No one would have thought that a bunch of simple looking metal pieces would render such organic transformation of lines and shadow.
With the presence of sunlight altering through different periods of the day, the minimal looking shell of a building’s exterior becomes a canvas of naturally conceived forms of light and shadow.
A sense of artistic appreciation and contemplation is always fascinating when art works such as Augenblick
(1997) in Cologne, Germany and Duetto (2007) on the wall of Sannomya Tower in Kobe, Japan come along.
Both works are the creations of ‘Fabrizio Corneli,’ the 57-year-old masterful lighting artist from Florence. His
whimsical manipulation of light and shadow become magnificent works of Visual Art. Corneli makes the most
brilliant use of a simple white wall by turning it into his own personal canvas. Despite the minimal sensibility of
both works, which may seem effortless in the aspect of technicality, the impact they have on viewers is so
profound and incredibly dynamic. The dimension of time is materialized in the form of natural light, which alters
throughout each day, creating ever-changing brushstrokes.
…the shadow that touches the heart…
While each viewer’s perception is an individual experience,
Augenblick (1997) and Duetto (2007) imply the constantly
changing nature of art as a timeless illustration of ‘light
For generations, architects, designers and artists have used light and shadow as elements of their creative compositions.
Louis Kahn, an American architectural master known for his preferences in the design of space and
lighting compositions said in an article ‘Light Matters,’
“Each space must be defined by its structure and the
character of its natural light. It is a matter of contrast
between light and shadow.’’ ‘Arab World Institute’
(1981-1987) is an old, yet, incredibly contemporary work Jean Novel created back in 1981 in Paris where he designed
and controlled the presence of natural light through a series of openings using technology and forms that were derived
from Arabian Architecture. It was this project that earned him the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2008.
In the art world, Corneli has proven his profound understanding of ‘light, shadow and reflection’ through the
works he has created. Captivating to so many viewers, he has mastered the seemingly uncomplicated technique
to conceive piece after piece of compelling light installations.
Corneli sets an example for designers from every discipline with his ability to capture the essences of
materialized ideas and process them into timeless and aesthetically driven works. With light as his creative tool,
Corneli incorporates movement and this most fundamental natural element generates a significant part of his
installations. One of the most distinctive examples where the visuals of shadow are reconciled with such mystique
and obscurity is Duetto (2007). Natural light casts its presence on the abstract forms of steel pieces installed on the
wall of a building as the effects begin to reconcile through time, ultimately rendering the complete shape and form of
‘The Kissing Lovers.’
At only one moment of the day when the dimension of ‘time’ works its way, the abstract become tangible.
The audience’s interpretation comes into play when interactions between the steel pieces and sunlight are
engaged with the viewers’ own sensibilities. A person’s visual perception acknowledges the changes of image
before the heart feels and the mind realizes the ephemerality and uncertainty of things. It is the truth of ‘unrestrained
change’ that causes his works to be so aesthetically unique and valuable. But Corneli does not limit himself to natural
light only; the use of artificial light in many of his interior space projects such as ‘Dreaming Woman with Animals’ (2007)
at Museum of Art Seoul National University (2010) is the manifestation of Corneli’s cognition in the art and science of
Optical Design. This particular work illustrates his capability to convey emotions, feelings and creativity through specifically
designed shapes and forms of the metal pieces. These pieces have been carefully and intricately calculated to attain the
required trajectory of the light source as well as directions of reflected light or even the clouded silhouette
of the work’s backdrop.
The end result is a work of extreme intricateness and passionate spirit. The artist’s indoor light installation projects remind
us of what Junichiro Tanizaki said in his book, ‘In Praise of Shadows,’ that Aesthetic Sensitivity of the Modern Era is
becoming more and more distant from the beauty of natural light.
…perhaps the light of the modern time makes everything
so blatantly clear while the mysterious appeal of obscurity
The beauty of the dimly lit ambience embellishes the viewers’ imaginations through the ‘Dreaming Woman’ and
the level of sophistication Fabrizio Corneli has achieved in the realm of ‘light-shadow-reflection’ has inspired
a great number of creative minds from artists, lighting designers, interior designers and architects to landscape
architects and individuals from other disciplines of design. Application or modification of inspiration may take place
and be varied to fulfill certain particularities and meet the requirements or nature of each work, but at the end
of the day, what Corneli himself said, “Light is energy
which creates forms,” explains it all.