The work of Max Coppeta explores relationships between space, light and movement, but also aspects of illusion and deception which are juxtaposed with real elements, in order to cast doubt upon the very way we perceive reality through our senses.
While there is, on the one side, a Coppeta who is deeply influenced by the Platonic concept of art, not as a representation of momentary passions but rather as an aesthetic illustration of logos, a form that is perfectly commensurate in its parts, as the product of the numbers which have given rise to its form, there is on the other a Coppeta who bears witness to a Hegelian need for art, as a means of expressing something that could not be expressed without it.
Coppeta’s art belongs to an experimental avant-garde in the sense of a research aimed at a conceptual result, as an acquisition of something unfamiliar, something unknown. In other words: an art that is deeply abstract and intellectual, in the sense of being a child of the intellect.
His research centres on two aspects: bodies that float in space and therefore relate to space, and the relationship with light.
Within the context of the former we find the concepts of suspension and movement, where movement can be limited to the relationship between an object and space (as in the work titled Flow) or the movement of the observer in front of the work, which makes it possible to perceive it in all its complexity. To perceive the work fully and in every aspect means to experience or enter into a physical relationship with it, a relationship that takes place objectively, in a definite space between work and spectator. This element of Coppeta’s art is linked to the international movement of kinetic art. It is a matter of a “variable perception” or a perception that is dilated through the effects of many different external factors, which come to play in the relationship between work of art and spectator. Among them that of light, either natural or artificial, appears to be a determinant factor in conveying the perception of the work as a whole.
Light is an essential factor in the creative process of Coppeta. And in this context that the artist’s research is closely related to that of the Californian artists of the so-called Light and Space movement.
The work is transformed by the light that penetrates it, reverberates in it or is irradiated from it. Light can create, as the case may be and depending on the situations, illusion, reality, deception and artifice, or play the role of signifier for the object as such: giving the object a precise meaning which may be real or symbolic.
Among the objectual signifiers of Coppeta’s work we find the “shadow” that becomes a work in its own right when it is created by the light in a space or on a surface. The shadow is not only, or is no longer, an essential part of the work but becomes a work of art in its own right.
The shadow is not an illusion but reality in every sense of the term and the concept; a reality that changes, becoming objectual, acquiring a physical substance represented by the surface on which it is projected, becoming one with it and with the object which has cast the shadow. An element suspended from a nylon thread like the artificial drops in the work titled Curves of Tension, projecting a shadow on the wall, acquires further objectuality by merging with its own shadow and acquiring a more complex dimension than the original one, i.e. a drop hung from a nylon thread. The light interferes with the work, giving something that does not exist a substance and presence. It is the light that creates the object, just as the illusion of the projected scene itself becomes an object, that is to say a film, in the movies.
Yet another theme enriches the relationship between the work and the space, in the form of what we define “suspension of gravity”; and what is this suspension of gravity if not another illusion that exists independently of the work as such? The artist explores the concepts of suspension, fluctuation and stasis that relate to the movement of a body in space; but the research is above all aimed at the power of illusion, as for instance in the case of the artificial drops that he instals against many different surfaces, and where the objects remain static and immovable in the space; the scenic effect makes them seem as if they defy all physical principles of gravitational forces.
Coppeta always balances on the thin line of demarcation between real and unreal, between truth and deception as in a theatrical performance, or even more as in the movies where everything seems real, but where everything is really an illusion.
The recreation of cinematographic illusion in a work of art plays an important role in his research: the work of art borrows the concept of illusion from the movies, but only to turn it into something, an object, that is real.
The illusion is created by the concept according to which a drop of water remains suspended in the air, thus challenging the forces of gravity that should make it fall; it floats on a taut thread or on a transparent surface, and seems to be suspended in a void. The reality, on the other hand, consists of the fact or observation that the object (the drop, the transparent cube, the glass element, the wooden arch) really exists, it is something real that has substance and can be touched and felt.
The principle of gravity as a factor that is a perpetual and immanent fact in our earthly existence is overturned or revolutionized through illusion, through a scenic effect that consists of, precisely, the artistic object which seems to defy gravity, making us imagine a permanent suspension without a point of reference or centrality. And this gives our imagination new wings, and makes us more perceptive.
Magic and artifice: these are the true central elements in the artist’s research because these aspects expand the imagination and sharpen the senses of the spectator, making the work interact with his or her emotional sphere. The entire scenic arrangement created by the artist, his end result and product created through careful scientific experimentation becomes a means and not the end of his artistic process. The true purpose of the research, its central aspect, is to reach the emotional sphere of the onlooker.
Just as movie makers do to create scenic illusion, Coppeta uses science to create a deception that obtains an emotional response, thus speaking directly to the psyche of the onlooker.
In his research Coppeta has started out with works of a platonic character based on logos, reason and numbers, to arrive at the end of his experimental and cognitive process at a Kantian concept of aesthetic enjoyment that is, as such, disinterested and free of all rational interest. He ventures into the sphere of the “Kantian sublime” of everything that transcends form and all that can be represented. Pure abstraction.