The collector is a privileged person: he can create for himself his own small/large cosmos in which to live, and through which to perceive external reality with fresh inferences, which often improve it and render it full of unexpected nuances. To speak without
enthusiasm about every fragment of my private cosmos, is impossible for me: I have never confronted a work (inside the collection or out) without a powerful emotional urge to seek out its essence, or at least the line of thought underlying it. It is an introductory
statement to explain my impulse to exalt the quality of each of my pieces: this is precisely my genuine way of experiencing it.
Now I would like to introduce this installation by Mario Merz, executed in 1979 and entitled Il Guardiano (The Watchman). The canvas is splendidly preserved, with the still vibrant colours that exalt the "monstrous" figure of the watchman; the white neon that runs across the canvas starting from the figure's head; two grey stones situated at the base of the canvas, which enhance the entire work.
It is not easy to find "vertical" canvases by Mario, they are more often horizontal (and enormous). This one originally came from the Dusseldorf gallery of Konrad Fischer, who was a great evaluator of Merz and other protagonists of Arte Povera.
The neon crossing the canvas, and the stones resting at the base in a simple gesture typical of Mario, actually make this work highly distinctive: the neon light and the stones establish a sort of corresponding triangle between the two parts of the installation, which seem to have been placed in direct communication. The softness of the glow of the neon which highlights the outlines and colours of the Watchman, almost bathed in mysterious light, and the two stones consigned, in all their nakedness, to the figure of who, from on high, must keep watch. In this extreme structural simplicity lies the greatness of this installation, in which the unreality of the figure of the Watchman enters into dialogue with the reality of the stones. Where the two hewn stones can look like two hearts pulsating with energy, stolen from the figure traced by Mario.
Elegant, both real and unreal at the same time, this work represents for us a rare and significant expression of the universe of Mario Merz.