From African flowers to the overpowering shades of Barcelona: the scent of colour and heavenly light in the art of Sergi Barnils.
As it often goes with great artists, getting closer to their works and to the thought behind them can be complex and not immediate. The same happens with Simon Benetton, the sculptor who, in over 60 years of activity (he passed away in 2016) has been able to give a soul and freedom to his sculptures by infusing energy into their main material: iron.
Born in 1933, following in his father’s footsteps, famous Toni Benetton, he received his arts education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice; he later developed his own independent thought that evolved into different conceptions. Simon Benetton himself gives his definition of an artist: «A warrior who is always facing the issue of having to fight himself to win the battle, for the battle that must be won is not against others, but against himself. If you can face this problem and are brave enough to understand how to tackle it and bring it down, you win, otherwise you lose. This is the artist's stringency, and it must be so, because magical moments cannot last forever, even if there are still some beautiful moments».
This makes us understand what art is for Benetton: an expression of sincerity and honesty, a synthesis and a need that must be answered. Benetton managed to make the quintessentially heavy material lighter, by infusing his poetic vibration into his sculptures, exposing the relationships and the structures that sleep inside things. It is as if the sculptor guided the material in the development of the works, and the sculpture represented the balance between substance and emptiness. Being proper visualizations of the alternating relationship between heart and reason, Benetton's works are filled with great dynamic value and life blood. The moduled structure is highly expressive: it is an attempt at emulating the abstraction of human functions - speeches, silence, thoughts, dreams. A moment of inner meditation and lyrical surrendering, a speaking testimony of the past and the experiences which can be recalled, yet not relived: Benetton does not forsake the mystery of the afterlife that has always lied within sculptures. Sculptures with a heart and a soul.
Simon Benetton is an artist who loves to humbly find his place with a low voice, to then reveal himself in an unexpected way. Carving with a blowtorch allows thought and emotions to freely soar. The use of glass in sculpture strongly recurs throughout his artistic production. The working of the glass creates a wavy edge that evokes the detachment between the immensity and a drop of light. Two elements that come from earth and fire, and where the strength of the iron meets a light, transparent glass insert, a flash lights up the sculpture. What is surprising is that the glass surfaces are worked in the same way as metals, with no specific instruments or diamonds, but rather with the same instruments that are normally used in iron working. The shapes of the crystal are cut back to the essential, primarily to recall the linearity of the light beam, or elements that conjure a primordial nature. It should be noted, however, that any series that represents this front will not merely use iron as a support for the crystal: the two materials interact and build a lively, dialectical, even polemical relationship. The final result comes close to futurist art.
This is the case of the work within the «Source of Light» series, which can be seen at the entrance of our company. It is not the only sculpture that decorates our company: many other works by Simon Benetton can be found in our offices. The poetic vibration bestows an auroral impetus on the form, which has reached its final appearance through the carving of a blowtorch on what is essentially a gray metal. Furthermore, Benetton's sculptures are the result of a lyrical composition: for this reason, it can be undoubtedly stated that they are the result of an exciting research that goes beyond an impeccable craftsmanship. Manual skills are not enough, what is necessary is vision: it would be reductive to look for words to describe over sixty years of activity. The itinerary that leads to a better understanding of Benetton’s work is yet to be completely traced: although he worked in contemporary times, he embodies the most classic definition of an artist, not because of ancient stylistic elements, but because his work reflected an overall vision of world in which he deeply believed. An unconventional stylistic coherence that expresses the collective consciousness of a new way of creating shapes. A sense of harmony that well fits into urban spaces as well as into the feelings of those who will contemplate the works among deserted plains and the gentle hills flooded with light. The works of Simon Benetton are, in a way, like sounds made of symphonic weaves. It's possible to describe it as sulptures that address the sky and art that tends to infinity. Simon Benetton uses expressive force with iron, but he dominates it with the loving respect of a child towards those who generated it.