Alessandro Diaz de Santillana

Views from the exhibition

On the occasion of the 2018 Venice Design Biennial, Marignana Art project room presented the works of Alessandro Diaz de Santillana who over the last ten years has studied the ancient techniques of the Venini glass dynasty, founded in Murano in 1921 by his grandfather Paolo Venini. As the title of the exhibition suggests, quoting the Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the work of De Santillana imbues the patina of the past with the vivacity of the present as he reworks the ancient technique of flat glass window production.

This process is achieved as the artist quickly and intuitively shapes and models the first output of the glass-blowing technique: a big glass cylinder that, when it cools down, is cut out on its ends and in length. Immediately, the artist works on the surface of the flat slab of glass while the glass is still hot; right after this phase he applies a film that renders the transparent glass dense and absorbent.

The resulting objects have a powerful material presence unlike common fragile image of glass. Looking through their surface, the eye captures images that emerge and at once dissipate into the dark depths of the glass. The emergence of such abstract forms on the surface creates a dialogue between the designs of De Santillana and the previous generations that since the Sixties have carried out visual research focused on overcoming the bi-dimensionality of the object and enquiring into the mystery of fabricating images.

Ph. Teo Zanin