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Borderline Branches 3

The “Be Light” Exhibition curated by Enrico Morteo and staged by Pierluigi Cerri with the assistance of Antonio Colombo that was held in the Milan trade fair grounds during the Salone but open to the general public was, as its name suggests, dedicated to lamps and lighting fixtures. The brainchild of Cosmit, the Salone del Mobile organising committee, this exhibition was staged to draw attention to the biennial Euroluce display.  A main corridor leading off to a series of theme rooms, recreating the emotions connected with light and shade, provided a dazzling array of more than 200 lamps. The reflective backdrop further heightened the blaze-of-light sensation. But for all that, the best lamps were not included. There were no creations by Pae White, for example, the Los Angeles artist whose work was nonetheless on show for the period of the Salone at the Francesca Kaufmann gallery in Via dell’Orso in town. On display were three lamps, in three different shades of red. Their slender open arms went from ceiling to floor, giving you the unreal sensation of watching some luminous form of plant life, or a winking, shimmering piece of embroidery. At first glance from a distance, the three gigantic lamps - framed by the door and hopelessly out of proportion in the narrow confines of a gallery showroom – appeared made of traditional Murano blown-glass. Coming closer, however, you realised they didn’t have the clean-lined perfection of glass but were of some other, rougher material. Arms, pendants and lamp-holders all bore evident imperfections that gave each piece a homely, familiar feel despite their inordinate size. Pae White’s red lamps are not in glass but terracotta. Hand-made, piece by piece in eastern Europe, they appear more prodigious and painstaking than their glass counterparts, more amazing for their unexpected naiveté. The earthy imperfections that are the essence of terracotta give these lamps a more human touch. Terracotta has an unremitting materiality....

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