‘…As we all know, signs or glyphs or traces have been used by every different artist (of the past as well as of our time) with a value or meaning different for each. For me they are an expression of an interior movement and thus of a movement of rupture or of splitting or of emptiness or of the imbalance of “absolute form”. And it is for this reason I continue to adopt them only with other elements and dimensions which suggest, still in an imaginary way, the same sense of movement, of sundering, of the need to transform…’
(Pomodoro quoted in Arnaldo Pomodoro, exh. cat., London, 1968, n.p.)
A gleaming disk of warm, luminous bronze that splits apart and rotates from the centre, Arnaldo Pomodoro’s Giroscopio is, at over 2 metres in diameter, a monumental and arresting sculpture whose incised, dynamic surface demonstrates the sculptor’s signature ‘writing’. Executed between 1989 and 1990, Giroscopio is the artist’s proof of an edition of two works, one of which is held in the Collezione Barilla di Arte Moderna in Parma.
The large disk of Giroscopio is composed of two semi-circular halves that can be split apart and rotated to transform the spherical form into a complex interlocking structure. The concept of movement was key for Pomodoro, allowing him to explore the relationship between a sculpture and the environment surrounding it. Having created a number of disks and spheres since the early 1960s, Pomodoro had first explored the form of the gyroscope – an ancient spinning wheel or disk – in 1986. Creating the same split disk as the present work, Pomodoro surrounded this with rings to form the typical shape of a gyroscope. In the present work however, Pomodoro has removed the rings, instead focusing on the physical properties and monumental effect of the disk itself. As the sculpture moves into different positions, a myriad of new perspectives and visual possibilities arise, absorbing the viewer in the shifting forms.
A futuristic, radiantly glowing sun-like form, Giroscopio has a plethora of visual connotations, appearing like a complex technological device or a cosmological object from outer space. The surface of the monolithic disk is composed of smooth, shining Brancusi-like planes, which appear to have eroded to reveal a structure of intricate fissures, textural marks and ciphers. Looking in some places like the interlocking components of complex, cosmological machinery and in others like mysterious, otherworldly signs of an impenetrable and cryptic code, the multi-faceted surface provides the viewer with a dynamic, complex play of textures. These elaborate textural impressions were the artist’s own inventions, first inspired by a primitive era of the past. Pomodoro described this distinctive artistic language, stating that, ‘the impressions that I bore, irregular or densely packed…the wedges, the wires, the rips…recall the ancient civilisations’ (Pomodoro quoted in G. Dorfles, ‘Arnaldo Pomodoro and Architectural Space’, in F. Gualdoni (ed.), Arnaldo Pomodoro: Catalogo ragionato della scultura, Vol. 1, Milan, 2007, p. 21). In Giroscopio, Pomodoro has meticulously built up the surface using a multitude of different elements. For Pomodoro, this contrast between the monumentality of the sculpture as a whole and the intricacy of its surface was a central component of his work: he stated, ‘I care how the details function. I want the view at close quarters to be a totally different but related experience. I insist that the sculpture surfaces be read carefully and slowly, even though just a moment before you saw the ensemble forms as essentially geometric and monumental (Pomodoro quoted in S. Hunter, ‘Monuments and Anti-monuments’, in ibid., p. 63).