Ode to the perfect imperfection

Ode to the perfect imperfection

On a first glance, Massimiliano Pelletti’s sculptures seem to be ancient fractions of classic art, but this Italian artist (who loves philosophy) owns these shapes by creating his own version of beauty and showing the imperfection in the raw material.

MARÍA ANTÓN: What does imperfection mean to you?

MASSIMILIANO PELLETTI: It is a very particular concept. The esthetic philosophy says that perfection is born in the exact moment of a fruit’s ripening, and thus, it is an absolutely natural process. Perfection translated into my work lies on research and in the union between iconography, matter, and the wear caused by time.

Time’s natural process and atmospheric agents that act on matter make my work mature and so they make it perfect. That balance of events creates a very strong and deep emotional element in us. 

MA: Which are your myths?

MP: I have many and most of them belong to my childhood experiences. People who worked where I do, who are not here anymore, but who have taught me a lot, even though sometimes it was just by watching them work. People who told me: do you know how many things you ignore, just because you have never thought about them?

MA: At what age did you discover that you wanted to follow your grandfather’s steps?

MP: Since I was little, I started playing at my grandpa’s workshop, he was a fine sculptor, who in the ’70s was asked to restore Michelangelo’s Pietà, when a man broke it with a hammer. I built wooden swords at that place, I started manipulating clay, but above it all, I experienced that environment, which gave me the values to appreciate beauty. A lot of time later, after studying Philosophy, I found myself remembering those games in a different, more mature and concrete way until people started calling me “artist”. I am actually still playing.

MA: You “pollute” your works with foreign objects. Is this how you distort reality?

MP: Yes, I alter them through different elements, by using different kinds of imperfect rocks, which are not compact, have cavities, and dents. I impose myself over the material, but it also establishes its rules. The outcome is a work by four hands, between the commitment I have with the rock and myself.

MA: Michelangelo

MP: Michelangelo used to live in the same area I live, 500 years ago. He was the first man to discover marble here. Every morning I visit Pietrasanta’s historical center, the city where I live and work and have a coffee at “Bar de Michelangelo”. That name is no coincidence, it is called like that because it is there where Michelangelo signed the agreement to take the marble and sculpt his Pietà, perhaps his most famous artwork. He was a great teacher and a tireless sculptor, there is no doubt about it and, even though I didn’t meet him, I consider him to be my friend.

Photo by Nicola Gnesi

MA: Favorite material...

MP: I don’t have a favorite one. Around one year passes by from the moment I pick one to the moment the sculpture takes shape. I study it deeply in order to work better with it. I don’t want to make mistakes and it is for this reason that I have to be able to express myself in the best possible way, without so much tests and without the material being precious.

MA: Which is the material you would never work with?

MP: I like the saying “never say never”, so I don’t want to leave out any kind of rock or natural material. Of course, there are some elements that are not adequate for my work, synthetic materials, like resins.

MA: When facing new materials and technology, does craftsmanship win the match?

MP: They are consolidated and we cannot pretend they don’t exist, but the hand of man and experience are essential to provide the work with a soul. Each rock has its own character, its veins, soul, and only recognition and human capacity have the possibility of working it to create something unique; machines cannot copy this, they don’t know poetry.

MA: Which factors intervene so you love a work or, on the contrary, for it to provoke nothing in you?

MP: An artwork must have strong emotional or enjoyable components in order to wake up fascination in me. A work of art must make me smile and through that simple grinning face you make when you see something that communicates and transmits emotions. I love a work when I feel a little envious for not having made it myself.

I want to transmit my world, my passions, and the feelings that overpower today’s society through my work, by approaching nostalgia

MA: What do you think is the best and the worst within the art world?

MP:  There are many beautiful things. I appreciate artists who approach art considering it a civic gesture: even being in harmony with our world is an art gesture. However, I don’t like it when art uses animals or living creatures in general, to create “works of art”, “performances”, etc.

MA: Can an imperfect God create a perfect man? You wondered some time ago, what do you answer now?

MP: That question was born as a question and today it is still the same, I was never able to give an answer. Some years ago I made a marble goddess with a dental retainer, just to suggest people how this question works: can an imperfect God create a perfect man? Today I think that perhaps this divinity can’t create anything, but if he does, he can only create imperfect beings, like we are.

MA: Which artwork would you love to own?

MP: I really like ancient art, archeology, and geology. But if there is one work I love is the marble sculpture Fiducia in Dio, by Lorenzo Bartolini, created in 1833. This work is extremely poetic and expressive, it reminds me that we have to believe in something, whether it is perfect or not.

MA: If you could go back to any time, which one would you choose?

MP: I have asked myself that question hundreds of times. I am nostalgic and I love history, so I would like to live where I live, but the early 1900’s. It was a simple life. Many people worked with marble. After the working day, they would normally wear their best clothes and gather in the city’s central square to have a glass of wine and talk about work, the weather, about their lives. A more simple, yet richer life, like the one my grandparents lived. I would like to try that.

MA: What would you be if you weren’t an artist?

MP: I don’t know if I could do another job so well, because it is not only my work, it is my passion, my story. I do it because I feel it in my heart. However, if I wanted to choose something else, I would like something related with geology or archeology, something that would keep me working with my hands inside the ground.