Thon Loree

Sculptor Andrea Forges Davanzati magically transforms marine life forms into stainless steel art.

The strange beauty of algae, larvae, paramecia, microscopic seaweed and other denizens of the deep assume gleaming new forms in the hands of Italian sculptor and designer Andrea Forges Davanzati. These creatures of abstraction live and move again within the solid yet graceful arcs of stainless steel.
He draws artistic inspiration from the Sea, where fresh ideas are suggested by the forms of shells, sponges, seaweed, and a multitude of plants and animals. The key ingredient in transforming these delicate life forms into permanent art is often stainless steel, treated in unusual modern technique, obtaining organic mirror shape surfaces.
“I work with stainless steel for the obvious reason that it resists adverse atmospheric conditions, such as rain, but primarily because of the way it reflects light,” the sculptor says. “I love the way it conveys subtle and varied gradations of reflectivity when polished to a mirror finish. Light is the chief consideration in creating different surfaces such as matte or mirror; to me, these are not unlike the effects achieved by drawing on paper with charcoal.”
Stainless steel also can be cut and formed easily, Davanzati explains, and it machines and joins better than other materials, all of which reflects its structural integrity.
“When I bend stainless steel with my hands or with machines, I can keep a regular progressive curve. Stainless possesses something akin to molecular lines that are all oriented in the same direction.” This is not the case with iron, he points out, which does not have what he calls “nerbo,” that is, a nervous and sinewy inner tensile quality. “It’s as if stainless steel were always in a state of tension.”
The artist’s most famous and spectacular piece, Paramecium, is in fact a mobile. “In this, as in all my sculptures, I try to create movement through touch.” The work, which won first prize at an art competition in Pavia, northern Italy, consists of various self-balancing steel tubes that can be assembled in different sizes.
Another piece that suggests a living object is the Rotifero, which its creator describes as his first “balanced form.” It consists of two rings and three rectilinear segments. With a gentle tug, the piece wobbles back and forth until it finds its center of gravity and rests.
Limulus (Latin for horseshoe crab) is no less renowned. The 3-metre-long stainless steel form was created using metal inert gas (MIG) and tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding.
Ciliato is the name applied to various mobile sculptures made of stainless steel tubes with casted lead inside. The Ciliati represent a microscopic seaweed found in salt water.
Forges Davanzati also used stainless steel for one of his larger architectural pieces, the 5-metre-tall Sestante. It represents the sextant, a navigational instrument, and is on display in the town of Cesano Boscone, near Milan.
As it happens, Luciano Fassina, a consultant to the Nickel Institute who works out of Centro Inox, is one of Forges Davanzati’s many admirers. “I’m astonished at his ability to explore natural organic forms and transform them,” Fassina says. “Of course, as a contemporary artist, he also has to work with the resources of his day, and stainless steel is clearly the material that suits Andrea’s artistic interpretations and assures durability in time.”
Forges Davanzati continues to transform ephemeral abstract structures into polished lines, highlighted in the elegant glimmerings of stainless steel.
Thon Loree