Ex Occidente Lux

testo in Italiano



“Only ardent patience will bring
the attainment of splendid happiness.”

Pablo Neruda

It is a figure of uncertain sex – as close as the shadow of its enigmatic smile comes to being that of a woman – and timeless, a descendent in a single life of an Aztec matron with shaved head and elongated profile, of a character in a Philip Dick novel and of an armless Hellenistic statue. Sister Patience (2001) has its weight shifted lightly to the left, embedded in its head, a halo of sacred plates and at the feet wears the symbol which unveils its name: a circle of rope – time no longer as a yoke which bleeds meat and fries nerves, but as a memento, as a sense of possibility in the cycle of man. Time, which always escapes and slips further away in an era of expectation, of the necessity to do it all, now (maybe to avoid the erosion of some centimeter of beach at the tide line of death), loosens with the virtue of calmness and tenacity: with the talent for waiting. The message that she brings sounds uncomfortable, it speaks of humility and submission to individual destiny, of an interior time opposed to the anxieties of the overheated world, of a quiet that cauterizes pain and restores faith.

And the three sisters The Graces (2002), take on an almost magical symbolism. They scrutinize the horizon to search for their own destiny. (Like the three brothers in in the Russian fable Tzarevna-ljagushka, illustrated by Bilibin in 1899, in which their dining table becomes an archetype that divides the sky in three parts while the brothers, locked back-to-back, shoot arrows into the unknown.)

Our heroines without features, are the initiation of each story, of each voyage in the world, of each choice. And for this reason they cannot be old, they are intrinsically young. They are not reduced to logic for producing and doing. Not having arms is a sign that their lives are still pages to be written. They meet joy and misfortune as it comes. They are a triangle, an unstable division that subverts the four cardinal points. It is enough to move a step and the diagnosed line of shadow from Joseph Conrad is exceeded. Today man sees himself as the Great Decider, the Great Builder of himself. In the past, popular culture opted instead for a softer more integrated attitude with nature, more permeable to supernatural balances. So, it is not by chance that we speak about the “waves of destiny”: opposing the surge of the sea one is lost, to go with it one may go far.

These two works shown would be enough to place the surrealism of Toparovsky in a magical-fantastical territory with strong spiritual veining. In his work, the human figure, always central in essence and imagery, gladly changes symbolic significance: one sees the series of the Hanging Man, that reminds us that that the macabre Tarot card, The Hanged, and his splendid bronze candelabra, Carrying Cocteau, composed of a turtle, a cactus, a twisted column and small prehensile hands that catch the melted wax- a hymn to the collaboration of the animal, vegetable, mineral and human worlds, a perfect chain of worlds, that rule fire as Atlas rules the universe. In many works the absence of limbs brings rawness: the torture of ghostly art that tells the story of a man who fights to be a man even when the circumstance is inhuman.

 Toparovsky lives in California, that land elected to to be the polygon of inventions which have the power to change civilization: gold, the myth of the cinema, protests, gays, the computer, eco-thought, the politically correct, the vegan diet… Maybe for this, Toparovsky left New York, where he was occupied with restoring books and making book art, for his time in Los Angeles, where he has been working since the early 80s.

Here, where no one would dare to discourage the most daring dream, he has found the free space that gives him permission to build a complete career- which goes from making sculpture to designing parks and gardens. He has chosen a traditional field, cast metal sculpture in which he expresses himself in figurative terms, but he doe not confine himself to a proscribed alphabet, he has widened his own quest on the one hand toward the profound, exploring symbology, and on the other habnd to look at worldly relationships, always demonstrating great attention to the resonance of his work in context to its installation.

But here, in the heart of Southern California, he has found, most importantly, the perennial spring of prime precious matter: the light. (That condition of oxygen, together with effulgent warmth, color, scent and consistent euphoria that is the ambience in this place and which is difficult to explain to someone who has not been there.) Light as nutrition to create. Light as the primary energy opposing pain, confusion, and the tones of gray. Light as courage and essential beauty in which each person can be reborn.

The surrealism of Toparovsky places itself outside the norm and sketches pain with realistic ink: the bronze characters of Toparovsky, sometimes covering themselves with ropes, leaves or torn rags, sometimes nude, are far removed from the white Pop shapes of George Segal and instead, make us think of the molds of the victims of Pompeii shown in the Archeological Museum of Naples, examples of tragically spontaneous sculpture, irrevocably representing the physiology of pain and death. However, he takes no pleasure in black humor- like that which comes from the macabre ballets of Roland Topor (in nomen omen: topor, in Russian signifies axe. The surname of Simon changes the “o” to an “a” and therefor softens the sound of the slaughterhouse.)

Waiting, they are all figures waiting. They announce the profound advent of a different light upon the nape of our necks. We don’t know, it could also be the announcement of a return, the realization of a prophecy. In the book On the Things One Sees in the Sky, Jung places the phenomenon of the sighting of UFOs together with the neurosis of the Cold War, but also notes that the visions seem to occur to those who don’t believe in them. The force of a myth breaks a thousand censures and a thousand filters. The salvation of man is in the light, that for an instant blinds- at least for an instant- the ghosts that live in the interior abyss of man.

Eugenio Alberti Shatz
Milan, January 200