ERASURE ART – GIVING PRAISE TO EMILIO ISGRO

 

 ITALIAN ARTIST EMILIO ISGRO and UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS: 

THE RONAWEAVE REVOLUTION

by Rosanna Albertini

 

 

Emilio Isgrò, GRANDE DIZIONARIO ENCICLOPEDICO / GREAT ENCYCLOPEDIC DICTIONARY, 1969, Indian ink on printed book in box of wood and plexiglas 100x41x67 cm  Photo: Cristian Castelnuovo Courtesy Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milano

Remaining words: “passando da  312.000 a 314.000″ ” going from 312.000 to 314.000″

“riprendendo le dottrine platoniche della reminiscenza e della trasmigrazione delle anime” “bringing back the platonic doctrines of reminescence and transmigration of the souls”*

Words, and the arts, he says, are the essence of democracy. Emilio Isgrò started erasing printed pages and images around fifty years ago. Lines and lines obnubilate the words that had covered the paper like legs of insects, calligraphic bodies of the most movable and fleeting of human activities: thinking and writing thoughts to reach other people who are not in the room, and never will be. 

A few words remain. Some fragments of images still visible. “A word is a petal of the soul”, wrote Jabès. Isgrò saves very few of them in his garden. He plays with them and with language, art needs space, renovation, a long way of discoveries: words and images testing their limits, replacing each other, hiding, sometimes pretending an imaginary game: if you have two red squares, in which one is Trotsky going to fall, when he wears a red suit? 

Emilio Isgrò, MANIFESTO COMUNALE / MUNICIPAL POSTER 1974, Indian ink on printed poster in box of wood and plexiglas, 100×76 cm Photo: Cristian Castelnuovo Courtesy Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milano

 

Emilio Isgrò, DOVE CADE TROTSKIJ / WHERE TROTSKY FALLS 1974, Acrylic on canvas mounted on wood, 59,7×104,5 cm  Photo: Cristian Castelnuovo  Courtesy Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milano

IN WHICH ONE OF THE TWO SQUARES DOES LEV DAVIDOVIC TROTSKIJ FALL WEARING A RED SUIT?

I have never met Emilio Isgrò, I wish I could. I want to talk to him.  If, inspired by him, I erase the enormous volume of words and voices that try to describe and reasonably explain what’s happening today all over the world, I’d like to stop the flood, but I can only see something that is terrifying and spellbinding. A potential of liberation … spread by the ronaweave. And I am not able to send away the image of a gigantic specter made with numbers of sick or dead real humans. My daydreaming has the lightness of unreal things. When I see doctors at work in emergency rooms, and I am face to face with them, then I am in the belly of the monster. Nobody expected that nature herself might start erasing. “Natura matrigna,” wrote my grandchild from Pisa, determined to become a doctor. But your erasure is different, dear artist, it opens space for thinking as the art of desire, and art as the desire of a journey beyond codified ways of thinking.                                                            

Emilio Isgrò, HENRICUS KISSINGER, EX 1974  Emulsified canvas  125×160 cm Photo: Cristian Castelnuovo Courtesy Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milano

“HENRICUS KISSINGER, EX URBE PECHINO ADVENIENS, EX AEROPLANO DESCENDIT. SUB VESPERUM PRAESIDEM NIXON CUNCTA EDOCEBIT”

 

Emilio Isgrò, NEGLI OCCHI DI BEATRICE / IN THE EYES OF BEATRICE 1979 Acrylic on canvas
79×79 cm  Photo Cristian Castelnuovo  Courtesy Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milano

 

Emilio Isgrò, PURGATORIO XXVI /PURGATORY XXVI 1983 Acrylic on printed book in box of wood and plexiglas 40×50 cm  Photo: Cristian Castelnuovo  Courtesy Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milano

“SODDOMA E GOMORRA!”; “VACCA”      “SODDOMA AND GOMORRA!”;  “COW”

 

Emilio Isgrò, BERTRAND BARERE DE VIEUZAC 1979, Acrylic on canvas 80×80 cm Photo: Cristian Castelnuovo  Courtesy Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milano

“Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac, detto l’Anacreonte della ghigliottina, muove un dito nel rosso vestito di rosso, con molta nostalgia del verde. Tarbes, 1841.”   “Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac, called the Anacreon of the guillotine, moves a finger in the red wearing red, with acute nostalgia for the green. Tarbes, 1841.”

 

The past is a quite recent shadow, a pillow left after the night, we can still feel it touching the skin. As I go out my steps are counted, I say hello to the dogs, my face is covered. Cars are back, two fire engines scream like red elephants, birds still fly in formation. Humans avoid contacts. Smog. The careless freedom of going and doing has been erased. It was nice to be spensierati. No equivalent in English. More or less: out of the cage of thoughts, bipeds with wings. 

We live under the tyranny of not being too puzzling, both to ourselves and others … But above all it is when the pressure to understand is taken off that the most valuable words are spoken or written; the act, the struggle to make oneself intelligible must therefore be some kind of distraction; in psychoanalityc terms, some kind of defense. The words that matter most are the words we don’t understand. ADAM PHILLIPS

When you mentioned Pasolini, dear Isgrò, and it was about revolution: “Only the revolution can save the past,” and you added that today there is no past anymore because we don’t have a real revolution of habits, customs, of the living, you were right… a few years ago!  Here we are, a revolution is happening, so far rather a scarecrow with shredded clothes, but the wind blows.

Democracy, al least in the US, where I live, has become the home of institutions fermenting on their foundations, desperately trying to respond to this natural challenge of life or death. I call it ronawave like the chicano members of the LA community. It’s a word with flesh. The whole country quivers with emotion once more dipping fingers into fundamental, violated, human rights. No more quietly appeased. 

Erased, erased, erased is the silence. 

Every day brings new yellow butterflies on a small tree with yellow flowers. 

Los Angeles is home to me. So are Milano, Pisa, Napoli, Venezia, Paris, whose smell I can feel at the distance, just while thinking of them. The ronawave erased borders with no ambiguity: there are none in our souls. History, maybe, could be pushed aside. If a future remains, this present will be a revered past.

 

Emilio Isgrò, SPINOZA 2002, Acrylic on canvas 120×190 cm  Photo: Cristian Castelnuovo
Courtesy Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milano

A RED STORY     by Silvia Guastalla

Heart, imagination, reason. Let’s ask for their help in this time of uncertainty. They’ll listen to us.

This red story by Emilio Isgrò reminds us that life is a space in which anyone can write, with the signs of one’s imagination, and that imagination is a faculty that frees the power of existence and makes us masters of ourselves. For Spinoza, the philosopher who Isgrò makes appear and disappear in this large red color field, imagination is a virtue, not a defect in our minds, if accompanied by analysis. 

Imagination, as capacity to think about what doesn’t exist, and reason, that is awareness of reality, are the two poles between which our freedom to be human beings moves. And red is the potent color that symbolizes our ability to use our hearts.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

EMILIO ISGRO – LA CANCELLATURA E ALTRI PARTICOLARI, Opere 1966-1993, Catalogue Studio Guastalla Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Editions Graphis Arte, Milano, 2012

ADAM PHILLIS, Equals. Published by Basic Books, © 2002 by Adam Phillips

*It’s a funny coincidence that precisely these doctrines are an irreverent disguise for the eighteenth century intelligence in a small book written by Montesquieu, L’Histoire véritable. The first (and unique) Italian edition was translated by me, with some words about transmigrations at the end of the book. Elvira Sellerio, A Sicilian publisher, made the book exactly as I asked, and published it in the Blue collection. I was thrilled. The Blue collection was my favorite among very many.

CHARLES-LOUIS DE MONTESQUIEU, Storia vera, Translation and note by Rosanna Albertini, ©Sellerio Editore, Palermo, 1983, 1992.

EDMOND JABES, Le Livre des Questions, © Editions Gallimard, 1963

INFINITY FOR A CHEAP PRICE – Alberto Albertini Photographer

L’INFINITO A BUON PREZZO — Alberto Albertini Fotografo

Text by Alberto Albertini edited and translated by Rosanna Albertini

Photographs by Alberto Albertini

Tired color.

By necessity the  color is forced on the canvas. Slithering on the board the brush forces that scant color to stick on it. 

Faded images cooked by a still sun, drawn by weariness or by sublime detachment from the matter. The idea hung to the board, feeble. The color as well is thin not to be heavy on the essence, as if of weariness it could fall down…

Giorgio Morandi in Alberto Albertini’s words. 

—1949—

I PHOTOGRAPH, THEREFORE I AM (by Alberto Albertini)

“What are you going to do with your photographs?” my friend Ralph asked me. I was embarrassed! Never asked myself about it, more disquieting questions did haunt me, the existence of happiness for instance, but not this question, despite some undeniable connections.

Why do I photograph? If I think that human works only exist when brought to the public, I did not make my photos public, does it mean they don’t exist? They exist a little bit, for that complex part of me that needs them: a need! An infinitesimal calculation, a complex equation… meanwhile, once in front of a certain thing you can’t just let her there as if, quitting without taking a photograph, you would let her disappear. As a matter of fact it could happen: if you don’t see her you can’t prove she is still there, it’s only a probability. 

Beside, there’s the desire to possess, to preserve the things you have seen in a form different from memory. They can’t slip out of your eyes anymore. You are perhaps satisfied with the illusion that things are at your disposal so they placate an absolutely vague and useless, although necessary, desire. They enter an unconscious sphere to make it more lively, to fulfill your inability of properly placing the event in a check box that others have but you don’t, a check box that becomes a sort of arbitrary infinity but pleasant and satisfying for a cheap price. “What’s the message, what do you want to say with your photographs?” Nothing at all. The exterior side is there, the photograph! The pleasure of frame, forms, lights, and especially the intimate space, connecting to all the things the unconscious asks for without defining them.

And the click? An instant, and you take possession of what you see and of what escaped from you only to find it again later, when examining the photo. To stop time. My next project starts from here, if I can find the means: to go blindfolded with someone accompanying me to an unknown place and photograph always blindfolded. The problem remains of the arbitrary choice of the place made by the person accompanying me. 

Then e-phones have arrived………………

—1944-1946—

…perche nell’intime mie vene il tuo essere si sarà fuso… NERUDA 

…because in my intimate veins your being will be melted… 

The PC waits for me showing one of the images downloaded in sequence on the desktop. She lies on the grass, her breast swollen with milk, looking afar, not thinking? Her lips almost smiling. She is surrounded by ivy and vine leaves. Maybe there is no house around there, the road, the world. 

Or in this one, her hand covers her forehead to keep the sun far from her eyes. The hair over the right cheek, regular features in her face, she looks afar… Each photograph tries to give a life to my unconscious intimate visions. Here for instance, in a clearing, she walks on a trace of a trail, the sun grazes the branches separating the clusters of leaves, then lighting the meadow and sideswiping her transparent dress, a custom made world like in the following, where she goes down steps made of crumbled stones, a useless stair because the house collapsed.

I look at the floor, a leg of the table, the light switch. I hesitate to go to sleep, I don’t like the unproductive waiting before sleep, and prepare some reasoning to reduce the boredom. Yet when I lie down I see distorted faces of non existing people, sneering monsters changing, replacing one another. Am I still awake? Did I learn how to dream awake?

Always emanation made me curious as a concept and a substance: a bulb emanates light, yes the sun as well, and light seems evident, but what is it? Uranium emanates X-rays, antennas radio waves, but untouchable, impalpable. What’s this stuff traveling through space in the absolute void, yet bringing heat from there! Women also emanate, not smells, even if, they emanate a fluxus, a mysterious perception embracing languid. 

Once more today I got through the balance test: to slip into my pants standing without support, a risk, but I must know.

Like in the photograph under the two birch trees. She sits on a stone bench, the sun traces spots of light on her. She wears a dark periwinkle dress falling on her as if it was liquid, she leans indolently on the tree as if waiting. This other instead brings me back to the darkest time. A beautiful black and white portrait. The eyelids just a little more lifted look at misery, and desperation. That period comes back to me and I live in it again.

Emanation, emanation, the beginning of enchantment: the emotion of the first contact, to be together, woods, landscapes, wind, nature. An emotional storm and later she finds herself with the belly. Deceptive, absurd, it shouldn’t be allowed to cheat like that. I would have separated the two things: to make love now one takes the pill, and to make children there is artificial insemination.

 Why so many photographs?  A desire of possessing maybe, the need to grab the mystery. She sits on a twisted stump among the Fregene pine trees. The sun is low and hits her face frontally, shadows bring out her figure but her expression is hard, thwarted. A double existence? The emanation toward me and her own private that I never could have discovered? Some signs, for sure, outline her personality, yet they are very far from revealing her complete character, her thoughts. I wonder, aware that I can’t answer, what kind of world is swarming in her. Did I believe I was the only one with an inner world? I never shared it, it’s in my solitary nature to keep in my intimate space, but her, in what world did she live? And did she want to share it? An unbridgeable difference could have emerged. A calculator, her projects only came up at the right moment, and at the same time she used to calculate the moves not to disturb her deep indolence that was also an invitation.

Who knows if Leopardi knew that the sparrow’s song from the bell tower wasn’t a pastime, but a sexual call? At the end of the season he would have stopped. Everything is so much slowing down! But yet I would like one more click, and for what? The fan remains over there with open arms, isolated and useless. Some light starts filtering,  while my effort to get up from the armchair is harder than the sun’s effort to raise: reading the paper makes me tired because of my bad vision, or maybe not, my autumn is more advanced than the meteorological one! The doctor prescribes to me eight different medicines, pills, capsules, drops, injections. I refuse. The doctor insists and I reply that at my age I can afford to do it, somebody enters, who? It was a dream. I believe I would do it for real. 

Cati let me kiss her for 100 daisies but she was eleven and I thirteen. Rossana, years later rumors spread she was a nymphomaniac and committed suicide. Lulli, about her too people said she took her life in Merano. Fiorella was my secretary in the seventies; a hematoma in her brain left her disabled.

The rain stopped, what a quiet, I’m almost going to sleep. I looked for, but I can’t find it anymore, the goodby note by Giovanna. I knew where it was for a long time, then… it followed me all my life. We were only fourteen, what did we know? What did I know, for Giovanna knew it and wrote it: will you forget me? Victim of the macho culture at that time ruling undiscussed, I had seen the situation as my first conquest and after all, at that age, only kisses on those lips a little humid and slightly soft. It’s my impression that her text was copied from some love letters manual although this doesn’t move the problem. She said: …we loved each other… will you forget me? I never saw her anymore but her note keeps repeating to me: will you forget me? Will you forget me? So I couldn’t forget her. Being my same age, she could still be alive, perhaps it’s she who forgot me!

 

FOTOGRAFO DUNQUE SONO  (di Alberto Albertini)

Il colore stanco.

Un colore costretto sulla tela per necessità. Il pennello che striscia sulla tavola costringendo quel poco colore a restarci appiccicato.

Immagini sbiadite cotte dal sole immobile, disegnate con la stanchezza o con il sublime distacco dalla materia. L’idea appesa flebilmente alla tavola. Il colore sottile per non gravare anch’esso sull’essenza, come se di stanchezza potesse cadere… 

Giorgio Morandi nelle parole di Alberto Albertini 

“Cosa te ne fai delle fotografie?” mi chiese un giorno il mio amico Ralph. Imbarazzante! Non me l’ero mai chiesto, mi sono posto domande più inquietanti come l’esistenza della felicità, ma non questa, nonostante che qualche relazione sia innegabile.

Perché fotografo? Se penso che le opere umane esistono solo se rese pubbliche, io, le mie foto non le ho rese pubbliche, allora non esistono? Un pochino esistono, esistono per quella parte complessa del mio io che le esige: un bisogno! Un calcolo infinitesimale, un’ equazione complessa…intanto, davanti a una certa cosa non puoi limitarti a lasciarla lì come se tu, andando via senza fotografarla, la lasciassi scomparire. E di fatto potrebbe anche essere, perché se non la vedi non puoi provare che ci sia ancora, è solo probabile che lo sia. 

Non basta, c’è il desiderio di possedere, di conservare in una forma diversa dalla memoria le cose che hai visto. Non ti possono più sfuggire. Forse ti soddisfa l’illusione che la cosa è lì a tua disposizione e placa un desiderio assolutamente vago e inutile ma necessario, entra in una sfera del subconscio per animare di più, per colmare l’incapacità di collocare in giusta misura l’evento in una casella che altri hanno ma tu no, una casella che diventa una specie di infinito arbitrario ma comodo e soddisfacente a buon prezzo. “Ma che messaggio vuoi dare, che cosa vuoi dire, con le tue fotografie?” Niente. C’è l’aspetto esteriore: la fotografia! Il piacere dell’inquadratura, delle forme, delle luci, e sopratutto l’intimo, il collegamento con ciò che l’inconscio chiede ma non definisce. E lo scatto? In un istante ti impossessi di un tutto: quello che vedi e quello che ti è sfuggito ma ritrovi dopo, riesaminando la foto. Fermare il tempo. Da qui parte il mio prossimo progetto, quando troverò i mezzi: essere accompagnato bendato in un luogo ignoto e fotografare sempre bendato. Rimane il problema che è arbitrario da parte dell’accompagnatore la scelta del luogo.

Ma poi sono arrivati i telefonini…………….

Il PC che mi attende mostra una delle immagini che ho caricato in sequenza sul desktop. Lei è sdraiata sull’erba, il seno gonfio di latte, lo sguardo lontano, non pensa? La bocca quasi sorride. È circondata da foglie d’edera e di pampini. Forse intorno non c’è la casa, la strada, il mondo.

Oppure, in questa, si copre la fronte con la mano per riparare gli occhi dal sole. I capelli le coprono la guancia destra, un viso regolare, guarda lontano… Ogni foto è il tentativo di far vivere le visioni intime del mio inconscio. Per esempio qui, in una radura, lei cammina sulla traccia di un sentiero, il sole entra di striscio tra i rami e stacca i gruppi di foglie, illumina il prato e di striscio il suo vestito trasparente, un mondo su misura come anche nella seguente, lei scende una scala di pietre frantumate, che non serve, perché la casa è crollata. 

—1944-— 1946—

Guardo il pavimento, una gamba del tavolo, l’interruttore. Esito ad andare a letto, non mi piace quell’attesa improduttiva prima del sonno, mi preparo qualche ragionamento per renderla meno noiosa ma una volta disteso mi appaiono volti deformati di persone inesistenti, mostri che ghignano cambiano si sostituiscono. Sono ancora sveglio? Ho imparato a sognare da sveglio?

L’emanazione mi ha sempre incuriosito come concetto o come sostanza: la lampadina emana luce, si anche il sole, ma la luce c’è è evidente ma cos’è? l’uranio emana raggi x, le antenne onde radio, però non si possono toccare, palpare. Cos’è questa roba che viaggia nello spazio, nel vuoto assoluto eppure è di li che porta il calore! Anche le donne emanano, non gli odori, anche se, emanano un flusso, una percezione misteriosa avvolgente languida.

Anche oggi il test equilibrio l’ho superato: infilare i calzoni in piedi senza appoggi, un rischio, però devo sapere.

Come nella foto sotto le due betulle. È seduta sulla panchina di pietra, il sole traccia macchie di luce su di lei. Indossa un abito pervinca scuro che le casca addosso come fosse liquido, è appoggiata al tronco indolente come in attesa. In quest’altra invece si ritorna al periodo più buio. È un bellissimo ritratto in bianco e nero. Le palpebre appena più sollevate vedono la miseria, la disperazione, quel periodo mi ritorna e lo rivivo.

Emanazione, emanazione, inizio dell’incanto: l’emozione del primo contatto, stare insieme, boschi, paesaggi, vento, natura. Un uragano emozionale e poi lei si ritrova con la pancia. Ingannevole, assurdo, non si può barare così. Io avrei separato le due cose: ora per fare l’amore si usa la pillola, per fare i bambini la fecondazione assistita. 

Perché tante fotografie? Forse un desiderio di possesso, il bisogno di afferrare il mistero. È seduta su un tronco contorto nella pineta di Fregene. Il sole basso colpisce frontalmente il viso, le ombre disegnano la figura dandole rilievo ma l’espressione è dura, contrariata. Una doppia esistenza? Quella dell’emanazione verso di me e quella propria privata che io non avrei mai potuto conoscere? Certo, ci sono indizi che delineano la personalità, ma ben lontani dal mostrare il carattere completo, il suo pensiero. Mi chiedo, sapendo di non poter rispondere, quale mondo brulichi dentro di lei! Credevo di possedere io solo un mondo interiore? Non ho mai voluto condividerlo, è nella mia natura solitaria serbarlo nell’intimo, ma lei in che mondo viveva? e voleva, condividerlo? Sarebbe potuta emergere una differenza incolmabile.

Calcolatrice, faceva i suoi progetti che poi emergevano al momento opportuno e contemporaneamente calcolava le mosse per non infastidire la sua profonda indolenza che pure era un invito.

Chissà se Leopardi sapeva che il passero sul campanile non cantava per passatempo ma per richiamo sessuale e terminata la stagione avrebbe staccato? È tutto così rallentato! Eppure vorrei avere ancora uno scatto, ma per cosa fare? Il ventilatore rimane lassù con le braccia aperte, isolato e inutile. Comincia filtrare un po’ di luce, io invece fatico più del sole ad alzarmi dalla poltrona: la lettura del giornale mi stanca a causa della cattiva vista, o forse no, il mio autunno è più avanzato di quello meteorologico! Il medico mi prescrive otto medicine diverse, pillole, capsule, gocce, iniezioni. Io mi rifiuto, il medico insiste e io replico che alla mia età posso permettermelo, entra qualcuno, chi? Era un sogno ma penso che lo farei davvero.

Cati per 100 margherite si era lasciata baciare ma lei aveva anni 11 e io tredici. Rossana, anni dopo dicevano che era ninfomane e poi si era suicidata. Lulli, anche di lei dicevano che si era suicidata a Merano. Fiorella era mia segretaria negli anni settanta ma fu colpita da ematoma al cervello e rimase menomata.

Non piove più, che tranquillità, quasi vado a dormire. Ho cercato ma non lo trovo più, il biglietto d’addio di Giovanna. Per lungo tempo ho saputo dov’era, poi il tempo…mi ha seguito per tutta la vita. Avevamo solo quattordici anni, che ne sapevamo? Che ne sapevo io, perché Giovanna lo sapeva e l’ha scritto: mi dimenticherai? Vittima della cultura maschilista che allora imperava indiscussa, avevo preso la cosa come la mia prima conquista e poi in fondo, a quell’età, solo baci su quelle labbra un po’ umide e un po molli. Credo che lo scritto fosse copiato da qualche manuale di lettere d’amore ma questo non sposta il problema. Diceva: ….ci siamo amati….mi dimenticherai? Non l’ho mai più rivista ma il suo biglietto mi ripete sempre: mi dimenticherai? Mi dimenticherai? Così non ho potuto dimenticarla. Avendo la mia età, come me potrebbe essere ancora in vita, magari lei mi ha dimenticato!

ALBERTO ALBERTINI : CASTLES IN THE AIR

Alberto Albertini :  CASTLES IN THE AIR

August-September 2019  Alberto is ninety two

from Milan (Italy)- DRAWINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS by Alberto Albertini

 

 

Note of the editor and translator, Rosanna Albertini

Alberto’s father was my grandfather, the painter Oreste. The family gave us a common humus in the same village and a pull of genes, but this blog is the place of our reciprocal discovery, challenge and collaboration. To be part of the same family is a coincidence, whereas to think and write together is a double journey, the way to question our attachment to the arts through the knotted branches of our lives. 

Each time Alberto sends me a new piece, I know that this project makes sense. The whole blog, not only the single chapters. Why? Fernando Pessoa already wrote it better than I could: 

“The simplest —but really the simplest— things, which nothing can make semisimple, become complex when we live them.” 

A sort of “shame of existing” most of the time shuts my voice off in public situations, as if having to speak out loud implied audacity. The blog doesn’t make any noise. Through the blog Alberto and myself listen to each other’s secret voice. I truly feel at home, if he also does I don’t know. I hope so. 

“The /constant/ analysis of our sensations creates a new way of feeling that seems artificial to anyone who analyzes it with his intelligence instead of with his own sensation.” (Pessoa) 

That’s why I open this post with a few lines Alberto wrote about infinity. They interestingly connect to Kuitca’s sensation of painting, in the post that precedes this one. And they perfectly fit in my vision.

The surface.

The canvas in tension immaculate.

A provocative portion of infinity, the infinite power to represent ideas on canvas. In front of the surface the dismay of tracing an essential sign that could express by itself not ideas, rather the act of opposing infinity, a sign containing every thing.

Fontana, with a slashing cut, hits this power that the surface gives off.

The surface is still there, and is not. The slash broke infinity as well as its power. It tells us the gesture, the extreme attempt at expressing by only one sign another infinity, unfathomable, of the artist.

Alberto’s canvas is his life slashed by the war, and lightened by simple things, like the castles. 

CASTLES IN THE AIR

by Alberto Albertini

I was nine years old when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released, in 1937. I believe it was the first time I saw a castle. It grew bold in the sky, arousing my fantasy, in the movie it didn’t have to be rooted on the ground. Despite the boring songs and the shaky images, a sort of hitch, the movie revealed a dreamworld that could be extended afterwards. My brain started to produce its fancies, and I tried to draw more beautiful castles, more daring.

Having the right conditions, maybe I would also have built a castle as Ludwig II did in Neuschwanstein. I only dreamed of castles by making drawings. But drawing is a privileged activity: while you do it, it allows you to travel beyond the drawing, fancying romantic stories of young women in the clearing of the enchanted wood. That’s why maybe I couldn’t learn poems by heart; they were not fantasies produced by me! In the end, to stimulate fantasy is the true meaning of reality. Why should we stop reality in one click?  To preserve the starting image of a journey. 

Castles, castles, castles…

Castles in the air, as when I dreamed of having a camera I couldn’t buy and drew it in a project, taken by the illusion I could build it; or a little later, in 1945, I was struck down by the ERMANOX, Salomon’s fotocamera from the twenties, it was already vintage. In order to buy it I wanted to make an amplifier and sell it to have the necessary money. The amplifier was made but not sold: it ended being rented by the improvised after war ‘balera,’ an unpretentious dance hall nearby. 

Heart-wrenching mazurcas, tangos and waltzes, sounds reaching us from afar as she and I leaned out of the window of our room trying to absorb the pleasure of that sadness. Desire and imagination are also good for building and inventing as I eventually did: dreams in a drawer from which sometimes one takes something out. Because an intense activity of imagination requires time, if one doesn’t have enough time, it happens that his brain follows two directions at the same time: taking care of the job with the mind away from it, thus running the risk of losing the job. It happened to me just when I was beginning to go back up.

My conversion, nevertheless, was never complete. The business trips were a perfect opportunity: I could quickly abandon my contact person to get the train to the airport, glad when I saw from the window a profusion of broom flowers. I could breathe! And what about brooms near Lake Trasimeno?

Such alternative work can be also practiced quite late in life, but it’s less satisfying of course, one can’t throw himself too far and eventually makes do with sensations, atmospheres. Not memories! I detest memories. What are they for, to be stirred by happiness again? Certainly not. Facts existed, there they stay. Atmospheres are something else: a smell of wood’s sawdust instantly evokes the sawmills of the alpine valleys, the pinewoods. For a moment one feels there. Or the smell of the sea…

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Roofs in Corso Garibaldi, from his window.

I take my time reading the newspaper, then I stop and start looking at the objects around me: bookcases, books, photographs, memories piled in containers that I will not open; boxes, playthings scattered on the shelves blocking the access to books I don’t care of looking for, or on hold to be shelved. It will not happen. My big screen PC contains a life, my life taking photographs: I have in mind to select them by subject, to make virtual albums. I will certainly do it. There are also the paintings but I don’t see them, on the side walls. Their presence is enough to keep my mind at rest. The sun makes a square of light on the wooden floor that reverberates heat in the room, the window open, the morning air still pleasant. 

Twenty, twenty-two years in such an intimate island so much inside the city, almost unreal, to go down and communicate, to go up and meditate. How much more time? Not so much, it can’t be, yet I take it in wanting to exalt sensations that age is wearing out. What can be done in order to have such a long life? a lady asked me while waiting for her number: to have a project, a destination, a purpose! still I have some projects, if I don’t hurry I can keep them to prolong my life. 

I know I’m not eternal, I’ve started to feel my years a while ago and yet I also feel I’m eternal, who knows. Who knows who I really was, some remorse resurfaces, is it possible to live with nothing to regret? I can stand the stains spread on my consciousness.

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Outline of the nocturnal city, from his window

Late in the night, from the window I see the street, it’s almost empty. Somebody comes by. A few windows are lit: didn’t they go on vacation? What are they doing still on, at that time? 

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Looking out the rear windows of his building

Bibliography

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, composed by Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper in the city of Lisbon. Translated by Alfred Mac Adam, Exact Change, Boston, 1998

 

ALBERTO ALBERTINI : DISASTERS

DISASTERS 

 by Alberto Albertini  

(Father and Son – Oreste and Alberto n.2)

DRAWINGS ALBERTO ALBERTINI MADE AS A CHILD

About the drawing of a falling airplane. Since Alberto was born in 1927, the following events started when he was about ten years old, more or less in 1937, and continued. Besano, Lombardia

The beauty of a disaster is fascinating, upsetting and attractive. Certainly not for the victims, but for us it’s incomparable. Attraction comes from breaking the usual routine, brightening up the attention by a sharply different happening. And something more is there —I believe— something dug up from unconscious or previous mental habits: hidden desires of revenge, failed achievements…

I was fascinated by disasters from my early years, they were in the air. At school we received fascist and military culture: we had to learn about muskets, grenades, anti gas masks and the complete military rank from simple soldier to general! I was never been able to learn it, but in the meantime the subtle pleasure of disaster was crawling in me. 

With Giorgio, who had a lot of toys and a great electric train on which he used to keep apples to dry, we used to produce railroad disasters: they were his trains. Had they been mine — I desired them so much — I don’t think I would have treated them that way. I made up for my deprivation by drawing more innocuous scenes. Giorgio and I also loved to take pictures of tanks hit by cannons. Tanks were the prevailing toys, but I was attracted by the caterpillar tracks, that gave the possibility to go everywhere, even off road. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving forward, I transformed an old little game my father had played with me into a complete military construction. Father used to put a match into a small tube, then using another match’s flame he heated the tube’s bottom and pfff, the first match was shot out of the small tube! Thanks to my inclination toward building, I moved to using bigger brass tubes and made a carriage with rubber wheels from other toys: a miniature cannon that I could drag. Such evolution involved the problem of the explosive substance that I fabricated following the instructions in the Sonzogno handbook. Actually it was a handbook for pyrotechnic work that I had bought in order to prepare the black gun powder: 75-15-10 saltpeter-carbon-sulphur. I understood from this that pyrotechnics could be more interesting, which I successfully undertook showing the blaze to the girls, more than sending rockets into space. I paid special attention to Micky Mouse’s whaling ship that I reproduced in wood in miniature, but this too had a small cannon with a harpoon. 

Recently, in a short autobiography in third person, Alberto wrote:

We consider superfluous to talk of the early years, our childhood because, although embryos of the future are already there, (at age five he conceived and made a net of trenches to gather chestnuts without bending his back) we believe that this is what normally happens in everyone’s childhood.  Only the stubborn time of adolescence brings the steady intention to proceed with a project. Which one? He, at that age, loved to say that he was a renaissance man four or five centuries late. And for that reason it would have been impossible for him to embrace all the arts and sciences that were possible in the renaissance, provided one had a special desire and a lot of brain. 

I hope you get the irony. My uncle Alberto is 92 and lives and works in Milano, Italy.

BELLINI and MANTEGNA : FAMILY LIFE

having derives from another’s possession

Transformation, where true possession takes place,

Transformation, all transformations, man’s furnace,
crucible of patience,
I say all waiting is pure patience
If these words be spoken at the crossroads of space!
(The voice of the Karaw,  African praise poem)

ANDREA MANTEGNA, Presentazione di Gesù al Tempio, c. 1453, tempera su tela, egg tempera on linen, 77.1 x 94.4 cm  Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
   © Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

GIOVANNI BELLINI,  Presentazione di Gesù al Tempio, 1470, olio su tavola, oil on wood panel, 82 x 106 cm
Fondazione Querini Stampalia di Venezia   © Fondazione Querini Stampalia Onlus – Venezia

HAND OF THE FUTURE

by Rosanna Albertini

Pure patience in me had evaporated. It was early June and Venice was as hot as Africa. Yet I was cooking patience in my crucible as if my love for Venice were floating on the laguna, waiting to reach at least one place, one image calming my senses. Eventually I found two. Right now Venice is a theater for lost souls, a market of cheap, repetitive masks and glass beads to feed the savages, a park of shaggy grass surfaces, Chinese Cafes and bridges and floors trodden by a million feet. My self was an empty basket quickly filled with nausea from lack of space between humans, and disgust in front of German kids filling their mouth with water and spitting it brutally on the pigeons. The charming place where I had lived in the early 70s was gone.

“One participates in things (understands their language). In this condition understanding is not impersonal (objective), but extremely personal, like an agreement between subject and object. In this condition one really knows everything in advance, and the things merely confirm it. Knowing is reknowing.” ROBERT MUSIL

You have been here already, haven’t you, you know where to go, right?” I crossed the entire third floor of the Querini Stampalia palace, the art gallery, as fast as possible, attracted by a magnetic force toward two paintings, or the same painting made twice, the first by Andrea Mantegna, the second about twenty years after by his brother in law Giovanni Bellini. Noticing I was spellbound, the museum guard, an old Venetian, couldn’t wait to tell me the story.

 

PREMISE: The two versions of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple were painted when Venice was at the peak of its power and splendor: 1453 and 1470. Venice was the second biggest European city after Paris and the richest. Jacopo Bellini, Giovanni’s father and an artist himself, who was the head of the most interesting and successful “bottega” in Venice, will be my principal narrator. His slightly strabic, dark and piercing eyes, look at us from center of the paintings. He is a grumbling man, for good reasons.

The two paintings are family portraits. Bellini enlarged the group with two figures. From the right: Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna are the young men (self portraits), Simeon the priest not identified, Jacopo Bellini the father, Jesus is the baby boy born from Mantegna and Jacopo’s daughter, the Madonna a symbolic figure with no name, at her left Nicolosia, Jacopo’s daughter and Mantegna’s wife, the last woman at the left is Giovanni’s wife. 

Because both these paintings underwent five centuries of transformations in the restorers’ hands – Mantegna’s background was probably blue, hard to imagine now – I will avoid conjectures already deployed by art historians and experts of technology, often contradicting one another. I will stick to the story. Not long ago Venice was still permeated by whispers and talks in Venetian, flying around like a wisp of wings. We are in Bellini’s bottega.

 

Jacopo (father)          Would you close the curtain please? I saw the usual shadow coming up from campo Santa Margherita. Yes, I know you like him he is a good artist, but I don’t want Nicolosia to see him and besides, I do not want to scuffle with her.

Giovanni           Cossa vusto, father? What do you want?  Antonello da Messina gave us access to the oil color making he learned from the Flemish, so we learned to make more luminous works, almost sparkling. He is charming, has curly hair and big eyes. Think of the business. 

Jacopo          I do, but, Nicolosia is my daughter, she just gave me a boy to adore, Mantegna’s sun. Maybe a son of ambition rather than love, with marriage Andrea bought his freedom from his adoptive father Squarcione and got his own studio in Padua. It’s true the family painting he just gave me as a thank you present is still mat, quite sculpted on linen with perfect proportions —he always loved the colors of ancient sculptures, and the stones’sensuality. He is so good he doesn’t need oil paint. The other guy from the south instead uses every kind of trick. Tempera, you know, is still my favorite. He likes pretty much to slip under the skirts…That’s why he came to Venice, our putee (unmarried girls) are wonderful. Oh, the boy painted by Mantegna is a mummy, a cocoon. Antonello could give me another grandchild… can I be a collector of grandchildren from the most talented painters of these days?

Giovanni           True enough, Mantegna is the master. Perspective! You are good father, and have been innovative, but he is like anybody else. Too much work in Mantua. Nicolosia is young and lonely. Did you notice his self-portrait in the right corner? A tired face. He is so meticulous. Admirable, no stencils, no cartoon. I keep learning from him. Who knows if in a far away future people will understand the emotional depth of each detail, his ability to make lively figures out of lines and brush strokes, almost revealing their souls’ precision with egg tempera!

Gertrude Stein          I am thinking of attacking being not as an earthly kind of substance but as a pulpy not dust not dirt but a more mixed up substance, it can be slimy, gelatinous,  gluey, white opaquy kind of thing and it can be white and vibrant, and clear and heated.

Jacopo       Whose voice is this? It makes me nervous. I’m talking about men and women. Not my language. 

Gertrude Stein           I begin again with telling it, the way I feel resisting being in men and women. It is like a substance and in some it is as I was saying solid and sensitive all through it to stimulation, in some almost wooden, in some muddy and engulfing, in some thin almost like gruel, in some solid in some parts and in other parts liquid, in some with holes like air-holes in it, in some hardened and cracked all through it, in some double layers of it with no connections between the layers of it.

Jacopo           Who is she? Stein? Never heard of her; familiar though, she sounds like a painter. We were saying of master Mantegna that each of his painted characters is locked into an invisible hole, inside. Six bodies together, in the family portrait, and the bottom of them is somewhere else. 

Giovanni          Starting with you, father, What were you thinking? 

Jacopo          Oh, I was jealous, I wanted to kill him for being so young.

Giovanni             For the same reason would you kill me and my brother Gentile, like Chronos did with his children? I’m for sure your son, although I heard rumors about my real mother. I don’t blame you, and I love Gentile, we often put our brushes on the same painting. Did you call him Gentile because of your apprenticeship with Gentile da Fabriano?

Jacopo           We all share the same passion. First I want to see what you are able to paint. Maybe I will save you for the business.

1470 – Seventeen years later

As the former baby is already searching a mate, Giovanni remakes the family portrait adding himself and his wife to the scene. Same structure, same figures, not at all the same imaging: this family is not sacred anymore, halos around the heads have disappeared. Mary and Simeone look at each other, Mantegna sends an oblique gaze toward his wife, Giovanni looks obliquely out of the painting, his wife and Nicolosia seem to share a secret, pensively. Jacopo looks directly at us, is he thinking of his death, that will happen one year after? And the baby is the only one speechless, probably hoping to reach his mother’s breast. 

Dresses are more simple, and colors are dominated by a light bouncing on them from the outside world. Not anymore contained in each figure like the mystery of life. “The image of each [painted] object becomes a wordless experience; and the description of the symbolic face of things and their awakening in the stillness of image belong without doubt in this context.” (ROBERT MUSIL) Then undeniably symbols move out of the hands, like the growing baby, in a world of conflicts, of doubts and uncertainties. As if by accident, or accepting fate, the painter had left the invisible hand of future modernity posed on the painting, transforming its message.

Willem De Kooning           When I used the newspapers in the paintings, it was just an accident. When I took it off, I saw the backprint of the papers, and I thought it was nice. That’s about all.

Bellini                         Mantegna

 

A legacy by Giovanni Bellini: the most remarkable students of his studio were Giorgione and Titian.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bellini Mantegna – Masterpieces face to face – The Presentation Of jesus to the Temple, Milano, SilvanaEditoriale, 2018  and Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venezia (Italy)

Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans Being a History of a Family’s Progress, 1906-1908.  Something Else Press, Inc., 1966

Robert Musil, Precision and the Soul, Edited and translated by Burrton Pike and David S. Luft, The University of Chicago press, 1990

The African praise poem from Technicians of the Sacred, edited by Jerome Rothenberg, University of California Press, third edition, 2017

Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Artists, Oxford University Press, 1991

Emile De Antonio and Mitch Tuchman, Painters Painting – A candid history of the modern art scene, 1940 – 1970  New York, Abbeville Press, 1984

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOTO DI TERRA : MARIO GIACOMELLI

typographer and self-taught photographer (1925-2000) from Senigallia (Italy)

MARIO GIACOMELLI’s  MOTHER EARTH

and my planet of leaves languages and trees meeting Anouar Brahem playing music on his oud (a Middle eastern string instrument)

MARIO GIACOMELLI, metamorfosi della terra, 385 x 278 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  metamorfosi della terra, 385 x 278 mm

Mario Giacomelli passed away three days ago of some years ago November 25th and Mario Merz who was born the same year 1925 followed him on November 3d a few years after why should it be easy to remember dates that are not not at all interesting numbers they don’t shape the history of the person nor do they participate in the natural history not to mention the natural art made with numbers which is sister to music and spirals in the shells

Dans ce progrès invincible, et comme impeccable, de la forme, … qui semble créer son temps propre, on admire la combinaison du rythme, marqué par les taches ou les aspérités régulières, et du movement indivisible. C’est là voir de la musique. Paul Valéry, L’homme et la coquille 1937
an invincible almost impeccable progress of form… seems to create its own rhythm holding spots or regular asperities and an indivisible movement that is like seeing music

each of us surfing on a limited truth flows through life where time doesn’t exist as a peculiar volume buzzing with particles it can’t be stopped until mother earth disappears in meanders of memories that remake, retell the story so many times there is not a first image anymore over unfinished thoughts

tonight I don’t feel like breathing with commas and periods

I wish words could be sensitive like Mario Merz (1925-2003) forced them to be foglie tenere di acqua leaves tender with water or Giacomelli calling his pictures foto di terra photos made with dirt  rather than photos of earth because Italians at least some of us think of ideas like odd ghosts slipping away from the physical matter of a decomposed and ruined space where the animal person looks for abstraction – freedom

it didn’t happen to me for a while this need of disobeying it makes me see words sinking into Giacomelli’s blacks and whites while written lines are traced like furrows with trees and bushes in a wood of punctuation left behind for writers obsessed with grammatical intersections their soul not knowing where to go

effortlessly ancient habits join our art as if calligraphy and drawing were only one thing sharing the same space as five or six centuries ago in hybrid Chinese paintings meant to be poems of words and nuanced landscapes

Extraordinary events came to shake suddenly the quotidian life of millions individuals. We are projected toward the unknown, with immense fears, joys and hopes. What’s happening goes beyond imagination. It took me a long time to be able to write this music. Anouar Brahem Souvenance

Giacomelli says that language becomes the environment within which the image breathes as it flies toward a new life called art

more can be seen in a landscape that is language more than anything else sometimes plowed by the peasants under the artist’s request

more can be felt through the energy that connects our hands brain and feet to the larger scene of reality with it’s musical score inviting us to listen and share our part in it

ahead of the current localism Anouar Brahem’s music is an harmonious journey of intermingled songs that seem to pick from music of every kind petals of hope and strings of voices determined to expand together in a long rope of sounds free from style traditional forms and rigid obligations for beauty herself sings from the window waiting for the prince

the wind that goes around the column
goes round inside the column
it happens when one paints an image
giving reality to an image, the house runs with the world.

Mario Merz, Lo spazio è curvo o diritto 1990

MARIO GIACOMELLI IN HIS IMAGES AND WORDS

Attraverso le foto di terra io tento di uccidere la natura, cerco di toglierle quella vita che le è stata data non so da chi ed è stata distrutta dal passaggio dell’uomo per ridarle una vita nuova…

Through photos of earth (foto di terra) I try to kill nature, and take away from her a life received from I don’t know whom and destroyed by humans to give her a new life…

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 300 x 405 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 300 x 405 mm

Signs like light tension. It is like having emptied, carved the white out and filled it with dark.

Language becomes the environment within which the image breathes.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, Pesa di coscienza sulla natura, 388 x 283 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 388 x 283 mm

The mark remains, the scar, the symbolic image of my intervention, as an act of expression to escape from a reality that does not leave space for creativity.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, storie di terra, 235 x 300 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  storie di terra, 235 x 300 mm

I wish I could slide under the skin of things, to show the energy passing through my soul and the things around me

To express the potential that overturns the real into poetry

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 392 x 298 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 392 x 298 mm

I am not interested in repeating the visible things, but making visible what filters through my unconscious.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, Le fogli, 258 x 390 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  le foglie, 258 x 390 mm

My latest ideas that are growing inside me from typography. In my latest photographs, naturally also in Landscapes, there are many apparitions. The object is always modified, but remains as a memory with the signs of the antique and present time, with a new memory, which is also that of the gesture, the movement, the document.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 305 x 404 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 305 x 404 mm

Archivio Mario Giacomelli – Sassoferrato
http://www.archiviomariogiacomelli.it

These and others  photographs by Giacomelli are currently on display at Galleria Studio Guastalla, Modern and Contemporary Art, Milano (Italy).  I went to see the exhibition because Silvia Guastalla, curator and director of the gallery, decades ago was one of my students in the Department of Philosophy of the University of Pisa. A great joy to see her again and having her this time guiding me through Giacomelli’s art.

VILLA PANZA : A HOUSE FOR ART — GIUSEPPE PANZA’S HOME

BIUMO-VARESE (ITALY)

Things have a need of us in order to exist, or to feel that they exist, and, without us, remain in a state of waiting. And hence man feels an anxious uneasiness: the pressure in us of all that has not yet been and wishes to be ― of all the unknown that asks for its little moment of thought, seems to entreat us for existence, because everything has to go that way — and as if there were some joy in telling oneself that one has been ― when one is no longer.
André Gide, Reflections

 

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      Villa Panza and Robert Wilson A House for Giuseppe Panza, 2016

 Photo: Tenderini Fotografia  for FAI, Fondo Ambiente Italiano

I gasp with surprise when young artists or people who are not completely uninterested in contemporary art ask me: “who is Giuseppe Panza?” And I feel pedantic to correct: “He was.” I would be wrong. For the first time in this blog I say with no hesitation he was the greatest art collector of the last century. But because he gave his spirit and love, almost an act of faith, to an unrepeatable, awkward collection he started when Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Robert Rauschenberg, Douglas Huebler, Antony Tàpies, Franz Kline -and others now august members of art history- were still struggling for survival, Giuseppe Panza is the living mind giving trust and home to minimal and conceptual art pieces. His name and feelings will be with them, forever. They needed him in order to exist. With them he waited, thirty years sometimes, before recognition arrived. He filled with art his house and family life. He also happened to be perplexed, not sure, not able to understand at first sight. He took his time. With Robert Ryman and Brice Marden, for instance. Suddenly, after a year he realized that Marden’s paintings were very beautiful.

Paintings made with wax, a semitransparent material. I sensed the light going into the matter and being absorbed. A matter that seemed to absorb the viewer’s gaze. It was the beginning of a journey toward the unknown, hidden by penumbra and obscurity. It was seeing the power of the matter, a power impossible to define. If one considers matter as something final, it’s impossible to go beyond. Marden opened an endless possibility.
The same is happening in the most advanced scientific researches.” (G.P.)

I visited the villa one more time at the beginning of November, the last day Bob Wilson’s video Tales were in final testing before the opening. Guided by the FAI* responsible for the exhibition, Giovanni Giorgetti, I was struck by the attention he paid to Giuseppe Panza’s desires, not to violate the sacredness of his place, as if Panza were in his small studio, on the second floor, waiting to see the finished installation. Not a museum, despite the rotation of public events, still and more than ever VILLA PANZA is Giuseppe Panza’s house, where he left more than paintings and sculptures. He helped the artists to install their work, sometimes forcing them to reveal the emotional secret of their art. Dan Flavin, for whom Panza changed some angles between floor and walls, making them curved, or worked on the windows in order to perfect the sunlight’s reflexions, avoided talking to him, only speaking with his wife. The result is the most convincing and intense experience of Flavin’s art one can stumble into.

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Artists today pay homage to Giuseppe Panza with a sort of awe: they know his spirit is there. Bob Wilson gave him a new house, American style: a tiny church Shaker-style, painted with the same exterior colors of the old house. A place of intimacy in the park, for reading and listening to the silence as John Cage would.  So many spirits among us! Out of their bodies, they grow gigantic. The trees around the little house sing their mysterious cantico which is one with the movement of the air and the sound of birds. A blue light shines inside, on a book with no words, for a man with no body. A House for Giuseppe Panza by Bob Wilson, 2016, is an act of thanks, giving back to him what he gave to so many artists.

When nights are clear, in Biumo, I see a myriad of stars. Tiny luminous points in the endless immensity of the universe. I don’t feel lost in the night, I rather feel as if someone was there calling for me, making me confident. Life comes from the infinite void. A powerful life that attracts and absorbs every thing in herself. Do not know why this call is so strong. There is no theorem to justify it, nor a theory to prove it. I can only be sure that this call is stronger than any other. I am also a blade of grass lasting one season, like the ones gathered by Löhr **. (G.P.)

・・・

New York, April 1999.  I was in New York in the spring of 1999, when the trees start growing leaves and are full of flowers. I was staying with my wife on the 37th floor of the Essex House Hotel, Central Park South.
I was higher, much higher than the Madonnina of the Dome in Milan, the highest point of the city. Only a medium hight in New York… I came for the first time in 1954. … About half of my collection has been thought of, experienced and created in this city, the southern part, poor, in a range of a few miles. Ideally, my mind, emotions and thoughts were sharing the same life as the artists living there. I have been one of the first who discovered and loved them, among thousand who disappeared without traces left behind. Maybe I am the first who loved so much what they thought and felt, the first who wanted to have many of their art works. …
Although Rothko, Klein, Lichtenstein, Flavin, Judd, Huebler, Segal disappeared, their works live and re-live in us, still alive. Buying their art I gave my self into the soul of this city. (G.P.)

・・・

In my artistic choices I always had the future in mind, never the present and not even tomorrow; something distant in time not foreseeable, completely uncertain, that I could only hope. My wife and myself were sure we made good choices, meditated, heartfelt, intensely loved. When one loves and doesn’t ask for anything in exchange, to be wrong is more difficult. (G.P.)

・・・

Beauty is a powerful force and yet not intrusive, and generous if one looks for her without ulterior motives; otherwise she doesn’t reveal herself. It is the direct expression of a superior good, she doesn’t die, and is immortal because she is not made of matter, although she uses matter to manifest herself. No instrument can measure her. She is inside every thing, from the stones to the stars, from the flowers to our mind. Impossible to measure, she escapes from scientists who only believe in measurable things. She is the invisible motor of the universe and the sparkle for life. (G.P.)

All the quotes, translated by RA, are from Giuseppe Panza, Ricordi di un collezionista, Milano, Jaca Book, 2006

There is no conclusion. I’m walking on the grass of the park, smelling the fall of leaves still green in November but tired of such a long summer. I look from afar, around the terrace which is one of the most pleasant gardens I’ve met in my life. In Italian we have a word with no equivalent in English: le lontananze. Something absent and distant, says the dictionary. In lontananza, a distance of time more than geographical, I see my village and the house where I was born, half an hour by car from Villa Panza. Hard to tell, feelings are tangled. Panza, the house, the grass, the view on the valley, they talk to me of a Lombard soul which is proud and modest at the same time; daring and quite, never loud. The stronger the passions, the more secret.
Bob Wilson made Panza invisible, as if he was present in his mind; I would like, instead, to have a portrait of him and his wife painted by Lorenzo Lotto, like The Young Man in His Study, 1527, leafing through the book of life.

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To presume that we definitely know brings us to the death of knowledge, especially about contemporary art.  The quality of art is always an emotional phenomenon, an act of love, the happiness of looking at and possessing art is nothing but this love relationship. (G.P.)

 

*FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano. It’s a non-profit foundation supported by private citizens, companies and institutions in order to protect, preserve and develop the artistic and natural heritage of Italian landscape. Founded in 1975, it was built under the inspiration of the British National Trust and is affiliated with INTO – International National Trust Organization. Villa Panza is one of the 56 sites under FAI’s wings.

** Christiane Löhr, German artist who works with dry, and fragile vegetable elements preserved in glass boxes.

VILLA PANZA was bought by Giuseppe’s father in 1935 when Giuseppe Panza was 12 years old. The building was first conceived and realized in the mid 1700s by Paolo Antonio Menafoglio, “a merchant of money.” At his death in 1768 the property was sold and resold to various owners until it ended into the hands of Pompeo Litta in 1823. The Litta family was one of the richest in Milan. Some rooms were added to the Villa, and the park was modified. Pompeo Litta received the title of duke from Napoleon for his political views, he was “a liberal and democratic spirit.” When Panza’s father found and bought the Villa, the property needed to be restored. The project was directed by Portaluppi, in the thirties one of the most prominent architects in Milan.