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ALESSANDRO MENDINI



I still do not know who Emilio Ambasz exactly is. As a man and as an artist, he answers to no predictable pattern. He is, first, a man who shields his tenderness with a transparent layer of aggressiveness plated over his substantial timidity. Second, he is an exquisite poet. Then he is a land artist, then a farmer-cum-engineer cast in a biblical mold, a boundless juggler, a pioneer who suggests the image of mythologies yet to come, and finally the designer of sophisticated terrestrial paradises for modern times. Perhaps he is a prophet, obstinately setting himself in the role of 'Anti Master.' Or, maybe he is an empirical genius, as seen, for example, when he endowed the office chair with vertebra. His projects, as large as unpolluted continents or as small as flexible ballpoint pens, play a game of running away from us and from themselves, resembling a bed of self-deprecating narcissuses that project on the water their own alternately self-admiring and self-amused image.


The seduction by Emilio's projects comes about from relegating man-made culturally conditioned forms and colors to the background in order to favor meadows, lakes, valleys, flowers, sunsets, suspended gardens, and skies with colors like Tiepolo's white, blue, green and gold. Thus, not only as an artist but also as a person, Emilio is a 'unique case.' Impossible to pin down, impossible to classify, he continually appears in a different guise. An inexhaustible inventor of metaphors Prince Charming of his own fables he is also the mystical master of ceremonies of a ritual, of a liturgy, and of an astrology created by himself. Thus, Emilio grants us only one certainty: that of his absolute singularity and originality.


This gentleman, this playwright actor, this cat, this child, this little bird, this nest as a person, as a professional, and as an artist is then, I must repeat, a unique case. His very large and complex body of work doesn't seem to seek the friendship of the academy, nor care to contribute to the canonical history of architecture, design, and language. It seems, rather, to be born from an obsessive search for primary principles, from a careful and wise observation of the surrounding reality, from an identification of humanistic problems perceived as only a hypersensitive instrument such as Emilio can a sort of imaginative and scrupulous sensing device that gets to the core of all questions, that strives to satiate the essential quest for techniques and images that men have, that registers the original sense of beginning as well as the anthropological and ecological tremors of a modern world. The passion and pragmatism he offers in opposition to prevailing simple-minded functionalism is, perhaps, a result of his direct lineage or ancestral connection with the Cyclopean anti-monumentalism of Buckminster Fuller. The work of Emilio is not post-Modern. His vocabulary is not made up of references and ready-made sentences; thus it is free of the decay of fashions and styles. He proposes as principle and method, as archetypal idea, pure and primary, the notion that an arch is an arch, is an arch; that a man is a man, is a man; and that a house is a concept that should contain both its past and its future, the beginning and the end of all our dwelling memories, whether true or imagined.


Perhaps, after the efforts we have undertaken to understand him, a few strong messages begin to emerge from our magician's top hat. Emilio believes deeply that architecture and design arc mythical acts. He proposes a different, emotional method, a passionate and sensual mode of existence. His thoughts and images are based on the primitive but eternal process of being born, falling in love and dying those things that have always moved the world, those irreducible drives that always return. Who then is Emilio? He is a dreamer who dedicates heart and soul to men while longing for angels. Or perhaps...





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