11 June - 25 September 2016

The personal exhibition of Helidon Xhixha in Pietrasanta under the Patronage of the Bozzetti Museum and the Municipality of Pietrasanta.


I am very pleased to announce that I have  been invited to exhibit in the historic Tuscan town of Pietrasanta. The exhibition is scheduled for this summer, from June to September 2016, and I want this show to represent a new direction in my practice. Pietrasanta has a staggering history and, as we all know, is famed for some of the best quality marble in the world. For hundreds of years the people of Pietrasanta have been quarrying this beautiful white stone, which has been favoured by artists such as Michelangelo all the way through to some of the leading contemporary marble sculptors. For this reason, as homage to the location, I have decided to start creating some of my own works in marble. I will experiment by fusing marble with the more familiar stainless steel, a combination that I am very intrigued to see the outcome of, as well as a visual representation of my transition between the two materials. I will also make some works purely using the local marble. I want these sculptures to maintain my signature stylistic approach; in the same way that my stainless steel sculptures are manipulated and distorted, I want the marble to retain that rhythmic abstract aesthetic. Exhibiting in a place with such art-historical importance is a great honor and achievement and therefore I want to show my respect for the town by referencing their significant past whilst at the same time displaying a transition in my own practice. “ -  Helidon Xhixha


Alchemy - The nature of matter


For over two millennia, the philosopher's stone has long been the stuff of legend. Alchemy was born from a passionate desire to take base elements from the Earth and, through a mysterious process of transformation, result in precious metals that were, at the time, associated with the gods and higher entities.  Although the gold and silver never materialised, the idea of a process that changes or transforms something in a mystical fashion remains as pertinent as it has ever been, and it is from this very idea of transformation that the artist Helidon Xhixha has taken inspiration for his upcoming exhibition in the cultural and historical Tuscan town of Pietrasanta, globally renowned for its local marble and superior metal foundries.


 Until this point in the artist’s career, Xhixha has focused primarily on the use of steel. The sublime nature of his artwork's appearance has been concerned with a mirror-polished surface that allows for light to dance across their exterior, creating a fascinating situation between the realms the physical and the nonphysical. Long stretches of perfectly smooth, reflective steel are repeatedly interrupted by areas where the metal has been manipulated and distorted. Xhixha’s sculptures in metal have provided an exciting stage upon which light and reflection can dance with an effortless fluidity, a function that has evolved to become an integral aspect of the works.


Faced with the challenge of exhibiting in the marble capital of the world, Xhixha has chosen to showcase new approaches to his practice that will pay homage to their location whilst remaining true to the artist's work to date. In relation to the ancient practice of Alchemy, the artist will start to develop outwards from a singular starting point, into new areas that have not been previously explored. The alchemists were considered dreamers, they were locked in an eternal search for the impossible in the attempt to make the world a better place. Xhixha’s practice is now developing in the same manner, rigorous experimentation is causing him to make new discoveries in both the approach to his work and the materials that he can utilize. Alchemy was considered a meeting point between philosophy and science, and it is exactly these two schools of thought that are enabling the artist to grow his practice, pushing it further and further into unknown and exciting territory. A strong theoretical background, merged with the physical creation of the works, acts as the driving force behind these latest developments. As the 16th century physician Paracelsus famously said, “Alchemy is the art that separates what is useful from what is not by transforming it into its ultimate matter and essence,” this exemplifies exactly what Xhixha is attempting to display through this new exhibition; experimentation separates the useful from the futile, proactivity allows us to progress, progression enables us to discover the new.


For any artist, the opportunity to exhibit in Pietrasanta must be considered an achievement of the highest order. For hundreds of years the people of Pietrasanta have been quarrying the beautiful white marble, widely considered the best quality marble in the world, which has been favoured by artists such as the High Renaissance greats like Michelangelo, all the way through to some of the leading contemporary marble sculptors of today. Beyond this, the local area has developed into a thriving artist community, becoming one of the most desirable places for creative people from all around the world to reside in. Naturally, with this new artistic community, Pietrasanta has become the home of arguably the best metal foundries in the world, including the famed Artigiani foundries.


Whilst the artist will continue to display his iconic stainless steel, upon which he has built a formidable reputation, Xhixha will also exhibit new works made of marble sourced from the local quarries, as well as experimenting with bronze, utilising the areas celebrated foundries. By maintaining the abstracted formalism that Xhixha has so successfully developed through advanced techniques in metallurgy, the artist will now turn to carving the white stone, as well as casting with bronze, in order to develop new dialogues within his work, as well as displaying a level of diversity that has not previously been seen.


His well known steel sculptures are as much about the light that bounces and reflects from them, as they are about the alloys from which they are produced; in this vein, the new approach to marble is as much about the earth that it is taken from, as they are about the material itself. The exhibition can be understood as a fusion of forces beyond the mere materiality of the objects, but a body of work that brings into play higher entities. Earth and light were two of the four fundamental elements of the alchemists, and through the medium of this exhibition they come together in an effortless marriage, a type of fusion akin to the beliefs of the early alchemists.


Set against the rich backdrop of Pietrasanta, this exhibition will represent an exciting development in the artist’s career. In context, both the marble and bronze works will pay their respect to their surroundings whilst also showing a new diversity in Xhixha’s practice. The artist has clearly chosen to fully embrace the situation in which he is exhibiting, working from both the surrounding quarries and with the famed foundries, the utmost respect is shown for this deeply cultural dwelling. Xhixha is also displaying a fascinating new approach to his already established practice. By taking pre-existing ideas and materials and, through an intelligent process of transformation, reproducing them through all together new mediums, the artist will showcase his skill and parallel the age-old scientific and philosophical ideas of alchemy. -  Dr. Diego Giolitti