SEGNO - Mark
sign, symbol, gesture, mark (contrassegno)
Left by a mass on the surface: the print that Crusoe found on Desert Island's beach. The mark does not indicate, does not affirm, does not cancel, confiding only in the mystery where the demon flutters in ambiguity.
Left by a mass on the surface: Yves Klein sheets come to mind, the marks, Hartung's scratches, concise, pure traces produced by the claws of a perfect and diabolical creature. Twombly's mark, crazy, analogical, hallucinating, precious; that of Giacometti boring and maniacal: Tobey lucid, the rhythmical reflection of Zen thought: each mark holds a molecular of light; Tapie's furrow; the sensual classic elegance of Fontana's cut. Fine, incisively . incisive I mark but I absolutely don't want to prove anything .to speak of the mark in a broader manner would mean rewriting human history, the expression of art. From prehistory to Fontana; from the print in the sand to the scratch on the rock to the cut on canvas, through an association of images and memory, of things said, read or seen, I would like to talk about my work. It always seemed very simple and natural for me. Two or three years ago I had prepared a lesson to act as a commentary for a hundred slides to be shown at San Francisco. Recently I repeated the lesson at the Polytechnic in Milan with the same images; the commentary, beforehand so clear and explicit now appeared incomprehensible even to me.
Step by step I analysed, described the separate procedures which lead me to painting, installations, watercolour, projects, forcing myself to concentrate on the method rather than the possible significances which is not my task.
The notes regarding the projected images gave me the possibility of developing the argument and at the same time of losing myself in the labyrinth of analogies and fleeting impressions. Now, if I ask myself the reason why I wrote them I have no answer.
CAMPITURA I was unable to find this word's original root. Campire from campus, from field, to cover with wheat or barley seeds. White surfaces to be covered evenly, with colour deprived of nuances flat. A cornfield is green or yellow, all green or all yellow like having a bird's view of the various campiture of different crops: wheat, turnips, spinach (I'm losing the thread again) yellow, red, green, dark green, almost blue. I follow the route from home to school, scratch the wall, a front door, a gate, a car parked too near the wall interrupts the trace and I pick it up again to be sure of finding the way back. The mark drags, corrodes, cuts, insinuates itself, crosses, the mark like mercury squirts from sand to rock, from rock to the body which marks that same clay hand mixed in grease that passes from rock to face. Sign, ornament, tattoo, sign of caste, war, marriage, initiation, the scar witness of courage, hunt, suffering. The mark, the trail, the line which guides Theseus to the resolution of the labyrinth's mystery, labyrinth male or female sign, the line which produces labyrinths, entanglements, skeins of signs so thick as to generate absolute black.. Manzoni's crazy line, provocative and useless, in time and space; the line cannot be contained within the paper available, cannot be traced, it is only a concept.
Reference is made in the book Black Elk Speaks; to the thickest, most harmonious and secret part of the forest the witchdoctor traces magic designs with different coloured powder clays, interpreting and deriving omens from them. Afterwards every trace is totally cancelled, nothing more ephemeral, ephemeral as reading, interpretation and birds' flight.
The artist's studio unveils much to allow identification for of his work. The house speaks, indiscreetly gossiping about his owners' life, the cook's kitchen, the good artisan can be identified by the way he keeps his tools; this seems obvious to me but you definitely have to know how to read the clues. Often real and particular revelations; after having lived for years with a mark, a sign on the wall, I finally perceive its message for me. I often pick up unthinkable and apparently useless objects from the street; a crushed piece of iron, a bent nail, a playing card, a piece of wood, a false banknote from Paranà. I believe that the encounter is reciprocal and perhaps like a never ending puzzle, will it find its just place and so when its stay in the studio has come to an end I throw it away but when?
I don't know. The same happens to what I read, to what I hear in the Underground, phrases or words from idle conversations, apparently inconsistent fragments stored deep in my memory until, unexpectedly, they become useful. A bent nail once straightened can return to its original function as a nail or a tool to hang a canvas or just the right thickness to level a table. All it needs is a hammer blow or a turn of the pinchers. It is surprising how much these crumbs, the remainders of doing, have taken over and determined radical transformations within my space. I come across a screw, move a table and a diabolical subversive chain reaction takes charge, pieces gain an upper hand with all the rage and power of having been neglected for so long.
MARK ON THE STUDIO WALL. My job has constant technical rhythms; each operation within the studio has a particular characteristic and order, even over a long period. Segno, I mark the canvas with a net of pencil lines, which will be used later to decide successive coloured areas. It's easy to imagine what happens: the mark runs over the canvas's borders on to the wall where it rests, when the canvas is removed a frame of interlaced signs remains.
THE MARK OVERFLOWS OUT THE WHITE RECTANGLE WHICH DETERMINES IT. For years I repainted a wall white, the presence of these traces disturbed and distracted me from successive procedures, until I suddenly understood the searching message which the wall had been transmitting to me: mark on the wall the work's testimony.
MARK ON THE WALL TESTIMONY OF A WORK CRUSOE'S MYSTERIOUS FOOTPRINT IN THE SAND, IN THIS CASE EVEN MORE MYSTERIOUS BECAUSE OF ITS HOLLOW FORM.
Which painting has left its print on the wall? After the five or ten marked day after day. The marks have now grown more dense and layered. The questions the wall poses me are numerous.
THE MARK WHICH REMAINS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ONE WHICH DETERMINED IT? THE POSSIBILITES OF DETERMINING AN INTERNAL ITINARARY ARE UNLIMITED. THE VIRTUAL LABYRINTH ..BUT THE EXTERIOR RESEMBLES OR ACTUALLY SUGGESTS THE UNPERFORMED WORK? As if the gesture's oleo graphic trace remains, the image in the void but not of the body which generated it.
FOR WHICH PAINTING?
CORD AND MARK ON SOFT CANVAS
A stone thrown into water generates concentric marks, changes frequency; little by little the circle enlarges finally losing itself on the surface which becomes flat again.
A terrible jerk the release of hundredweights of muscle, a silver turbine, the howl of coloured prey and then silence, immobility. The crocodile lays in wait once more in this apparent calm bristling with tension. The proportion of events in the studio is reversed; a tiny stone generates tidal waves.
Years ago I used to go fishing, at night. With dawn the sea was absolutely flat, a mirror devoid of reflection, I see a boat pass which appears to glide over the water rather than plough through it and it's incredible the noise it produces in proportion to this plastic silence. Well, the traps lying in the studio generate situations which are difficult for me to control. After so much anticipation the trigger produces an enormous explosion. The mark, arrogant invades surfaces which were forbidden before. From the wall it runs down, passes, climbs, slides over canvas, paper, books, floors, hands, face and nostrils blackened with graphite. I draw and scribble automatically as Orientals pass their prayer beads.
I write or draw and the intermingling torments me, a colour especially if it contains aniline is almost impossible to cover with white.
I let the mark break out, invading, right to its apex, then little by little as it comes through the door-less jamb it departs, no energy remaining, self destructed. The sequence has its own physical characteristic, after having invaded the canvas the mark emarginates itself to the canvas borders until disappearing. These storms followed by successive quiet times, lasting for generations of work and for generations I intend cycles, a solar year. The mark is only one example; this comes about with other linguistic elements which distinguish my work. The mark has disappeared and someone presents himself under the inexistent doorjamb.
DETAIL OF A LARGE CANVAS 10 X 6M FOR THE FIRST INSTALLATION DESTINED TO BE SHOWN IN AN EXHIBITION AT THE GALLERIA BLU IN 1988. The cord mark and the graphite mark COHABIT ON THE SUPPORT AND ARE EQUAL IN VALUE.
Following the metaphor's course, almost too animistic. The sign has invaded territory, during the period '87, '88, previously totally uncontaminated; the canvases used for installations.
Specifically produced for the Galleria Blu installation: an environment I know so well (my first solo exhibition was held there way back in '75 and I have always felt comfortable there) that I thought of six huge canvases, three dyed from an intense blue to black, the others just marked with only graphite and colour waxes. An environment so familiar, as I was saying, that it pressed me into modifying its structure as much as possible, creating a structure within a structure; a kind of black stomach lined with white placenta. The cords, fixed to the canvas' four corners and in the scansion measuring 1.5 metres along the perimeter, also appear inside the canvas the pastel-coloured mark continuing.
THE COLOURED CORD DESIGNS A ROUTE WHICH CAN ALWAYS BE REINVENTED ON THE WHITE CANVAS (MOUNTED ON A SPECIAL FRAME INTO WHICH AN UNDETERMINED NUMBER OF HOLES HAVE BEEN MADE ACCORDING TO A GEOMETRICAL FRAMEWORK).
Present, past, past present, passed away I do not know if the situation is an agreeable one or not, Milan, San Francisco, Milan: studio in Milan, I fly from Milan to San Fran, Milan studio, San Fran, Kala, Poly, Kala Leaps into a past which, at times, I remember so clearly other times having to resort to my catalogue's biography.
The work's continuity, the use of the same materials in different environments, gestures and stories distinctly come to mind whether resolved pleasantly or not, I have cancelled names, lost jigsaw pieces not knowing if, along the road, I will be able to fill in the gaps.
You remember best what you want to cancel, leafing through my memories I come across something I'm not looking for. These notes were written at different times and places with different purposes, they speak of a past which is still present,.
I feel as if I have a wing tied to an arm, an anchor to a foot. Icarus split in half like a green apple. Juice rains down on to the Mediterranean, which generated the Achille Lauro fleet, the seeds, the American Bases in Sicily, a photo of Gina Lollabrigida yellowed like old fruit peel.
The Eye follows the 'roads' which have been prepared for it in the works. Until you find the truth you will be unable to correct it, but if you don't correct it you won't reach it; in the meantime don't be discouraged.
Reviser, yes, the name of this sign and Delenda is used when we need to suppress or cancel, the very same word says it and is accepted both as single letters or whole words. It reminds me of a snake who regrets having bitten his own tail.
The shoemaker doesn't go beyond the sandal. Painting and music? Music endures, ever since its birth wanting to free itself only to return, obedient as always, to the score.
If you think that I believe every word I write, say and read, you're wrong.
Painting is none other than literature by paintbrushes (Saramago said it) humanity began painting long before knowing how to read. If you don't have a dog hunt with a cat. Those who don't know how to write, paint or draw (Saramago again): just like a child. If you don't have a pen or a writing pad when find yourself in a foreign country and only have rudimental knowledge of the native language, you're a lost man. The term truth has always given me goose pimples, I'm almost in agreement with Saramago; what he says leaves no scope for choice, as if in real life choices actually exist unless determined by apparently negligible actions: how much sugar in your coffee? a moment of suspense, you wanted to say 'no' or 'one', but reply with an impulsive thank-you. From that moment your life changes, marked by remorse and unanswered interrogatives, why two coffee spoons of sugar when I always drink it without?. This theme against presumed certainties is what most South American literature is based upon from Borges onward,.
Yes .but if you have so much patience in insisting on phoning me don't expect that I hae the same to answer. I don't expect to obtain a positive or appropriate reply to each and every request I make.
THE INSTALLATION MARK
The camel's tail, the picture's proposal, the painting outside itself, the canvas that paints, the boredom of writing, the impatience to relate, the fireman's wife.
Following the same animistic metaphor of the mark expanding and contracting; the painting, held tightly by the frame's girdle putting a foot out from under the blankets.
AS THE SHEET SLIPS OFF THE MATERESS, THE SIOUX'S TEPEE CLOTH UNROLLS READY FOR A NEW ENCAMPMENT, THE PAGE ESCAPES THE PAGE. I, THEY HAVE WRITTEN AND SAID SO MUCH THAT NOW I WOULD ONLY BECOME BORED REPEATING MYSELF (AND SO BE IT)
The first installation in 1968
with what priority
The reply to the problem is so simple and if it was said of Fontana that it was the relationship between fullness and emptiness (the basis of Baroque art) then it is valid for me too but in other terms: it is the draping, the edge of the Baroque Fresco which slides over the mouldings the columns the Fresco which jumps from one wall to another, invades, flooding into space, conversing, gossiping with the environment, contesting and competing with the architecture, another border, embankment, limit the painter's miserable canvas. I have always thought that the grand chaos began in the 18th century: canvas, frame, and later tubes of paint and easel.
It is obvious that you've still got it against the ZINC TUBE and its coloured serpent sliding craftily across the crystal top Rita tells me. Glossy photographs, it always seems that peas, carrots, tubes, children's toys, wheelchairs, broccoli, dentures, thighs, breasts, hammers have all been sprayed with water seconds before the sweaty pornographer's garish click. The colour integrates you try touching a cloth prepared for painting, it is sluppy like a nylon raincoat, the colour slides, smears the cloth, merges into it, yes and into the rags, into the hands too: plastic colours for plastic cloths painted with plastic brushes, you might as well paint with toothpaste.
I MARK DOWN IN SILVER I MARK DOWN MY NOTES. I QUICKLY WRITE NOTES ON THE PAGE OF AN EXERCISE BOOK NOT TO FORGET AN IDEA OR PERHAPS TO VERIFY IT LATER ON. I MODIFY CANCEL REDRAW WITH A SILVER COLOURED THICK AND GREASY PASTEL WITH THE PENCIL'S TIP I DRAW OVER I RE-DRAW, I CHECK. ON THE TINTED COLOURED CLOTH, THE PAINTING FINISHED I SPREAD A THICK VEGETABLE BASED GLUE (RICE AND CELLULOSE) MIXED WITH POWDERED SILVER WHICH GIVES ME JUST ONE HOUR OF WORK BEFORE DRYING. I INCISE WITH A KNIFE, A BURIN, A GRAPHITE TIP, I MARK AND REDISCOVER THE CLOTH'S COLOUR.
When working each operation is well distinguished in time, months pass, the stratifications are distinct and even technically can be identified with precision. The gestures will be different too: each time concentration and mental tensions are different. The coffee is stained with boiled egg yolk, you add six drops of lemon juice. The chocolate marks with dammar paint on one side, crude linseed oil on the other, just enough turpentine, if you don't obtain the right result cover it with bees' wax and iron at a warm temperature. Potato marks: cook a really red onion in a Bain Marie, strain when cold, add equal parts of ½ teaspoon of salt, vinegar and bicarbonate, leave them for a long time and rinse.
Silver cancels the mark and the scratch uncovers traces of colour and of the sign : new footpaths to follow. Communication, indifferent to destiny, writes unaware that it is about to reunite, grasp, imprison, knot, tie, fix, join, come close to, bind, associate, put into contact.
Upon these landscapes which intersect themselves, which confuse themselves all is written with the maniacal precision of an accountant the collection of notebooks increases and loses itself in Passoat's labyrinth. I have no idea of just how many notebooks I use at the same time: two in the bag which follows me everywhere; three subject 067009 college marginal ruled 11/m 8 1/2inc. 120 sheets the head corporation Dayton PH10 45463 and a lined exercise book used in junior schools two lines for vowels and one above for consonants and capital letters. I usually draw while explaining to the person who should only be listening to me; I sense that my words are never sufficiently clear, exhaustive. I draw a screw when I have to buy one. The albums with their blue large squared nets come to mind: C (capello) the image of a hat, C-capello, hat, in best handwriting. In the studio I manage three other notebooks, I made them for my own amusement. Transcriptions of the same idea pass from one to another: the fair copy, I always re-write, it's the only way for me to remember, to read and make changes. I trample on my traces left on the mountain with its deep snow, it gives a sense of security and is less tiring, but the footprints are mine: this passage has nothing to do with logic. With verification there are no substantial changes, sometimes I redraw colour by colour, mark by mark it is more a note of temporal passage than a visual one; the operation closes resembling the ceremonial preparations for liturgy. Instructions for use: how to sharpen a number two pencil with a pencil sharpener or razor blade before drawing; to how many generations of architects have I heard this story repeated and each of us have learned it from our teacher as if it was part of some secret Zen initiation ceremony into. Calvino thoughts were for Felix the Cat cartoons before writing. The transcription or discovery of a lost manuscript, whether authentic or not, is a tool used for a literary pretext. In visual arts there is a type of artist's signature which repeats itself in the works: a well concealed self-portrait, a little dog, a mark. The artist paints a self-portrait in the mirror which reflects in the mirror, the artist paints a painting in the mirror of the painting of the artist in the mirror. Superstitious rituals to overcome the unknown on a blank page. In the most mysterious, unknown, remote, forbidding territory. Hades, Ulysses, Enea, Dante are accompanied and reassured by the comforting presence of Holy Communion, Duce for Dante. During the mark's journey there will be some extraordinary and dangerous adventures. Tarzan encounters snakes, crocodiles, sunflowers, man eaters, 21st century Roman warriors, crazy nazis, week after week, but the primary backdrop is reduced: it goes, comes and comes back again. Just think about it, the production of a thousands works to express one concept. Turkish & Domestic. In music the rules contained in the score were, on a whole set and rigorous; one theme or two played against each other .stop. If you think of Rossini and with how much ease he moved whole arias from one work to another. Self-portrait with red hat, without, with a canary Still life with three apples, two apples and a teacup, two apples, no apples. Spatial concept: this title has ruined three-quarters of abstract painting in the sixties. I RE-COPY MY DRAWINGS.
Sometimes painters do not look at the flower they are painting but the emptiness surrounding it, believing that the void's outline and not the flower is the object of the painting. Nothing is superfluous and nothing is of capital importance (in art). I bring to the surface what has been discovered but mostly conform to the hand's discoveries.
METAL, SILVER, LEAD, COPPER, IRON, GRAPHITE
Orpheus played the most diverse instruments, they are lined up behind him and acquiesce to his every desire. In this sequence of images you can see that the 1964 glass windows were good quality as are the slides taken from the video prova d'artista by Paolo Pieri in 198 At Giorgio Upiglio's studio while I was working on a large plate edited by Grafica Uno and Galleria Blu. More recent images document the frescoes in the Asteria centre where a video, which I have never seen, was made. In glass windows the lead which joins and draws is dependent on the glass, on the colour it supports? The border is black, the edge cartoon strip outlines. When the colour closes up to another they clash between two tides, they slide and mix in the turbine of white foam and intense blue; today the libecco (south-west wind) is blowing, the libecco sea, the libecco wind: the mark of iron, the mark of metal. Only those who 'know' about copperplate printing when they see sheet of paper to be used for incision thinks, imagines, comes together with the plate, knowing if the mark has been produced with soft paints, sugared or watercolours. A challenge takes place between specialist and artist when the artist attempts to put the former in difficulty, putting him off scent by inventing evermore more refined secret techniques respecting the implacable rules of chess and confounding them.
The mark expresses itself or waits for the support of the colour contained within it. The mark is only a design which does not have to balance against chiaroscuro. Picasso's mark gathers up the pages' whiteness, he defines and differentiates it from the very whiteness of the background. Matisse's mark always suggested colour. Quality of the pencil mark to draw and limit the campitura. Ambiguity .o.k.. Lead sets the coloured weave but is the stone chisel more expressive? Quality mark iron, copper, lead, gold. They set the Fresco on the wall, the triangles fly on the marble powered walls, they escape my control: I painted them high up on the right, tomorrow morning I certainly don't want to find them on the ceiling down at the left, exploded like the glass shards in a kaleidoscope; a gentle knock on the paper tube is enough to change the work's symmetry. I believe that I've said everything, too much, but as often happens the person who explains or communicates must always have doubts; has enough been said or not.
The novel's last thirty pages are necessary to reveal why in the 15th Margherita took breakfast at half past six in the morning rather than six as usual. We read every one of the story's last thirty pages, even if the plot has unravelled, the last jigsaw pieces, unaided, find their correct place. The deserved satisfaction of closing the book at page 291 the white blank and index pages pressing us to read more.
The film is too long; after the interval we will see, plodding, the first half's protagonist, the now grown-up son: robbing us of the opportunity to imagine, fanaticise, add it's rather like hiding a bottle from an alcoholic in an obvious place Maestro this work of yours reminds me of my autumn seascape at Lerici what do you think? From someone who has never seen Lerici in the autumn. They pretend to lead my ageing Alice into suggestive fantasies about a red elephant running across the prairies in a Burroughs cartoon captured within the pen's wandering labyrinth, singling out the barely revealed object, coagulating before our very eyes as does perception. The qualifying adjective of mark is the photomicrograph taken of a falling drop of milk and an 19th century regal crown share surprising affinities, according to Lewis Strauss who poses the anthropological problem regarding the birth of a jewel, of an amulet and finds the solution by referring to certain archaeological finds, to American Indian culture, certain central African peoples and to Australian aborigines. The soft parts of the body decompose and disappear, the bones and in particular the teeth remain, surviving death and becoming elements for its exorcism. Decorated bones and teeth, hollowed out, filed, defend the body's vulnerable thresholds: the skull, neck, hands and genitals, ears, mouth, all orifices through which death may enter. From an object of superstition to an element of caste distinction, power, from power to ornament, from bone to tooth, from metal to stone which imitates, sublimates and suggests sunlight, water, fire: this is the itinerary which jewellery has made during the history of mankind. The necklace, the medallion made of rare metals: ear rings, necklaces, diadems, rings, loincloths, the ivory mouth-spike or ring, Maori jade carved into teeth or vertebrae, the horsehair or vegetable fibre string necklace is knotted and woven with ritual methods and great importance is given to the number of knots made.
The jadeamulet loses its power once stripped of its string thus they are interdependent.
The thread loses its power and becomes an object again: stone tooth root. At this point I am more interested in the jewel's contradiction; while setting the chisel competes with or betrays the stone. The support betrays the object. The frame is richer than the painting. Technique reaches its heights, virtuosity detaches itself from function. An example of this is metal soldering , the bezeling in the wood becomes decoration. During the celebration of rites, liturgy forgets the receiver of the host and officiates itself. The object becomes so rich and sophisticated that it loses all connection with the function, in this I refer particularly to sharp edged weapons. Bone becomes knife, knife jewel, symbol of power, a continual conflict within the object, the hilt richer than the blade which constitutes its function. The victory of the object's over its intended use. The ornament suffocates the work's purpose. Old pieces of furniture held together by countless coats of paint. In fringe architecture the structures compensate another's statics, stones are now placed, not cemented, the real cement is in the combination. It's enough to take the key away and the vault collapses. The key to the village has disappeared in the labyrinth of constructions, in time no memory or document remains to reveal it. I imagine a geographical map of an inexistent world. The accompaniment takes over the music's theme. Criticism the work. I don't know if these written sheets will lead me to an end or an unprepared conclusion, being unaware of any proposal to be proved. I would like the necklace and the object to become one, colour and canvas, wall and plaster. I still wonder if the labyrinth leads to an obscure solution. Money, coins, murrina (Venetian glass beads) become ornament. Today's murrina are plastic sandals. In certain central African populations they represent the power of exchange, money, they decorate the belts and necklaces worn by the chief. From prehistoric graffiti only interpretive hypothesis have been made but let's say that they are beautiful. Beautiful my arse! Imagine what would have happened if the portrait of Giuliano the Handsome did not resemble Giuliano, that he was unrecognisable and no-one could identify him in the painting. An infamous blunder. Aesthetics leading to ones-self. The revolutionary, the anti-aesthetic soon becomes taste. THE AVANTGARDE WAS BORN ON ITS FEET AND SOON ENDED UP SITTING DOWN. ART AN EXTENSION TO A VITAL PROCESS.
I AM AS I PAINT. GENIUS IS A FORM OF MEMORY YET UNKNOWN. IF I DON'T WORK I AM TIRED OUT.
On the other hand if I work the other me goes to the canvas and works for me. When he returns I am restored, no longer tired. PROBLEMS OF ART AND AWARENESS ARE TOO COMPLICATED TO BE PREDICTABLE. ONE SIMPLY DOESN'T KNOW. THE RESULT; A PERSON CONSTANTLY RUNNING AWAY FROM HIMSELF, FROM HIS OWN EXPERIENCES.
Setting the stone competes with and prevents it from expressing its vitality to the full. Stones live, all stones have an intriguing significance bonded to destiny YOU LEFT VAIN
NEVER TO RETURN smiling happily.
I SCRATCH GRAFFITO FRESCO. THE MARK ON THE HUMID WALL, I USE MY FINGERS, MY HAND
I feel extreme physical participation during this technique, the humid mortar burns the hands, the fingers leaving imprints and signs, sand underneath the fingernails, a battle against time: I don't know if five hours are ever going to be enough to cover, paint, celebrate these three square metres of fresco wall. I feel this technique so physically that it's like leaving my body. Even the sensation of being dazed at the end of the work is palpable as well as the pleasant sensation of exhaustion. I know that diuretics and bland purges are and were prescribed in therapy for certain nervous disorders: to come out of ones self is to leave our body a little, the malady departing, the tension with the faeces and urine. From neurosis to the iron bars in my fresco work, the network of my intricate natured paintings, to the grater which marks and cancels. My mind goes to Tobino who writes: the lunatic asylum's metal bars reassured rather than imprisoned the patients, a physical barrier among many protecting their diversity. Icarus fell into the sea and the peasant still continued harrowing, the shepherd his pasture, the fisherman fishing, and he thought he could fly with four feathers stuck together with a little bit of wax.
THE MOREO FRESCO ( WALL)
No theory exists, there can't be any, because the creative act finishes at the wrists. Here the mind doesn't intervene; there is a locking out, a defence which has not been formalised over the years. It's all done by hand, the mummy's sacred hand comes to mind capable of opening any door but cut off at the wrist.
1964. At the end of the second act, in the photo the tenor has just finished singing the air waiting for the applause: a moment full of tension, so long, it seems as if the sound hasn't reached the audience yet, he doesn't know if there will be a burst of applause which will melt his already set and prepared smile. If I had to reconstruct how and when I met him I would have to resort to heaven knows how much tortuous searching in my memory: Matteo was one or two, now he's 26, we're in 1991, 26 less 2 equals 24 ninety-one or eighty-nine less twenty six .but now I'm not even sure if he was two, Matteo. I certainly remember that I was painting, I had problems, I had followed the road which lead from my studio to his many times. Now I know who introduced me to him, it's the usual story of a friend of a friend and of betrayed friendships: the friend has been cancelled. The years that go from 1964 to eighty-seven went so quickly and were so dense with events: the time it takes to recollect a Koranic sura. The idea of a fresco came to me in the studio, I can't remember how, probably by exclusion. He already has one of my paintings and an incision too, a drawing is not personal enough by far considering the enigma of how to make an important gift which recalls a significant event both for the giver and the receiver.
In many populations we say primitive (from auxiliary 1932), they don't use bicycles: American Indians, Australian aborigines, Africans, Pigmies, Indios, the ritual of giving is most complex: the donor receives a gift in return. Should he make an expensive gift the host is put into the position of having to reciprocate in equal terms however should the value of the gift go far beyond his means he will be ruined. A gift too lavish is considered an insult and assumes the moral value of a challenge to find the highest bidder: it finishes in fistfights or knife fights or even epic tribal wars. In our civilisation (the one using the bike) there remains some memory of all this in the custom of taking a squalid bottle of wine, chocolates, ice-cream or flowers in response to an invitation for dinner. Yes, the fresco good lad I said to myself, a fantastic idea, I said to myself, now let's go and have a beer, I said to myself.
And thus its stylistic evolution and iconography had appreciable results right into the seventies but during the eighties it was no longer sought after or invited to public reviews. It wasn't so much that the avant-garde culture so much as conceptual purism to set it aside, that is to say the choice of the type of painting which also exalted a kind immobility, past its time, which had always followed 1964-1987 Fresco: good idea Giulio had said, Dorothy good idea, Arkana must have said good idea at three o'clock in the morning after having spoken to me for a day and a half at San Francisco. At San Francisco the Fresco course has now been going for four years and the red flag ritual enacted by Lucien and Steve who had been assistants to Diego Rivera in Mexico and California when he painted a huge Fresco at the Art Institute in San Francisco. They took part in many of Rivera's pictorial and political activities. They know much and have smelled the odour of death when Trotsky died - they don't want to talk about it and I have tried uselessly to eke out some unedited particular from their mouths, pouring out my past as a communist. Infact now, after four year's cooperation during the courses I hold at the Kala institute and punctually every Sunday night, at the conclusion of two work days together, after we have gone through all the pupils' Frescoes, after the formal and warm farewell speech thanking the Director, a salute with acid Californian wine and in reply to my historical and political curiosity they sing The Red Flag to me in Italian. It has become the liturgical psalm for the lay Fresco ritual. Chop verb Chopper substantive to cut with an axe with one sharp blow, to cut away: chopping to level, to fly in a helicopter, to play dominoes with twice the number of men.
THE ALESSANDRA MOREA FRESCO FRESCO UPON A STEEL PANEL AND METAL NET WHICH HOLDS THE PLASTER, AT ALL EFFECTS IT REACTS IN THE SAME WAY AS A FRESCO DOES ON A WALL. IT WEIGHS 50 KILOS PER SQUARE METRE. The close-up of a piano can be seen on the projected slide, my comment is brief, I think I've digressed enough with the other images, the reaction is always the same: surprise and healthy American laughter.
The geographical area is described in punctilious in every detail, but clearly inexistent where? In this place where I work and laze there is the same taste, everything is possible, nothing is obligatory nor prohibited even to ourselves, time passes no signs of day or night, of hunger or sleep, so the hands stop again, the clock dead, the knife once again poised on the edge of the next minute is held immobile by its own steel. When the Prince, Vizier decided and the carver, the cutter knew, they come together like two stones of the same shape, weight and colour on the ocean's edge. The Prince shows off his treasure to the carver; it rose from the Bosphorus sands, as green water arising up into the early morning sky, no bigger than Saint Sofia of Constantinople but no smaller either, the jewel's brightness forbidden to imagination, a gem containing all possible colours and even some impossible, appearing as a splendid droplet like a comet, with the appearance of a finely cut diamond that even the maestro was amazed and even more so upon realising that the colour and shape changed like the pupil of a jaguar passing from night to day. Like a piece of grease
the stone had the aspect of a piece of grease. The Vizier told the maestro that only he could set a stone with such intermittent dazzling lights like mercury, more alive than all existing precious stones even though all stones are alive.
MARK, DRAWING, CANCELLATION ARE THE SAME THING?
Manet's last masterpieces are due to a degenerative process, an incurable cataract, he never saw them as we see them and probably had never even conceived them in that way.
It's common knowledge that Paolo Veronese was purported to be colour blind. It seems to me which tends to give all of yourself: excitement, poetry and bravura in one work. Where would I find other energy for other thousands of works that await you? If this is the apex of your possibilities the others, for intensity, tension and quality will be scaled down. To give the maximum to everything is a fairly common deformation among artists, especially the immature (all of them). You want to put fifty into something which can only contain 20, in a painting or in an exhibition's preparation (especially if personal); the only preoccupation is to rob rather than gain space from the blank wall: it's like preparing a suitcase without taking into account that you must be able to close it. He who has few ideas has many thoughts and stays immobile solitary. He has given but hasn't spent everything, he is tired but not exhausted, and the secret veil of malcontent for a secret delusion is drawn, a new admirable shadow. He could write a book of memories as seen by a temperate man paraphrasing the transmission which deals with art seen from a close-up. This in reference to a group of artists, formed in Milan, around an untidy table with untidy ideas, little success, little money and lots of alcohol. A Manifesto, hallmark to the poetic and the purpose: it's idiotic, infantile, useless, self-satisfied in its terminology, exaggerated. Like the oil topping in a flask of wine: a veil is sufficient to avoid it turning into vinegar. The union is force or impotence. The terminology tricks, decorative, artefact, lackadaisical used by militant art critics during the sixties, fashionable at the time like teenager jargon is to day. A trick is generally used when the artist has followed a technique producing an easily acquired effect without linguistic depth avoiding the solution and showing off his presumed talent; unnecessarily. But are they tricks of the trade, tricks Hartung's scratchings incised on sensitive film or the use of a serigraph in pop art? I suggest you oil paint my teacher told me, warmed up fried courgette flowers from the day before came to mind The paintings are good, interesting but . the paint colours are putrid greens, bitumen the blacks, the earth colours like shit, the sticky pastiness of painted canvas, the colours of suffering and anguish; cold lasagne comes to mind. It was from man's 'self' that literature, nature, theatre, a galaxy of metaphors, a procession of emblems, symbols and shapes, living numbers written on things were created. Above ego's apparent death the most spectacular blossoming burst onto the literary world. Painting became music, book painting, music book painting, music garden, painting the sky. If an opinion had to be given and distinguish the truth from the lie, cruelty from goodness words fled from his mouth or contradictions overflowed and confounding one with the other.
SELF-PORTRAIT WITH MATERNITY. In this photograph dated 1964 I was 23; at the back the cardboard to be used for a large Fresco measuring 20 by 5 metres, my year old son in his mother's arms, the remains of a fire, like the ones used on building sites, to heat up the plaster and warm up cold bones it's freezing in the month of November. I managed to finish the Fresco just in time for the Christmas Midnight Mass. In this image there are all the ingredients for a hopeless situation to come to mind.
THE PROJECT MARKS, PROSPECTIVE, PROJECT FOR AN INSTALLATION
I draw and think of other things, I can't distract myself because I have always been distracted by other ideas. Suddenly I discover the drawing that I'm doing and surprise myself as if seeing myself going out for a walk.
Looking at a newly finished painting gives me the same sensation as revisiting the countryside in a different season and not recognising it. A mark or a colour persecutes me; like birds building a nest I surround it, gather, jumble it up. I continue drawing mechanically, discovering it in things encountered, until the moment when I am able to free myself of it, having expressed everything in the work. I consider these steps of ingestation, maturation and expulsion as natural.
INSTALLATION MARK INSTALLATION THE CANVAS WHICH PAINTS, THE CORD WHICH DRAWS THE SPACE.
Translated by Jane Rusconi, March 2003
Copyright 1999-2003 Sandromartini.org