01. 03. 2023 @ 18:00
Adults, Students, Seniors

On Sunday the 5th of March, the solo exhibition of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Michelangelo Pistoletto will close at Cukrarna Gallery. The overview exhibition, entitled Fourth Generation, presents a large part of the artist’s oeuvre and provides an insight into the main phases of his creative work from the 1960s to the present day, with special emphasis on his “dark” period, which served as our point of departure in conceiving the exhibition, selecting the works and framing the dramaturgy of the display at the Cukrarna Gallery, in collaboration with Zerynthia Association for Contemporary Art in Rome. 


A few days before the closing, on Wednesday the 1st of March at 6 p.m., we will present the exhibition catalogue in the presence of the artist, the artistic director of Cukrarna and curator of the exhibition, Alenka Gregorič, the director of the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana, Blaž Peršin, as well as representatives of Zerynthia – Dora Stiefelmeyer and Mario Pieroni. The presentation will be followed by an artist talk. Before the event, Maestro Pistoletto will mark his visit to Ljubljana by signing the Golden Book at the City Hall. 


The exhibition Fourth Generation, which opened on the 29th of September 2022, is the first major solo exhibition at Cukrarna Gallery. It is also the first exhibition to show the work of a leading artist on such a scale, and the first exhibition of his work in this geographical area. It includes a thorough, balanced and comprehensive presentation of both sculptures and paintings. In addition to drawings, paintings and sculptures, there is also a black mural made in situ, which was created for the gallery on a 74-metre wall under the artist’s supervision by three students of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. It took 210 hours of work and more than 540 sticks of charcoal.

It is typical of the artist to accompany his exhibitions with an original text, and the current catalogue is no exception. He writes about the exhibition: The exhibition has been set-up in four movements. This synthesis stems from the choice of the fourth movement, which I have called Arte dello squallore (Art of Squalor). In my work the word squalor has various implications, one consists of the historical moment in which we live. During the dark years, in the eighty-fifth year of the previous century, I felt this condition of a dark life deeply, as if we were in a tunnel, a tunnel which would open into the White Year of ’89, when I went from black to white: white was at the end of the tunnel. On the global level, the ’80s were a truly dark period, which I believe is

currently returning. There was new light when the Berlin wall came down in ’89, but today

we find ourselves once again in that tunnel, even more tragic and dark. This is why I believe it is important to highlight the topicality of the years in which the works were born. We have returned to that period and I believe it is the right time to reexhibit those works. I called them Quarta generazione (Fourth Generation) because my artistic trajectory is linked to life, mine and that of others. Mutations are continuous and they occur within me, within my person, in relation to my growth, but also the growth of society. I am always different to how I was before, despite the fact that I am still me. Because of this, I recognise that there are passages in my work that are even generational, as if I were stimulatingly a father and a son, a teacher and my own student.

The exhibition offers a glimpse into the “four generations” of Pistoletto’s artistic oeuvre – from the 1961 self-portrait, which gave rise to perhaps his most recognisable series, the Mirror Paintings, to the Minus Objects, which were the first indications of the Arte Povera movement. Among them are some of the most iconic objects, such as Venus of the Rags (1967). The first floor of the gallery is additionally dedicated to the so-called white sculptures from the 1980s.

On the second floor there is a multitude of large sculptures made of anonymous material in dark colours, a remnant of the 1980s, the Cold War, a dark period. Our times have the same gloomy feeling – the period after the pandemic, the era of economic crisis, environmental catastrophes, the era of the decline of moral values, the era of the decline of civilisation. As the artist pointed out in the first guided tour of the exhibition on the 29th of September 2022, “we are living again in a time in which we need to rethink our creation, and art has the ability to do just that”.

The display concludes with the linking of the present and the future in the Third Paradise project, which has been the focal point of the artist’s work since 2003. The symbol of this engaged project, which has been stimulating social debate and illustrating the forces of social transformation for two decades, is the transformed mathematical sign for infinity. With it, the artist reflects on diverse interpersonal relationships, draws attention to the need for coexistence and the assumption of individual responsibility towards fellow human beings and nature, and at the same time places life at the centre of infinity. It is represented by a sign with a large circle inserted in the centre or intersection of the two circles of the sign, thus creating the symbol of three paradises. The first paradise is where humans are fully connected to nature, the second paradise is an artificial paradise created through science and technology, and the third paradise represents a phase of humanity that is realised as a balanced connection between art and nature. The Third Paradise sign has seen many different manifestations in different parts of the world, and was the first artwork to be depicted on the glass pyramid during  the artist’s solo exhibition at the Louvre in 2013. This symbol designates the 21st of December as the day of rebirth, the day on which we should all participate in the responsible transformation of society.

Michelangelo Pistoletto is a revolutionary, one of the founders of the Arte Povera movement, which fundamentally changed the field of art in Italy. His work was a revolt against the commodification of art and an attack on the value paradigms of the political, economic and artistic system of the time. With his projects, intellectual work, and genius for bringing people together, he has left a highly distinctive mark on both the Italian and international cultural space. 

The curator of the exhibition, Alenka Gregorič, wrote in the catalogue: “Throughout his artistic career, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s creative production has been at the heart of revolutionary new trends in contemporary art both in Italy and beyond. He has used art as a tool to express his progressive ideas and views of the world, and as a medium with the potential to change the established ways of life. His

projects encourage reflection on the urgent need for greater solidarity among people and consideration for the natural world. He conveys his viewpoints and critical ideas through his artworks, interventions and performances as well as texts – many exhibitions and catalogues have included his essays or interviews with him, shedding light on his thinking and his interpretations of the works.”