Unity and diversity in the work of Marcello Guido

                                                     The relationship of man with Cosmos is a particular case of the relationship of the Part with the Whole.  This is a basic theme of classical philosophy (The Gnosticism, Hans Jonas).

The Great Unified Theory (The GUT)


The first 50 years of the past century have been marked by the “phantom” of the Great Unified Theory (GUT).  In the sciences, with the United Field Theory (Einstein, 1928); in politics with Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism and State and Revolution (Lenin, 1917); in economics with The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (Keynes, 1936);  and in architecture with The Athens Charter (Le Corbusier, 1931).  In the arts, there had already been movements with omniscient ideas such as Futurism (1909), the Dada Manifesto (1917), the creation of the Bauhaus  by Gropius (1919).  Moreover, the Psychoanalytic Society was taking form in Vienna (1908) and a little later C.G. Jung was elaborating the Collective Subconscious.  These developments show how man was trying to obtain and find a unified definition in order to mark a humanistic “neo-renaissance”.  Most likely, Psychology and Ethnography were positively influencing a century that was destined to produce great fruits; and one that was also destined to be later refuted and proved wrong by the very ideologies, such as Fascism, Communism and Nazism that were then emerging and that ferociously brought on, only a few decades later, the utmost degradation.  Everything departed from there, from the Great Unified Theory,  which supposedly was giving sense to human existence and which, with an eagle flight, could dominate the world.  The sense of power was unlimited and brought on great goals but the explosion of the Atomic Bomb zeroed the world of that period with its immense roaring of death.  At that point of a crisis, a new critical sensibility was forming. It had already been instilled in the most sensitive spirits by the literature of senseless wanderings of the Ulysses by Joyce (1922) and of The Trial (1925) by Kafka.  From then on, the poles of attraction for all human activities appeared to be a need for unity on one hand, and, on the other hand, a need to break away from structured hierarchies.  It is in this context that both the concepts of Modern and Post-Modern insert themselves.  However, an underlying uneasiness remained and there was more and more talk about unity while a new search for recovery in the tribal and in the particular started to emerge.  And this was to happen in all fields.  There was for instance the Unity of the Nation as opposed to Federalism.  Also, at the beginning of the 1940s, the Education System divided the Academy of Fine Arts from Architecture, whereas before they were united. Therefore, the manual aspects of painting and design of the old educational system was lost and the Architect no longer needed to know how to paint.  A good example of this is given by  Jeanneret, who was a cubist painter using the pseudonym of Le Corbusier.  It is here that the first schism started to take place:  for decades it was to mark an Architecture that had already been unbound without the Fine Arts.  In recent times, this made Renzo Piano to state: “I like to stray from Architecture and to meet writers, musicians, artists, poets and whomever has a different approach to work”.   This is a clear indication of his request to go back to an operational and conceptual unity.  The atom too had been split into two, three and then four.  Now we are looking for the soul of God (the Unity) in the subatomic particles (the Bosons).   In the Arts, there has been a transition from schools such as those of the Impressionists to the Avant-Garde movements like the Cubists, the Futurists, the Dadaists, the Surrealists and then to the great personalities like Picasso, Matisse, Kandinskji, Mondrian, Malevic, Fontana, Giacometti and so on.  Globalization today has allowed India and China to enter the Empyrean of art so that it has become impossible to know all the world’s artists.  It is therefore the market that today commits itself to “separate the grain from the chaff”, while art ponders the context in which it is developed and becomes a structure.  At the bottom, there always remains a need for unity that can be explained with a bigger look at its “context”.    


At a first glance, Marcello Guido’s work can appear dissonant, atonal and, consequently, prone to a chaotic and explosive dissemination. Therefore, at a first glance and in terms of a structure, it seems that this drive of his comes from a declared liking for an art that makes its own identity out of a de-structuring, destructive concept, like the Dadaist idea of art.  He quotes Dadaism as one of his first loves since he asserts and underlines the same imperative “I am against all systems” ; while he also knows quite well  that “our head was made  round so that the ideas could move around”, as another Dadaist, Francis Picabia, once said.  Marcello Guido is then looking for his Zeitgeist when he wonders, in an interview conducted by Giovanni Damiani:  Is it possible to create space without acquiring the experiences of the past?  Do connections exist between events chronologically  distant  that express the same cultural tensions? and also: if a connection exists, how can it move effectively into contemporary action ?”.

To present date, this is the question that has torn all contemporary art.  It is an art wherein figurative and abstract painting coexist, as well as all the efforts to conjugate both forms.  Truly, if it is possible to move a form of the past to the present, this is due to a “spirit of time” (Zeitgeist} that does not go through the chronicled history of the form,  but rather finds it in its main ideals and tensions.  This has become an ordinary  server of our soul, or historical conscience, however we want to call it.  In other words, in order to make ourselves clear, a man chooses what bears affinity to him.  If the historical distance that separates him from the initial events is too big, his experiences will be similar; for sure, he will meet a thought that had been thought, as Adorno was saying.  A thought that will give him tranquility or, better, that will confirm his own existence and social communion.  The comparison,  in the above-quoted interview,  of Borromini’s Sant’Ivo della Sapienza  is quite appropriate:  it refers to Marcello Guido’s signs and graphic work,  his maps and also to his watercolor plates done by hand.  He uses the triangles in a centrifugal way but they are placed in a swirling whirl that wraps them or that at least gives a sense in the paper of a complex and articulated figure made out of the centripetal action.  Moreover,  in his snake-like and abstract-geometrical doing, he steadily returns to a curvilinear imprint which reveals a founding necessity (history)  to connect, to  “whisk up”, as per the cuisine language,  all geometric ingredients.  In these maps or graphic plates, he is closer to Kandinskji, while he still keeps the curvilinear Borrominian trait, since everything fluctuates in a-dimensional space, at least on the paper.  As a reader, as I am, of comics and of popular scientific magazines, the 11th dimension, called of the stripes, tells us that space has other dimensions and that, therefore, also the construction of the physical space is altered by our psychological perceptions.  So, Marcello Guido has another counter-altar besides Borromini: it is that of Frank Gehry who builds up a structure that on the outside is a thing while within is another.  The deconstruction of Marcello Guido’s design is still analytical and tied to the history of forms.  This attitude of his underlies a technical operational need in order to achieve a sense lost in the planning realizations.  They are  mutations of the sense of perception and, therefore, despite the affirmation of a personal civil conscience, they may clash with a deforming  “spirit of time”.  Especially, the work will appear complete in the eyes of those who look at it (Duchamp).  Is not for this reason that Architecture is made?  If I could give an opinion on the work of Marcello Guido regarding the unity that underlies the design as a project vis a’ vis the building -as a structuring of the space- it would be quoting the manner of Michelangelo, that is by taking away.  I would say that he keeps a unity of thought like a humanist although he deconstructs the tree of the architectural science in Millepiani (Mille Plateaux). Disconnected in an horizontal thought, they give democratic weight to his work  as it is considered, always and in any case, in its togetherness. As if he had not built many works and residential units but rather a unique model that although changes with the time it remains faithful to itself.  It is a rhizome-type operation connected to the subterranean routes of history more than to the present and to the fashions of the moment.  His architectural work appears, therefore, in such a way, unified and diversified, through his graphic-artistic production.