“The Humanity of Vangi, Works: 2000-2006″

by C.B. Liddell

Italian Cultural Institute
Closes in 34 days

Giuliano Vangi is one of the most innovative sculptors working today. Using marble, bronze, wood, glass and other materials, the 76-year-old Italian has been creating powerful figurative sculpture since he returned to Italy in the early 1960s after four years in Brazil, where he went to escape tradition and to try his hand at abstract art. With the Catholic Church as one of his most important clients — his works decorate cathedrals in Padua, Pisa, and his native Florence — Vangi has developed a style that is modern but avoids clashing with Italy’s rich artistic and religious heritage.

Tokyo’s Italian Cultural Institute is currently showing 17 works made between 2000 and 2006, and several sketches. While some of the sculptures are detailed, others have an austere rawness that allows the “voice of the material” to come through, like the rough cast bronze of “Campo Arato” (2006) that emphasizes the loneliness of the diminutive central figure. What unites Vangi’s technical diversity is a constant striving to explore the emotions of the human condition and to release the anthropomorphic qualities of his various materials, something he succeeds in admirably with “Figura in Piedi” (2006), a standing figure in boxwood whose soulful gaze seems to both implore and blame.