Self-taught sculptor and artist, Lorenzo Possenti comes from Bologna and lives with his family not far from Pisa, in Tuscany, among the olive trees. He has a degree in Natural Science and exhibits his sculptures representing giant insects in several museums worldwide. He started his career by chance: a friend from university suggested he might send some samples to a Milan-based company collaborating with museums, so he started working for them and created cacti, leaves, “some pretty ugly stuff” he tells me, and realized that he could make a living out of this activity of naturalistic reproduction. With the helping hand of the Internet, in 2000, he gradually created a website and sent emails to around 300 museums he found on the web; he received an answer from two of them: the
National Park of Abruzzo and the Vienna Museum. “So I started,” he simply says. “I leapt in. No one else was making them, since they are quite complicated, but I find them easy to make. Some insects have particular twists, and you have to guess them, otherwise, the result will be quite awful; I realized I had an aptitude for this and that I worked very fast.” He started to work for customers from Japan and America, and from everywhere in the world. He never updates his website because “word of mouth is enough, if you are making a good job.” “Then I got bored, ’cause doing the same thing all the time is boring, and I’ve done a little bit of everything, also human figures for an exposition in Rome about human evolution. I have recently learned to use silicone to make skin.” He is an experimenter, an artist, it is not a matter of merely reproducing insects; he studies them, observes their habits, constantly establishing a parallel between their world and ours, even if it is actually the same world; yet he observes them in a way that is totally different from what we could expect from a person who has a scientific background and a thorough knowledge of science. “I like exploring things from a perspective which is slightly different from the common one. After studying science, I realized that there is something that goes beyond physical reality. I’m sure that what can be seen is only a reflection of something else. Let’s think about insects, for instance, as they outnumber other creatures on the planet and are also more sculptural: I’ve come to the conclusion that the immense creativity you notice when you study them doesn’t make any sense. I am not a creationist, but I have been studying insects for years, and every time I take a new specimen and put it under the microscope, I discover a whole new world. Every time you expect something and get much more than you expected. There is a sort of exaggerated creativity, not requested and not even necessary. I think that there is something beyond the physical world that governs our reality. Explanations aren’t enough to justify wonder and complexity, especially when it comes to insects. I do not know what I have learned over all these years, there is no end point, but I’m sure that, beyond science, something bigger exists, with an unrequested creativity, an exaggerated abundance.”
These intimate musings Lorenzo shared with me are the inner dialogues arising from the clarity and openness of his mind, the thoughts of a free and cultivated man, who asks questions and tries to find an answer. These musings take shape in the silence of his studio when he places a new insect under his microscope to observe and reproduce it. Such observations will be connected to an unlimited universe of knowledge and enquiries that, grouped together, make up a—natural!—work of art!
A substantial collection of his insects is on show at the Charterhouse of Pisa until the 3rd of November 2019; the scientific exhibition is called “Arthropoda. Viaggio in un microcosmo” (“Arthropoda. Journey into a microcosm”, www.msn.unipi.it/en/temporary-exhibition).
Exhibition of entomological sculptures by Lorenzo Possenti during Bologna Art City 2019
From 1st February to 17th March 2019 Galleria Mirabilia, via de’ Carbonesi 3/e centre of Bologna
VERNISSAGE with the artist on Friday 1st February at 6 pm.