This work is registered in Archivio Arnaldo Pomodoro under no. AP 634.
Seductively perfect, burnished to a sublime brilliance, the exterior surface of Arnaldo Pomodoro’s Sfera remains inscrutable. Within its spherical form is the potential to whirl, to turn and spin, yet the work remains serenely poised, alluding to an ideal, universal geometry. Yet beneath this perfection, as if giving way to an irresistible pressure, cracks begin to appear, criss-crossing and widening over the polished surface. The chasms revealed within are lined with unpolished rows of repeating gears and rising cogs, with interlocking teeth and serial crenellations. Ruthlessly standardized and dynamically variable, these powerful interior forms speak the language of inhuman machinery. Encompassing this paradox of forms and uniting it into a single work, Sfera is a consummate example of Pomodoro’s practice, in which the artist melds grace and brutality.
The dichotomy which lies at the heart of Sfera is the opposition between creation and destruction, past and present. The artist has described how, whilst appreciating the achievements of his predecessors, he could no longer aim towards a similar perfection in his own sculptural practice: ‘As for Brancusi, I am and I always was a great admirer of his work. The perfection of form in Brancusi was so beautiful and mysterious; what can one do after Brancusi, or after Arp? Then at a certain moment I said to myself, really this perfection of the form in our time is inappropriate; it has to be destroyed. For me the ‘destruction’ element in form was my most important discovery, and the most authentic both in terms of myself and my times’ (A. Pomodoro, quoted in S. Hunter, Arnaldo Pomodoro, New York 1982, p. 52). For the artist, destruction is epitomised in the foreboding, anxious drama of technological progress: as technology has developed, it has both eroded traditional values, and presented ever-new capabilities for violence. In Sfera, the interplay of positive and negative space, of presence and absence exquisitely captures this psychological tension. Pomodoro creates this compelling effect using the technique of lost-wax casting: meticulously sculpting the areas that will become empty space in the final work, he quite literally creates something out of nothing and vice versa. Reconciling the dissonance of the industrial present with the beauty of the classical past in a unique visual language, Sfera encompasses the very contradictions of modernity.