an essential part of the work, forming a single, unseparable whole. ENRICO CRISPOLTI
Provenance: Galleria Condotti 75, Rome (label on the reverse); Studio Marconi, Milan (label on the reverse); Private Collection, Italy
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