Open today
9:00 - 19:00
27 Oct – 25 Feb 2024

Viaggio di Luce

Claudio Parmiggiani Abel Herrero

Viaggio di luce exhibits together for the first time the works of Claudio Parmiggiani and Abel Herrero in the Galleria delle Carrozze of Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

The exhibition – a project of Museo Novecento promoted by the Metropolitan City of Florence, curated by Sergio Risaliti and organised by MUS.E and Kontainer Association – displays the works of two artists of distant origins but united by their mutual poetics and sensitivity towards the language of  painting.

A project by:Museo Novecento
Cureted by:Sergio Risaliti
Organized by:Mus.e e Kontainer
Where:Galleria delle carrozze, via Ginori, 12
Viaggio di Luce. Claudio Parmiggiani, Abel Herrero
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From 9 am to 7 pm

Closed on Wednesday


In the Galleria delle Carrozze, four large boats – a strange and estranging twist of fate in the changing of hands from land vehicles to water crafts – glide towards a distant, unreachable destination; or perhaps they are drifting away from their point of departure, in the hope of landing in an unknown, virgin land to begin a new civilisation of art. Like memories of a journey, they are close to becoming shadows of themselves. They travel in stillness. Parmiggiani’s boats carry a special cargo, made of powders of different colours, miraculous and precious materials, the epitome of a glorious history: pure pigments, the inalienable substance of every pictorial apparition. Red, yellow, blue and green. “I do not have a nihilistic conception of life because I don’t even know what life is. I feel it is a great gift; the gift of being able to observe the world, to observe the eyes of my fellow human beings, the miracle of being able to walk this Earth” Claudio Parmiggiani.

On the walls there are large monochrome canvases of equal chromatic purity by Abel Herrero. A sea of luminous and acid green, a blinding and nervous yellow, a blue replete with nocturnal depth, a red like blood and Dionysian nectar, a black that – while concealing  – reveals the origin of light. Large churning surfaces, a sea of colour, still waves riding one after the other, on top of each other, and facing us like colour-saturated walls. Herrero makes a contemporary re-appropriation of the classic subject of the seascape, here becoming a depiction of the human condition, “a landscape of mass society and the ideology of produce-consume-produce… A landscape of passive assimilation, of the endurance of the doctrine of alienation and the impossibility of having access to contemplation as an increasingly denied psychological category”.

With his installations, Parmiggiani advances towards the disappearance of the object, penetrating the immaterial world of the idea, to the boundaries of the absolute and unattainable, however entrusting to things the ‘incarnation’ of the divine into reality, the unveiling of the invisible in the world of things. A pair of worn shoes, a bell, a pile of books, the warmth of a statue, an old oil lamp, boats and pigments. The painting is possible only by entrusting beauty and truth to the objects, and the history and survival of painting to the colour pigments. As when the artist entrusts the real presence of things to shadow and smoke, the presence of past to memory. Likewise, Herrero accepts the challenge of abstraction without  relinquishing the immanence of painting, the recognizable structure of the naturalistic vision, the only possible way for the painter to imagine the infinite and the unlimited, when everything now has become within reach and every form of life has been digitally consumed. Everything, even the origin of the universe. Every mystery, even that of light and its counterpart, darkness. As in Parmiggiani, in Herrero as well, the wonderment for the miracle of the gaze persists, which consists in the contemplative recognition of the real. The dizzying opening up of the infinite, both in the thing and in the work of art.

An intense dialogue where Parmiggiani’s work, as an installation but strongly based on pictorial narrative, undergoes a metamorphosis, thus transforming the horizontal plane of the four sculptures, rich in colour pigments, into a vertical catharsis made of large canvases saturated with pure colour, pure light.

A catalogue with texts by the curator and critical contributions by Andrea Cortellessa and Walter Guadagnini will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.

Claudio Parmiggiani photo Claudio Abate


Claudio Parmiggiani (Luzzara, 1943)

One of the leading figures on the international art scene, Parmiggiani trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Modena. At a very young age, he met Giorgio Morandi and began to use painted plaster casts that the artist called “sculpted paintings” for his works. In 1965, he held his first exhibition at the Feltrinelli bookshop in Bologna. In the same period, he approached Gruppo 63 and Luciano Anceschi’s ‘il verri’, while in Milan, he maintained relations with Vincenzo Agnetti and Emilio Villa, with whom he established a long association. A radically iconoclastic spirit underlies all his works; since the mid-1960s his many insights have characterised his research in an entirely original and pioneering way.

His first Delocations, works made with fire, powder and smoke, defined as shadow sculptures by Georges Didi-Huberman, date from 1970. They represent a radical reflection on the theme of absence and trace, which he developed further until it became the guiding principle of all his work.

In the last 40 years Claudio Parmiggiani has focused his practice on themes of memory, absence and silence, in his search for an image, an object transcending time and individual experience to evoke a universal and existential truth. His materials are powder and ash, fire and air, shadow and colour, light and stone, glass and steel, blood and marble. By assembling fragments of the world, bells, butterflies, books, stars, statues, boats, he creates unusual images that seem oddly familiar, in their tragic beauty.

He has published numerous book-works over the years. He has presented his creations in many prestigious international public and private institutions. His permanent installations include, Il faro d’Islanda (2000), Ex-voto at the Louvre Museum (2007), Porta Speciosa for the Sacred Hermitage of Camaldoli (2013) and the work for the Chamber of Jupiter’s Loves at Villa Medici in Rome (2015).

Abel Herrero

Abel Herrero (La Habana, 1971)

Herrero has lived and worked in Italy since 1994. He has developed his art by engaging with important figures of the Italian avant-garde. During his years in Italy, he has lived and resided between Milan, Parma, Venice and the area of Siena, Tuscany, studying the history of European art and iconography.

Herrero’s painting has always investigated the relationship between humans and the natural world. Within this relationship we see a reflection on the concept of saturation, a phenomenon which consists in pushing the resistance values of a body or an element to their limit, to exasperation. In his painting practice, the artist works a chromatic saturation by using pure colour and generally choosing the colour of typographic saturation: magenta, cyan, green, yellow. The result is a powerful, bright painting where the subject itself becomes pure colour. The distinction between chromatic and thematic value is thus erased, the subject becomes colour and the colour becomes subject.

‘’It is not the visible world that is saturated, it is our gaze that saturates the visible, in consideration that everything which is looked at by the massified eye becomes prey to that form of engulfing and bulimic optical relativism causing any image to be swallowed and spat out, simultaneously exalted and erased. Painting, the most important and noble form of representation, namely the image, is in turn caught up in this dramatic scenario where everything is equal to everything and to nothing. I therefore believe in the great possibility of the artist, in my case of the painter and painting, to be able to cleanse the image of the pollution of content to which it is subjected, rescuing it from the nausea of visual hyper-consumption. Painting in its poverty and humility once again becomes the ideal medium in representing the essence of the world and the truth of the subject, whatever they are.”