The exhibition PAOLO SCIRPA. TRUE LIGHT - SIMULATED SPACE (at the Galleria Ravizza of Milan and at the MAAB of Padua, until 18 January 2013) curated
by Marco Meneguzzo not only provides an overview of the artist's oeuvre, but it also represents a starting point for reflection on his role in the history of Italian contemporary art. His rich and expressive artistic personality has been brought to new attention by a wave of interest in the 1970s, and in particular to the optical art that was pioneered at that time.
Paolo Scirpa (Syracuse, Sicily, 1934) has always taken the dimension of an inner quest, outside any forms of restrictive categorization.
From the 1970s, he moved from a two-dimensional iconography to the modularity of an objective space, transformed by light and mirrors into a poly-objective format. His work moved towards a dimension in which light and space become the immaterial and spectacular principal themes. The artist evidently wishes to depict not so much real light, as "ideal" light, namely the idea of infinity, and so he therefore uses the means available to him, fluorescent tubes and mirrors. Over the course of the years, he has also created large works highlighting the negative aspects of consumerist society, as well as installations, and paintings which could be described as two-dimensional depictions of his Ludoscopes.
The works in the show comprise a selection of Ludoscopes, works with inbuilt light sources that Scirpa made from the early 1970s. A system of optics creates the illusion of reflections extending to infinity. The light from neon tubes, folded into 'Platonic' geometric shapes, is reflected by a series of mirrors to create paths of light that generate a virtual space beyond the work's physical confines, simulating a conceptually infinite space.