The shield of Achilles. Emanuele Becheri at the Fuoricampo Gallery in Siena

«Sai che t’avverrà, praticando il disegnare di penna?
che ti farà sperto, pratico e capace di molto disegno entro la testa tua.»
(Cennini, Il Libro dell’arte, XIII)

Often, speaking of drawing as a contemporary practice, the critique usually takes up the myth of the potter Butade, handed down by Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia, in the honorable intention of rekindling the legendary aura of this archaic technique.

The quotation from the myth, where the daughter of the artisan follows the shadow of the beloved to impress his effigy, while the skilled hands of the father model a terracotta on the signs, has been consumed over the centuries (Alberti, Vasari, Regnault, Fussli …) undoubtedly contributing to nourish the romantic aspect of drawing, ferried during the twentieth century up to conquer a post-media value (like cinema). The path of Emanuele Becheri, on display at the Fuoricampo gallery in Siena until 11 July, is somatic before than psychic, evolved not only for the longevity gained in nearly twenty years of research but for the increasingly conscious relational tangles of his works. States of mind, characterized by the double location between the gallery and the Hall of San Galgano in the complex of Santa Maria della Scala (open until 6 July) focuses on the intimate and turbulent relationship between drawing and sculpture, presenting some conciliatory pieces of the artist’s recent production.

If in his first works Becheri sought an authorial dispersion conceiving the case as an element of creation declined in blind gestures (Donner à Voir, 2004) or uncontrolled (Shining, 2007), in the latest works the manual (even digital) presence of the artist, an index of intellectual progress similar to the Évolution créatrice (1907) by Bergson, where he states that man should be defined as homo faber rather than homo sapiens. The consistency of the path, in addition to aesthetic concerns, comes to light due to the constant systematic unpredictability of the works, no longer limited in the creative act but now enlarged to the perceptive moment of the user, consciously shifting the artistic center of gravity: the object becomes art not in the moment in which it is made, but in the moment in which it is seen, as poetry becomes art not when it is written but when it is read.

Authorial dispersion is thus maintained.

In this sense, rather than to the countless and tantalizing visual references1, I would like to emphasize two points about the Sienese exhibition of literary-conceptual origin: the Ecfrastic aspect and the Christological aspect.

The need to scan the work through various interpretative means (memory, suggestion, perspective, …) places a constant translation value on the work itself and a further vaporization of authenticity. The ecfrase (from the Greek èk-phrasis, “out-describing”) in the field of art history has assumed aesthetic values ​​that often accorded, if not even competed, with plastic works, especially when the subjects were lost pieces or non-existent. In Becheri’s case it is the physiognomy that is the object of description by loading the sculptures and drawings of a literary eloquence achieved with a suffered and erosive téchne, the artist becomes the river that erodes with epic constancy and fatigue «… is the placid water, the water that ruins the bridges, which creeps into every crevice and laps every cove … gurgling in the basements and in the sewers »2.

The changing dynamism of his work is enriched by psycho-theological connotations in relation with the second location of the exhibition, a hall formerly the women’s lane of the pilgrim of Santa Maria della Scala. To clarify, the monogram of the Spedale with the scale surmounted by a cross3 comes to the rescue: the calvaric and transcendent path of the artist, although it appears immediate and spontaneous, is painful and cathartic, without however denying a thread of narcissism or sprezzatura, as suggested the same author in an introductory poem to his own exhibition. Rebalancing this Pindarian escape is the Pietas Carnis evident in the works but even in the artist’s character, a body abandoned in the arms of capricious Nature.

Becheri is Christ, but a primitive and autarchic, cannibal and romantic Christ, the Themroc4 of art.

[1] especially Rodin: with Figure in the landscape, 2017 Becheri seems to reconstruct a small Porte de l’Enfer, 1889. On the link between the hand and the divine, synthetic but effective D. JARRASSÉ, The hand of God or the hand of artist, in Rodin – Forma e Movimento, Ed. Ita Rusconi Libri, Rimini, 2002, pg. 213-214.

[2] See M. PRAZ, Whitman and Proust, in The pact with the snake: paralipomeni of “The meat, the death and the devil in romantic literature”, Milan, 1972, p.448.

[3] on the anatomical aspect of the scale complex, in particular on the reference to the collum capitis See L. DI FONZO, The Mariology of Saint Bernardino from Siena, «Miscellanea francascana», 1947, 1-2, passim, and pp. 38-39, 41, 44, 55, 58, 59, 60.

[4] C. FARALDO, Themroc, France, 1973.


Emanuele Becheri. Stati d’animo
24 May – 11 July 2019
Galleria Fuoricampo
Via Salicotto 1/3, angolo Piazza del Campo, 53100 Siena (Italy) –

Emanuele BecheriEmanuele Becheri. Stati d’animo, installation view at Galleria Fuoricampo, Siena

Emanuele Becheri. Stati d’animo, installation view at Galleria Fuoricampo, Siena

Emanuele Becheri, Stati d’animo#11, 2017 pongo on paper, 30 x 42 cm

Emanuele Becheri, Figura nel paesaggio, 2017, Santa Maria della Scala

The sense of air without notes. At the Tenuta dello Scompiglio, a rich calendar of artistic events on the theme of death

It comes to mind, perhaps plagiarized by the recent death of Bruno Ganz (Upper-case artist), the scene of the famous masterpiece by Herzog, Nosferatu – The prince of the night, when in the last plague-stricken supper, slow, harrowing and very sweet the table companion says to the protagonist: “Seien Sie unser Gast. Wir alle haben die Pest. Also lasst uns jeden genießen Tag, der bleibt »1. The pettiness of this pseudo-Flemish fresco, between libations and white mice, condenses much of the narrative poetics of the director, interested not in the accomplished act nor even in the Beauty but in the tension preceding the end, in the prelude that already becomes, by announcing it, the death.

Black ink lakes were formed on the bibliographical drafting about Death, the first human conscience, a theme embodied by the Art itself in response to the transience of time. However, current events are based on other implications of the subject, moving it from an object of thought to a mere phenomenological (if not journalistic) fact, depriving it of all temporal and metaphysical reflection.

That’s why Della morte e del morire, an exhibition proposed by the Tenuta dello Scompiglio near Vorno (Capannori, Lucca) deserves attention and philosophical study. A sequence of performances, installations, exhibitions, concerts and initiatives of various kinds will cover throughout 2019 the busy schedule of the Scompiglio Cultural Association, directed by Cecilia Bertoni, focusing on the three semantic characters of death: socio-political, ideological and celebratory. The theatrical vocation of the context and the wide-ranging spaces certainly make it possible to construct scenographic installations of strong visual impact, a double-edged sword if the accent is placed on the evident naturalistic aspect of the context, “step-mother” in the aesthetic offer, and persuasive in dictating to the artists already visited forms arguing Eternal Sleep.

Taking up the Herzogian citation, Death is the constant oscillation and perfection between Beauty and certainty, it cannot tend excessively to one or the other due to its temporal power, it exists only in function of the moment. If therefore the work The vulnerability of precious things, result of the residence conducted by Sabrina Mezzaqui at Tenuta dello Scompiglio, develops precepts well related to the matter discussed. The formal aspect has already “expired”, it does not reflect on death but on temporality (not necessarily synonyms ), leaving the viewer distant due to the unbalanced timing, although peculiar for a residence. Cautiously, the installation The Cannibals by Titta Cosetta Raccagni focuses on the chronicle, on the constant and violent suspension of the migrant’s condition and the idea of ​​a conscious rebirth, finding a balance even with a cyber-punk comic note. Between the archetype and fashion. Both works have just finished, precisely on May 26 and June 2, while more time is given to works of significant physical and resource complexity, scheduled until September 22nd.

These are Camera # 5 by Cecilia Bertoni, the Riderless Horse video-performance by Avelino Sala and the impressive site-specific Sanctum by Levi van Veluw. Bertoni’s installation, voiced by Carl G. Beukman, aims to relate the opposing states of existence playing on perceptive contrasts, both ocular (Black and White) and spatial (corridor and room) and sensorial (tactile and psychological) by introducing, through a white and immaculate gap, in an environment littered with salt and headed by a cloth-shroud sewn by the artist with alchemical symbols. The “tunnel of light” and the lunar landscape seem to stage death rather than ponder it, but the addition of the individual element of the funeral sheet imposes on the whole scenario a reflection similar to the possibility of death in Heidegger, where the ontological exposition of the death of others serves to escape one’s own.

Also Avelino Sala offers a work with exorcising traits: the beautiful intuition of the horse linked to death (think of the equestrian and pictorial tradition, from Dürer to Füssli to Cattelan) risks provoking the opposite effect due to the natural reaction from “narrow escape” which is adopted in these cases of due unrequited emotional traction, spells that replace meditation.

True catalyst of the forces in the field is the immersive project of Levi van Veluw, capable of enclosing with precise genuineness all the linguistic aspects pursued by Della morte e del morire. Sanctum, under the guidance of Angel Moya Garcia, combines the synchronic ambiguity of rigorous and archaic forms with a marked nostalgic force, fertile in cinematic references, creating the right vibration to decant Death, a terrible and inevitable quartz watch. The transcendent breathed is the fruit of the adopted scheme of the classical tabernacle, but also of the symbolic constellation that invests this artificial temple, not far from the semiological idealism of Baudrillard, where signs and objects dominate the subject.

What is Death, then? It is the loss of meaning, not a biological end but a dispersion of finality, no longer able to distinguish fiction from reality. Concluding precisely with the most sensitive promoter of pataphysics: «First, Benjamin (and later McLuhan) captures the technique not as a “productive force” (where Marxist analysis is enclosed) but as a medium, as a form and principle of all a new generation of meaning. … The technique as a medium prevails not only on the “message” of the product (its use value) but also on the workforce, of which Marx wants to make the revolutionary message of production. Benjamin and McLuhan saw more clearly than Marx: they saw that the real message, the real ultimatum was in the production itself. And that production has no meaning: its social purpose is lost in seriality. The simulacra prevail over history. »2

[1] The dubbing of the Italian version is licentious but interesting: «it is our last dinner; we all have the plague and every day that remains we must have a party».

[2] J. BAUDRILLARD, The industrial simulacrum, in “Symbolic Exchange and Death”, Milan, 2007, pp. 64-65.


Tenuta dello ScompiglioSabrina Mezzaqui, La vulnerabilità delle cose preziose, 2019
foto di Alice Mollica Courtesy l’artista e Associazione Culturale Dello Scompiglio

Titta Cosetta Raccagni, I cannibali, 2019 foto di Alice Mollica
Courtesy l’artista e Associazione Culturale Dello Scompiglio

Cecilia Bertoni, Camera #5, 2019
foto di Guido Mencari Courtesy l’artista e Associazione Culturale Dello Scompiglio

Avelino Sala, Riderless Horse, 2019
Performance e videoinstallazione Courtesy l’artista e Associazione Culturale Dello Scompiglio

Levi van Veluw, Sanctum, 2019
foto di Guido Mencari Courtesy l’artista e Associazione Culturale Dello Scompiglio

Photo Notes: About Photo London 2019

A polished and carefully offered fair, visited on a day of unprecedented London sun. Just finished, the fifth edition of Photo London confirms a more than positive trend (42,500 visitors this year, up on the 40,000 of 2018) that compensates for the massive efforts of the founders, Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad, to make it ever bigger and attractive: over 100 galleries, participants from every corner of the world, have been very well distributed in the generous spaces of Somerset House, an authentic eighteenth-century castle reinvented in 2000 to become the epicenter of contemporary British culture. If possible.

No fuss, it must be said immediately that the fair develops a good rhythm, not boring, despite the size and the compartmentalized distribution of the various stands. Still, you can’t do without certain photography, masterful it is true, although advocate of a Mannerist perfume that bears the whole fair, resizing that “especially the future” proclaimed by the management. However, sectorial virtues are rather sophisticated, technical and above all narrative, showing a visibly high quality on the market. Interesting in this regard, a copious oozing of small sizes for the walls of all Somerset: not only polaroid, always present, but various “pocket” declinations often with non-standard dimensions, denouncing the analogical ambitions of the photographers in circulation.

The expectation that emerged from the Discovery pavilion, where emerging talents proposed by 25 selected galleries, clearly international, are concentrated and well-deserved. Any name? Of this specific session the romantic inclination of some authors takes precedence over the remaining offer, more pertinent to the context but paradoxically even more current due to the temporal ambiguity suggested in the historical moment incarnating the eternal Nietzschean Present: the shots in the odor of Battaille of TILO & TONI proposed by Metronom gallery (Modena); the beautiful and damned portraits by Radek Husak exhibited by Dellasposa Fine Art (London) with fresco-like poses by a Signorelli, photos evoking Renaissance preparatory studies in silver tip, even if there are only jelly salts in silver (live) ; dulcis in fundo the Archeologies of the Present by Marco Maria Zanin brought from the Spazio Nuovo (Rome).

Returning to the Ground Floor, it would be inelegant (and uncomfortable) to propose a list of authors, after all, as mentioned, valuable, but I would like to mention the effective stands in the relationship between the setting up / works / space, capable of a certain exhibition autonomy: the Edel Assanti gallery (London) with few pieces manages to create a clear and concentrated punctum that qualifies the (3) authors; the dark and melancholy “dark room” effect recreated by Galerie Johannes Faber (Vienna) where black-background photographs evoke an attractive ghosts-story accent; to note also the Robert Mann Gallery (New York) with a pastel chromatic impact to describe the pale flashes of American everyday life.

About collateral events, although the Stephen Shore show alone deserves a trip to the capital (the Women in Photography pavilion with the works of Rachel Louise Brown, Mary MacCartney and Susan Meiselas is rather redundant), the surprise comes from the direct operation from the artist Gavin Turk, author of a public selection where several artists (some very young) create a photographic work in dialogue with the powerful bronze egg, signed by Turk, then the aforementioned are projected in loops on four screens surrounding the ovoid sculpture: Portrait of an Egg, is the ironic and successful main dish of the fair.


Photo LondonGavin Turk, Oeuvre (Verdigris), 2018, Courtesy Live Stock Market and Gavin Turk

Mary McCartney, Ballerina in Sink, London, 2004 © Mary McCartney

Stephen Shore, ‘Los Angeles, California, February 4, 1969’ (1969) © Stephen Shore. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Nicolò Cecchella, Darren Harvey-Regan, Marco Maria Zanin. Impronte

The peculiar two-dimensionality of photography has created in its historical maturation easier approaches to painting, even defining the case studies (portrait, landscape, still life, etc.) and often encouraging reciprocal references, still very much in vogue today, between caravaggism and Renaissance suggestions as regards photographers, and the infatuation with photographic installations by artists of other backgrounds. Hybridizations never fail.

As far as sculpture is concerned, the relationship becomes more sought after, despite having far away roots, but it determines open fields of research: the successful exhibition Impronte, curated by Angela Madesani, at the Passaggi arte contemporanea gallery in Pisa needs to be explored. A triptych of resolutely skilled artists on the theme, with distinct paths yet capable of creating sumptuously homogeneous results almost suggesting the idea of ​​a single show: an appropriate amalgamation of the symbolic image of refraction, where the terrible and divine (transcendent) image gathers all the colors in pure and linear light.

Light and perception are synonyms of Nicolò Cecchella’s work, present with the work Volto Terra (2015-2017), fulcrum of the exhibition, terracotta casts of his own features imbued with poetic and scientific references (for brevity, think about the mask by Pirandello and the optical phenomenon of the Rubin vase) as well as a probable prompter of the title of the exhibition due to the effective formal synthesis of both the macrosystems concerned, that of sculpture and photography. The imprint, in fact, is the materializing moment par excellence, denouncing the intention of the collective to dig (or remove, if you like) to get closer to the origins of the matter, understood both as a physical substance and a subject matter, to reach formal and symbolic archetypes of the artistic investigation, without depriving itself of metalinguistic references, also touching on other technical areas such as literature and artistic engraving.

The latter is the significant leitmotiv of all the works exhibited with suggested echoes, such as the combination of Traccia (2016-2017) by the aforementioned Cecchella and For an engraving of indefinite thousands of years (1969) by Giovanni Anselmo, and real notable citations in the photographs of Marco Maria Zanin whose subjects recall Giorgio Morandi’s painting. Zanin carries out an intriguing romantic process by aestheticizing architectural rubble and rural work tools, placing a rather significant mystical accent, elevating the objects to a fetish and following a widespread and pertinent contemporary inclination towards an archeology of the present (following Giovanni Urbani’s footsteps): beyond the graphics, works such as Symptom III (from the series Ferite/Feritoie) refer to a certain noble photograph (I think about Mechanical Form by Hiroshi Sugimoto or the more specific Beauties of the common tool by Walker Evans come to mind) in  perfect synchrony with Rephrased I (2013) by Darren Harvey-Regan, an English artist devoted to photographic investigation between the object and its representation. Unlike the other two members of the collective, who are more humanist and anthropological, Harvey-Regan‘s research contemplates an analytical rigor centered on the perceptive dilemmas of the human eye, especially on the material-formal nature of the object, yet it is capable of to stimulate aesthetic values ​​and not deprive oneself of some poetic ascendancy; it is not by chance that the author often cites among his sources of inspiration the famous burin Melancholia (1514) by Albrecht Dürer. The engraving returns, c.v.d.

Overall, the exhibition has an excellent and brilliant display, without denying the monumentality of Harvey-Regan’s dolmen works or the naturalness of Cecchella’s works rather than the meditative autonomy of Zanin, despite the concentration of the gallery space. Unbalanced, one of the most accomplished exhibitions of the year (we are already approaching to the Venice Biennale) characterized by a careful and authentic but at the same time suggestive line, in reference to which it seems appropriate to coining the definition Relational Romanticism.

Luca Sposato


Nicolò Cecchella, Darren Harvey-Regan, Marco Maria Zanin. Impronte
curated by Angela Madesani
March 9 – May 25 2019
Passaggi – arte contemporanea
via Garofani 14, 56125, Pisa –

ImpronteImpronte, veduta parziale della mostra. ph. Nicola Belluzzi, courtesy Passaggi Arte Contemporanea

ImpronteImpronte, veduta parziale della mostra. ph. Nicola Belluzzi, courtesy Passaggi Arte Contemporanea

Darren Harvey-Regan, The Erratics – Wrest#3 e The Erratics – Wrest#7, 2015. ph. Nicola Belluzzi, courtesy Passaggi Arte Contemporanea

Marco Maria Zanin, Natura Morta IV, 2015, stampa fine art su carta cotone, 60 x 75 cm. ph. courtesy dell’artista

Alfredo Pirri’s artificial purgatory at the Eduardo Secci contemporary gallery

Although the title of the title may suggest it, the last solo exhibition by Alfredo Pirri at the Florentine gallery Eduardo Secci is not an exhibition tacked on contrasts, rather focused on limits: Day / Night is avowedly poetic with many pictorial suggestions evoked more or less intentionally according to the Nerudian principle that “poetry doesn’t belong to the writer”. However it investigates the often imperceptible connection between art and more rigorous systems such as optics and architecture.

Starting with the first room with the installation-lamp Studio-per-Imbrunire (someone will remember a well-known painting by Giacomo Balla), the chromatic impression becomes more and more evident and clear by exploiting the excellent diffused sunlight of the gallery, an invitation to repeat the visit on several occasions to prove how time fades the colors, shattering, with slow curvature, on the transparencies of plexiglass in Studio per Compagni e Angeli, a markedly architectural site-specific work which stimulate an experiential and not merely visual fruition . The allusion to the luminous dust combined with the fresh lightness of the feathers creates a sensory contrast between the actual perception and the promptly offered meditative invitation, given the strong poetic accent already discussed, a temporal and existential friction: it is four o’clock in the morning or four o’clock at night? Pirri leaves us the pleasant doubt.

The optical and metalinguistic games chase each other further in the room dedicated to the most paroxysmal works: the recent production of the Arie series, almost unpublished in the use of chalcographic black chasm, cancels out the grace so far found in favor of an enveloping shadowy dimension, an undergrowth anyway refreshing and familiar, as of (congenial term) Mediterranean scrub.

Taking up the initial concept, the border investigated between painting and architecture deserves a brief study; recalling how Jannis Kounellis liked to call himself “painter” (Pirri himself writes it in an article in 2013 for the magazine L’Espresso) transcending a more physical and full-bodied sense (“the meat” he called it) of this traditional technique, so also for the artist from Cosenza, painting spreading in space takes on architectural features. It is not a simple dialectic, there is no intertwined relationship as in the modern fresco (which, among other things, the gallery enjoys a pleasant example of the early twentieth century), but a true transubstantiation because the works coincide with their new nature when they are exposed. This highly mystical reflection serves as a twilight counterpart precisely with the more evanescent and pindaric atmosphere of the other side of the exhibition: only by their fusion can beauty, not equilibrium, be born, since the operation is characterized by continuous dynamic relationships, never defined, often even powerful and incisive. “The sun slips beyond the dunes to rape other nights,” the poet wrote.

Thus, a state of limbo pervades, an artificial purgatory that is precise both in analytical reading and in technical reading, perhaps alluding to the world of chalcographic engraving, the land of none of the visual arts, marked in the numerous traces, footprints and releases of the various works presented (even the watercolors 33 giri have an idea of ​​”press”) and peculiar in its ritual, circular and meditative process as Day / Night is, and always will be.

Luca Sposato


Alfredo Pirri. Day / Night
March 30 – May 11  2019
Eduardo Secci contemporary
piazza Carlo Goldoni 2, 50123, Firenze
055/661356 – –

Alfredo PirriAlfredo Pirri, Studio per Compagni e Angeli, metacrilato colorato in pasta e piume conciate (dimensioni reali)

Alfredo PirriAlfredo Pirri, Studio per All’imbrunire, metacrilato colorato in pasta e lampione (dimensioni reali) e 33 giri, acquerello su carta arches (250 x 125 cm)