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

 

BRIAN BRESS : He Doubled Himself as a Body of Colors

B R I A N   B R E S S

About BRIAN BRESS’s Video-sculptures and sculptures

— In Lieu of Flowers send Memes —
Cherry and Martin Gallery, West Los Angeles — May-June 2017

HE DOUBLED HIMSELF AS A BODY OF COLORS

by Rosanna Albertini

We commonly give the color of our notions of the known to our ideas of the unknown: we call death sleep because it outwardly resembles sleeping; if we call death a new life it’s because it seems like something different from life.

Hi, I am Rickybird, mint, hot pink, a wintergreen Members Only, and mister Still Life, orange to blue. Although you see three figures in separate frames, it’s always me, the replica of a human body, with three different heads. They bear the burden of intellectual effort, their failure to see through unknown realities.

To restore life to art, my artist looked for visual songs hoping to reverse the meaning of what we see. He choose to hide his body and especially his head in a rigid container that makes him blind and deaf. He is a master of collage. Don’t stop there, the word only speaks technique, or combination of styles, technique again. I am not a collage, I am a sculpture that rotates 360 degrees within a frame hung on the wall. Yes, I am a body of logarithms and pixels, with no weight and no senses.

BRIAN BRESS, Still Life (orange to blue), 2017
High definition single-channel video (color), High definition monitor and player, wall mount, framed.
40.75 x 23.125 x 2.5 inches, 21:32 Loop. Courtesy of the artist and Cherry Martin Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among the many things I can repeat, from my artificial mind, there is some Robert Musil: we live “in a period of civilization that had simply filled with rubble the access to the soul.” “The most important things take place today in the abstract, and the most trivial ones in real life.” Memory is as solid a part of me as my numerical soul. I don’t give a damn if humans are faltering, or losing the sense of self. I bring simple truths afloat: I spread silence, and around my invisible skeleton I display a rotation which is only my inner clock: free from night and day, far from shadows, brushing any subjectivity away from me.

Let’s make a fresh start: my heads can be severed, then reconstructed as classic monuments of cumulative clumps of ideas, resting in peace in their sculpted form. My severed heads are white, white and impersonal as if the hand-work of the artist was forgotten. They conjure up a variety of moods —a little like the verbs moods— that you can discover walking all around the heads. Some serious, others ridiculous, over all impenetrable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men and things have the same destiny — because it is abstract — an equally indifferent value in the algebra of the mystery.
But there is something else… Oh how many times have my very own dreams arisen before me like things, not to take the place of my reality but to confess that they are equal to me in my not caring for them, in arising in me from without, like the trolley that turns at the far curve of the street.”

In all my dreams either you appear, dream, or, false reality, you accompany me.
With you I visit regions that are perhaps your bodies of absence and dishumanity, your essential body disfigured into a calm plain and a mountain with a cold profile in the garden of a hidden palace.”

BRIAN BRESS, Members Only (wintergreen), 2017.
High definition single-channel video, high definition monitor and player, wall mount, framed.
40.75 x 23.125 x 2.5 inches, 19:25 Loop. Courtesy of the artist and Cherry Martin Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is only one way my artist could see himself doubled like an alien looking at him from a distance, from a land of dreams in which my features do not have names, nor have a tongue on their own. He doubled himself as a body of colors: his unknown self.
I am his disfigured double, soaked in colors as a flower, an evergreen, a shiny fish luminous with scales, or a changeable mother pearl. Intention, decisions and the strength of will were melted, sent to another planet. Feelings remain, the certainty I exist, along with an eternal uncertainty about who am I.

I’m not the illusory image given back by the mirror: that really would be one exclusive way of seeing myself. No, I can feel my head navigating through time, embraced by million spaces. I wear the heroic, shiny helmets of Agamemnon and Achilles and Patroclus fighting around the walls of Troy, some futurist angles turning cubist maybe, some pop disguises as if I were pointing my tongue at the viewers, except I don’t have a tongue, nor eyes, nor ears, only my inner flame that makes me happy to rotate on my axis so slowly I seem still. Rush is banned in my space. I am as my artist made me, as light as a butterfly.

BRIAN BRESS, Rickybird (mint, hot pink), 2017
High definition single channel video (color), High definition monitor and player, Wall mount, framed.
40.75 x 23.125 x 2.5 inches, 24:18 Loop. Courtesy of the artist and Cherry Martin Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything around us become part of us, infiltrates us in our carnal or vital sensation, and the web of the grand Spider subtly ties us to whatever is at hand, binding us in a light bed of slow death, where we rock in the wind.”

Quotes are from Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, translated by Alfred Mac Adam, Exact Change, Boston, 1998.
And from Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities, translated from German by Sophie Wilkins, Editorial consultant Burton Pike, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.

 

 

RED FOR CHRISTMAS : JEFFREY VALLANCE

At Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles ― NOW MORE THAN EVER

SCRATCHY NOTES OF A DREAMER
by Rosanna Albertini

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Satan hotels good art 2001 Pencil and pen on paper 22 1/2 x 30 inches Courtesy of Beth Rudin De Woody and Edward Cella Gallery, Los Angeles

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Satan Hates Good Art 2001
Pencil and pen on paper 22 1/2 x 30 inches Courtesy of Beth Rudin De Woody and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles

So what does good art do in 2016 that is different from the time of the Renaissance. Satan took his revenge then more than now, killing the artists, and everybody else, at a very young age. If you take it cum grano salis, simply following your good sense, you might say ‘a lot,’ and yet there is no change in the dreamlike essence of art. Think of Piero della Francesca painted eyes looking into eternity, almost extracting their bodies from earthly, painful struggles for survival. Good artists know perfectly that names and images and facts are masks of inner uncertainties, like stickers we peel from the refrigerator. We still don’t remember what’s inside.

JEFFREY VALLANCE, The Octopus of Life 2016 Mixed media on paper with commercial labels, stickers, and printed paper collage 23 x 29 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Gallery, Los Angeles Photo: Gene Aguri

JEFFREY VALLANCE, The Octopus of Life,  2016
Mixed media on paper with commercial labels, stickers, and printed paper collage 23 x 29 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles.  Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) 2016 Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage, 221/4 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella gallery, Los Angeles, Photo

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus),  2016
Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage, 221/4 x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles, Photo Gene Ogami

The point is our presence in the landscape: and Jeffrey Vallance is the wizard artist showing our uncomfortable loss of power once our ordinary self confidence goes to hell. Satan’s most subtle intrusion. What happens then? There is no more separation between our animal self and the tentacular temptations of a rationalized landscape reducing to dead meat our hopes and desires. VONS, RALPH’S, IKEA, RITE AID, OFFICE DEPOT, HOME DEPOT, GOOGLE, you mention others, solve any problem, answer all the questions. Our red blood is spilled into money. The more tentacles expand, the more our brain is emptied, like an impersonal bag filled with surprising and repetitive acts of obedience. Economy is so ‘reasonable.’ Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel shivers in his grave. He knows he was the first to tell -and write- that real things are reasonable. He didn’t expect poets and visual artists were going to be his future fellows, even those who never read his name. It all depends on what one means by ‘real things.’

Real are the chicken scratches in Jeffrey Vallance words :

“Before I put an image on paper, I make the scratchy markings as a ground. To make these scribbly backgrounds for the drawings, first I must get myself into some kind of altered state, in which I find myself surprisingly ambidextrous. With eyes closed, both of my hands rapidly jerk across the paper, but unexpectedly my feet want to move with the same motion. The gyrations get so intense that it feels like my body is about to have a seizure. Although the process is quite exhausting, I enter into a rapture-like state bordering on uncontrollable laughter. Granted, the lines are just scribbles; however I can’t draw them the same way in normal consciousness.”

(From RUDIS TRACTUS – Rough Drawings, Edward Cella catalogue, 2016)

 

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Scared Fruit Bat (Pteripus tongamus) 2016 Mixed media on paper with commercial labels and printed paper collage 22 x 29 3/4 inches Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Gallery, Los Angeles

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Scared Fruit Bat (Pteripus tongamus) 2016
Mixed media on paper with commercial labels and printed paper collage 22 x 29 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles.  Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Squirrely Squirrel (Sciurus griseus) 2016 Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage 23 x 29 inches Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Gallery, Los Angeles Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Squirrely Squirrel (Sciurus griseus),  2016
Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage 23 x 29 in.  Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles.  Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Kittens in a Basket 2016 Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage, 22 1/4 x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles. Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Kittens in a Basket,  2016
Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage, 22 1/4 x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles. Photo: Gene Ogami

 

Images placed into such a rapturous and agitated field of signs springing from the artist’s uncontrolled hands can’t resist the frenzy dance of his spirit: whatever they represent, in their “animal realm of the spirit,”(Hegel again) a bat or a squirrel, a cat or a chicken (the eternal Blinky sacrificed to the supermarket devaluation of her single, unique living adventure), they look electrified. Estranged from the artificial mess of ordinary life on earth, terrified because they feel their skin cracking and bleeding, their fur becoming spare, drops of blood replacing their tears, filling their lips, their nose. As if exposed for what they are underneath the skin as the anatomic medical drawings of our obsessed Florentine memory. But the real one who is exposed is the artist: Jeffrey Vallance’s mental state of discomfort. His own skin is hung in every drawing. They are not the Cappella Sistina, where Michelangelo painted the laid skin of his body in a corner of the ceiling. They portray our own reality, from where dreams and values fly away like rockets beyond the horizon. “Leaving for dead in the Exterior World anything in it that is real.” Fernando Pessoa, the master of disquietude.

“The dreamer is not superior to the active man because dreams are superior to reality. The superiority of the dreamer derives from the fact that dreaming is more practical than living, and that the dreamer extracts from life a grander, more varied pleasure than that of the man of action. …
Since life is essentially a mental state [I can see Hegel’s large smile] and everything we do or think is valid for us to the degree we think it’s valid, its validity depends entirely on us. 
The dreamer is one who sends notes, and the notes he sends course through the city of his spirit in the same way notes do in reality.
What does it matter to me that the paper money of my soul can never be converted into gold, when there is never gold in the factious alchemy of life?”
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, Translated by Alfred Mac Adam, Exact Change, Boston, 1998

Thank you Jeffrey, your dreams are my gold.

JEFFREY VALLANCE, D.C. Hypodermic 2016 Mix media on paper with sticker, and printed paper collage 22 x 29 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles. Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, D.C. Hypodermic, 2016
Mix media on paper with sticker, and printed paper collage 22 x 29 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles. Photo: Gene Ogami