"Dentelle de Lumière – allégorie de la recherche" is the latest public commission by Adrien Lucca. It stands for a permanent site-specific intervention, geometric and non-figurative deployed on 5 big windows located outside the library of Academia Belgica, against the wall of the Accademia d'Egitto a Roma.
"Dentelle de Lumière – allégorie de la recherche" is a result of the research on natural light, glass and mathematics during 5 months of residency at the Academia Belgica.
The postmodern artist never paid attention to craftsmanship. That’s something like a nineteen-century cliché. But to me, I’m going the other way around. I really respect my craftsmanship and my hands. So even though I’ve live in this postmodern time, I probably call myself a postmodern-experienced pre-postmodern modernist!
‘Lacework of light – allegory of research’ when translated into English, Dentelles de lumière… is my latest public artwork. It is a permanent, geometric and non-figurative in situ intervention on 5 large glass windows, situated outside of the Belgian Academy’s library, in front the west wall of the Egyptian Academy, in Rome, Italy.
Dentelles… is the result of an investigation on natural light, glass and mathematics conducted during a five-month residency at the Belgian Academy. An ‘allegory of research’, Dentelles… is imperfect and like unfinished: none of its squares are real squares, none of its lines are really straight, its symmetries are never global nor exact and while repetition occurs constantly, it always involves variation.
Visible from the working spaces of the research library, the five stained glass act like symbols of a researcher’s mind or of her experience: a net made of ideas, links, obsessions, lines of thought, construction and deconstruction processes, doubt and creation. From left to right, one could imagine (1) a first vision, a web of concepts, (2) a moment of intense focus followed by (3) a period of doubt, depression and destruction, (4) a reconstruction and a return to the initial vision followed by (5) a final blooming period, something like a final result – but an always temporary and fugitive one.
Dentelles… is also an allegory of research on another level: it is the result of several investigations, into the mathematics of quasiperiodic functions or “quasicrystals”, into the optical interactions between glass and Rome’s daylight and into glass chemistry. Imbedded at the glass’ surface, white translucent stains, only a few micrometers thick, reproduce on the glass the optical effect of opalescent glass with very finely grinded zinc white particles. Nearly invisible or bright white and luminescent-like, these stains have a special relation to daylight. The thicker mineral white opaque lines have completely different optical characteristics. Sometimes, when the lines appear, the translucent stains disappear and vice-versa. Over the course of the day, the work transforms itself constantly.
The building of the Academia Belgica – opened in 1939 and almost immediately closed because of WWII – emphasizes rectangles, circles, red bricks and minerality in its architecture, in a minimalistic and elegant way. The five windows on which Dentelles… has been made were however not part of the original design, but were installed after the construction of the Egyptian Academy in front of the Belgian library – as if to protect one’s intimacy with curtains. From the beginning I sought to integrate the work from the inside and from the outside of the building. My idea was to improve its appearance while creating a meditative space in front of the library.
Since 2016, in the context of another glass artwork , I have been interested by quasiperiodic geometry and structures that I find far closer to our intimate psychic experience than conventional pattern geometry. Ordered but not periodic, discovered by Dan Schechtman, Nobel Prize 2011 “for the discovery of quasicrystals”, these “remarkable mosaic of atoms […] such as those found in the medieval Islamic mosaics of the Alhambra Palace in Spain and the Darb-i Imam Shrine in Iran […] are regular – they follow mathematical rules – but they never repeat themselves. ” After Entrelacs quasi-cristallins (2016), Dentelles de lumière – allégorie de la recherche is the second of a series of works around stained glass, natural light and quasicrystals.
Entrelacs quasi-cristallins, 2016 – see: Adrien Lucca, “chapitre 2: Entrelacs quasi-cristallins,” Mémoire d’Atelier, Edition Jeuneese et Arts Plastiques, Bruxelles, 2017.
Press release. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2018. Wed. 15 Aug 2018. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2011/press-release/>