Claudia Parducci: The Architectonics of Life and Loss…
By Gary Brewer
Claudia Parducci is an artist who uses the image and idea of architecture to convey both the collapse and chaos of war as well as to communicate endurance and survival, of how we create spaces to house our human needs, hope, love and dreams. She creates work in a thematic series; her ideas are an umbrella under which she can freely take different paths to articulate ideas that are important to her. The suggestion of architecture has been a constant in her work; from early on when she was fully committed to painting as her sole vehicle, people would respond to her work and say that it had an architectural quality to it. These architectonic structural underpinnings have led her to create art that speak of instability and loss and in recent works to convey metaphors of hope and endurance. Of how we as individuals, families, friends and societies can house ourselves within a hostile environment to create structures that give us protection, and on a larger scale, that endures through the rise and fall of civilizations.
At a certain point she realized that painting was not the correct medium to convey the ideas that she had become engaged with. The intrinsic history contained in the medium, its sensual beauty, and the implicit commentary on the history of painting that arises when one applies paint to canvas, became an obstacle to her interests. She started to create three-dimensional objects, installations and other approaches to find a supple language. Claudia said when she first put down her brush and started making physical objects that it was a liberating experience that the historical weight of painting was lifted and she could more directly access what she was after. What she was after was a way to express the “amorphous anxiety” that was enveloping her. In a post 9/11 world, with wars in Afghanistan, and Iraq, and an ever-increasing dread that we were engaging in wars without end, her work became a commentary on that reality.
With time she found that she could move freely between mediums, including painting, to find the right form for the content she wanted to communicate. The first works that I saw of Claudia’s were minimalist suggestions of bombed out buildings, cities and landscapes, their skeletal remains silhouetted against a stark sky. There was a delicate balance between dark poems of loss and absence and elegies writ in an elegant hand, the paintings sensual beauty a counterpoint to the tragic visage that was portrayed. This was followed by a series of buildings destroyed in the Middle East conflicts. In these works Claudia created a large grid out of a thick heavy rope, she set up lights to cast the shadow of the grid onto large canvases which she used as an ‘armature’ to paint. She said of the shadows “I am creating a ghost like suggestion of the building. The grid becomes a building and by tracing the shadow it takes on a less specific quality”. In this series she created works on canvas, expressive gestural charcoal ‘paintings’ that suggested the bombed out skeleton of the buildings, in the middle of the gallery a large three-dimensional grid of black ropes hung from the ceiling – a blackened corpse. She said of these works “ We create these ideas of stability and order, but the world is always unstable and collapsing, and then we rebuild it”.
When she completed this series she felt a shift in her vision, that beating ones chest in outrage was not enough; Cassandra had vented long enough. With the election of Trump she felt that she no longer could afford the time to express outrage, that this seismic shift demanded a new viewpoint; how do we as humans endure in times of upheaval. History is a rough journey filled with suffering war and plagues and yet somehow we make our homes, we create spaces in which to live, both subjectively and physically, spaces to shield us from the storm that rages. In the worst of times people have endured; art, literature, music and love continue against the grim tides of fate.
From this philosophical worldview Claudia is creating an installation of twenty-three knitted pillars to represent the interior columns of the Parthenon, which was built as a Temple to Athena, the goddess of war, wisdom and craft-especially of weaving. The pillars hang from the ceiling and have been dyed a sooty gray-black suggesting fire or the ravages of time, the pillars are metaphors of endurance, structural supports to contain the shape shifting nature of life, civilization and history. Claudia tells this story in long form, knitting each column by hand, it gives them a sense of history of duration and of human touch. The metaphor of architecture has come full circle to represent its enduring character. The Parthenon was built in 447 BC and remained a Temple to Athena for millennia; it then became a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and then with the conquest of the Ottoman Empire a mosque. In the 17th century during a war against the Turks, it was used as an armory and was almost destroyed when shelling of the Parthenon ignited the weapons, though it burned for days the building remains.
The poetics of space; that a building is a vessel that becomes momentarily what it contains is a rich metaphor. The idea of architecture, of a home, a building as a container in which life unfolds through time is a fundamental arch type that is embedded in the human condition.
We live in a world that continually falls apart at the seams and we are there to knit and repair, to weave it back together. As we spoke Claudia was knitting, through this simple act, through this gesture of hope one can create a link in a chain of events that help to mend the world…