Illuminating surprises and tactile colours in Gilberto Zorio exhibition at Blain Southern

By Chelsea Garner | 09 September 2013

Exhibition review: Gilberto Zorio, Blain Southern, London, until September 28 2013

A photo of a series of pieces of wood made to form a star glowing green in a gallery
Gilberto Zorio, Star with Voltaic Bow (2007). Aluminium, American grippers, electrical cables, phosphorus, spark© Image courtesy Gilberto Zorio / Blain|Southern. Photo: Peter Mallet
Italian artist Gilberto Zorio’s first UK exhibition in five years is a well-curated showcase of both his past and present artworks.  

One of the most recognisable installations is Microphones (1968); a forefather of interactive art, this piece incorporates a series of single microphones suspended throughout the space, dangling from the ceiling by their cables.

Strategically placed underneath, concrete blocks serve as stepping stools to aid the vertically challenged, while the microphones beckon to be spoken, whispered, or sung into.

It does take a moment of bravery to actually make noise, as most of the exhibition’s visitors will find themselves completely alone within the space, save one solitary figure dressed in black who seems consumed in his own thoughts and is anything bar approachable.

Without exposing the result, it is worth taking the risk and getting vocal, merging the gap between installation and spectator which, as Zorio often states, is an underlying theme in most of his work.

The most dominant of the 11 works is Zorio’s Torre Stella, or Star Tower – a site-specific installation which was both conceived and built specifically for this show.

Created from porous concrete blocks, the structure serves to divide the space in half, inhibiting one’s view of the entire gallery from a single vantage point, forcing the viewer to walk the full way around it’s jagged ends.

Despite its castle-esque heir, there is a playful quality to the looming fortress, as if a giant child has come into the space, stacking building blocks to create some kind of maze-like game of hide-and-seek.

There is even a small yet purposeful hole in the corner of the structure, offering a glimpse into the interior space and revealing a faint, blue line drawn from a laser that seems to have no source.

Works involving animal skins, copper conductors and what looks like neon cocktails mixed together in glass vials protrude from the walls, some suspended in the air from the ends of re-appropriated javelins.

Zorio’s infamous stars make an appearance, as well as his canoes, painted jet-black and looking almost alien with wires and iron rods jutting out like tentacles.

Leads II is a work comprised of two sheets of lead, half suspended and drawn up to the ceiling overhead, the other half draping onto the floor.

Pooling in the lead sheets, the most brilliantly coloured blues and yellows stand stagnant, forming crystallised patterns along a copper braid.

On one hand, the vibrancy of the chemically-produced colours are so inviting and tactile that it is hard not to reach out and touch them; on the other, the work exudes a strong sense of caution, like being exposed to one of nature’s most beautiful and deadly poisonous animals. Alluring as they may be, we innately know to slowly back away, and so we do.

Without spoiling all of the fun, I can promise that if you visit this exhibition and stay at least 15 minutes, you will be in for a surprise that will expose the show in a whole new light –or lack thereof. Certain works will illuminate and come to life before your eyes.

  • Blain Southern, Hanover Square, London. Open 10am-6pm (5pm Saturday, closed Sunday). Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @BlainSouthern.

More pictures:

A photo of a large plane-like black sculpture hanging from the ceiling of a white gallery
© Image courtesy Gilberto Zorio / Blain|Southern. Photo: Peter Mallet
A photo of a formation of bricks making an angular wall in a gallery with microphones
© Image courtesy Gilberto Zorio / Blain|Southern. Photo: Peter Mallet
A photo of a series of coloured foil shapes inside an art gallery
© Image courtesy Gilberto Zorio / Blain|Southern
An image of a star with a green shadow to it on the wall of an art gallery
© Image courtesy Gilberto Zorio / Blain|Southern. Photo: Peter Mallet
A black and white photo of two men standing in an art gallery surrounded by installations
© Image courtesy Gilberto Zorio / Blain|Southern
What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Visit Chelsea Garner's blog.


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