Amore libera tutti is the exhibition by the artistic duo Antonello Ghezzi that was with us between late 2020 and early 2021 in the spaces of the ME Vannucci Gallery in Pistoia.

A constant confrontation with the “other” to celebrate relationships of love and affection in a period when we are forced to keep a distance. The title, chosen by Nadia Antonello, Paolo Ghezzi and the exhibition’s curator, Manuela Valentini, harks back to the game of Italian hide and seek: “Bomba libera tutti (home free)” yells the last child, the one in the game who can free all their other playmates. Love becomes that magic formula that makes us dream, that closes the distance, that makes us think about ourselves, in the mirrors that are part of many of the works installed in the post-industrial building in Pistoia.

The main room in the gallery hosts six works. A large mirror leaning against the wall facing the entrance, reflects the viewer’s entire figure. Small illuminated words at the centre announce the title: Attesa dell’amore. (Waiting for Love). The work tells everyone’s story but also the story of a city – Pistoia – because they’ve used the big mirror that decorated the first-class waiting room in the railway station; its surface has seen embraces, farewells, awaited love and departures. In their work, the artists have restored the object’s function, hauling it out of the warehouse and using a narrative process to reactivate its poetic function as keeper of love stories.

Once again, a mirror features in the installation Scrivimi (Write to Me), a desk rebuilt by the artists, a mirror-window opening onto us, inviting us to sit down, look ourselves in the eye and start writing a love letter with paper and pen. The spectator becomes the protagonist in the work as soon as he sits down to complete the action, an action that kicks off a process that ends when the letter reaches the recipient. 

Antonello Ghezzi are activators of dreams, as we can see with the site-specific work Stringere lo spazio (di me e te) – Embrace the space (of me and you) consisting of a series of small sculptures in clay, fired with coloured glazes, and hung on the largest wall of the gallery. Viewing them close up, and reading their story, we discover that they are imprints made from the handshakes of people who, in the months prior to the exhibition, were invited to shake hands and create this sort of seal of their relationship. 

The mirror games continue in the three pairs of swings hung in the same main room. Swings made with mirrors and designed to move together in pairs, like wishing to share a moment that stops time and allows you a break from reality. Each pair displays writing specifically about traveling together, Spingersi oltreTienimi forte e Sempre insieme (Push harderHold me tight and Always together).

These works by Antonello Ghezzi always involve an element like air. The air against your face as you go back and forth on the swing, the air that has a presence in a mirror, the air that carries a letter, the compressed air in a handshake that becomes a solid imprint of love. The air as it carries us into the sky, into the clouds drawn onto other works in the exhibition, and in that Via libera per volare (Clearance for Flight) suggested by the blue light, a tribute to the fable by Gianni Rodari.

Via Gorizia, 122, 51100 Pistoia PT

Written with love by Serena Becagli