British artist David Tremlett returns to the Langhe with a site-specific project conceived for the evocative spaces of the Chapel of Relais San Maurizio, in Santo Stefano Belbo, a structure that encompasses four centuries of history, as well as the first Relais & Chateau residence in Piedmont.
On the horizon, in the clear and golden light of the day, luxuriant vineyards, fairy-tale castles and villages full of history stand out in a picture. We are in the heart of the Langhe, in the territories of the soul of Beppe Fenoglio and Cesare Pavese. It is right here, in Santo Stefano Belbo, that in 2002 the Relais San Maurizio opened, five stars that owes its name to the homonymous monastery founded 400 years ago by the Cistercian monks who settled there from Provence. This anniversary turned into the occasion to unveil the new site-specific intervention by David Tremlett, one of the most influential British artist on the contemporary scene. Wall Drawing for OPEN SPACE, this is the title of the work, is a project conceived for the spaces of the Chapel of San Maurizio, an architectural structure within the Relais that a meticulous restoration has returned to its original splendor. It is a suggestive space, on which David Tremlett, famous for his wall drawings made with colored crayons directly on the walls, decided to intervene in such a way as to create a magical harmony between art and architecture, internal and external: a suspended balance which emphasizes the very perception of the place through the colors and the dynamic rhythm of the composition. The artist says: “To realize this project I took inspiration from the elements of the building, from the architectural structure as from the decoration of the vault, interpreting its rhythm through shapes and colors arranged in space as notes on a pentagram”.
The wall drawing is based on two orders that follow the perimeter of the white walls: the lower one has warm and intense tones, “from reds to orange, from ocher yellow to earths”; the upper one is instead played on chromatic chords “colder, tenuous and luminous”, to emphasize the natural light that filters through the windows. The color holds together the different scales of the project, that is the past and the present of the building: it is not only decoration or background, but rather «plastic density structure», specifies Tremlett, who was trained as a sculptor. «When I visited the Relais Chapel for the first time I noticed that the vault of WHITE SPACE (original name of the exhibition space) had no connection with the walls. Now, however, the upper part of the wall drawing has a connection with the vault structure, color and shape. The lower one constitutes the base, the foundation on which everything is supported and is surrounded all around by color, light and air. In between is our horizon: this is our OPEN SPACE ». Thus, playing on meditated and rigorous spatial and chromatic balances, Tremlett succeeded in creating an ideal osmosis with the landscape, always thanks to the panorama, which from the portal of the counter-façade frames nature in all its splendor. With this project, created in collaboration with Noire Gallery, the Gallo Foundation and the Relais San Maurizio consolidate their commitment to promoting the cultural and architectural heritage of the Langhe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is in fact the artist’s third permanent intervention in the Langhe, after the Cappella del Barolo (1999) in La Morra and the Chiesetta tra le vigne (2017) in Coazzolo.