Interview with Riccardo Baruzzi, first prize Premi...

Interview with Riccardo Baruzzi, first prize Premio Osvaldo Licini by Fainplast

Associazione Arte Contemporanea Picena and Fainplast present the exhibition of Riccardo Baruzzi (1976), winner of the second edition of the Osvaldo Licini by Fainplast Award, dedicated to Italian painting. The artist starts from the pictorial medium and then expands his action field of by mixing traditional and experimental techniques, often using the medium of drawing in a performative way. There are two recurring modalities in his artistic production: the search for a new simplicity, understood as the achievement of a zero degree, a sort of beginning of language and the cataloging of aesthetics, which in general are defined as marginal. In this new grammar Baruzzi, who in Italy is represented by the P420 gallery in Bologna, builds works in which, in addition to reducing the number of signs and subjects, he cancels or reduces the perspective component to a minimum. On the occasion of the exhibition we had the pleasure of asking him a few questions.

Riccardo Baruzzi, Bilancione (Uomo dell’orto) (detail), 2022, cotton cloth, 5 drawings A3 tempera on paper. Ph Pierluigi Giorgi, courtesy Premio Osvaldo Licini by Fainplast

Valeria Fontana: If you could define yourself through one work of art, which one would you choose and why?
Riccardo Baruzzi: I am attracted to many unknown authors, the so-called outsiders, I cannot think of a name and I really cannot imagine to describe myself in a single work of art. I find more inspiration in public squares than in museums, in the act of an old craftsman reinforcing the structure of his chair by welding the boards with a broken painting, or in the spray-painted billboards with which a greengrocer promotes his cherries. A fishing net, for me, is not just a tool useful for a purpose, but a functional sculpture, settled after centuries of improvements and relationships with the territory: it’s the representation of an ecosystem in which art always finds space.

Riccardo Baruzzi, Cetrioli e noci su olmo tramutato, 2022. Oil and spray on cotton, 100 x 80 cm each. Ph Pierluigi Giorgi, courtesy Premio Osvaldo Licini by Fainplast

How was your interest in painting born?
Since I was a child I copied and interpreted the images that moved me, without however justifying anything to anyone and, so to speak, following a retinal pleasure. I grew up in a poor family in Romagna. In spite of this situation I was lucky enough to find the richness in the available materials, I experimented freely since I was a child, in the calm of the infinite places and spaces where the fog dominates the landscape, where meditation comes naturally. I met this scenery again as a study material in the academy with Guido Guidi, and today it is still the main focus of my research. In recent years I have understood that a founding poetics can be drawn from that landscape and recognized throughout the world: the attention to the environment that surrounds us, learning from the rural world, building with poor materials, that thus becomes true wealth, those are the only hope for an eco-sustainable world. «Abandon the sensational»: I think these should become the watchwords.

Riccardo Baruzzi, Spaventapasseri, 2022. Terracotta, iron, fused bronze, oil on cotton, 117 x 192 x 120 cm. Ph Pierluigi Giorgi, courtesy Premio Osvaldo Licini by Fainplast

What about your interest for the sound? How was it born?
Because I’m a melomaniac. «Music cannot exist without sound. The sound exists by itself without the music. It’s the sound that counts». These words are by Giacinto Scelsi and highlight the beauty of elementary structures; each discipline has its own alphabet and foundation. My research is partly structured around the physical and poetic principles of drawing and sound. Contact, distance, time of the sound event, rhythm and motion of a stretch, resistance of a surface, fatigue of a muscle, wave and sign caused by the fall of a body: every element that connects arts and tools to matter finds value for me. In “My Valley”, a series of works realized for my solo exhibition at the Mark Müller Gallery in Zurich, I take the viewers by hand into a visual and sound landscape recreating the deep of Romagna, with images, sculptures, sounds and performative acts, which narrate my gaze on my homeland. A real journey among simulacra, masks and ghosts of the hinterland where, to quote a famous phrase by Fellini, «Nothing is known, everything is imagined».

Riccardo Baruzzi, I can’t hear you, 2020. Inkjet print on Photo Rag smooth paper, diptych, 33 x 48 cm each. Ph Pierluigi Giorgi, courtesy Premio Osvaldo Licini by Fainplast

In the series “Cetrioli e noci su olmo tramutato” (Cucumbers and walnuts on transformed elm), on display at the Osvaldo Licini Contemporary Art Gallery, you stage an impossible dialogue between a mutant elm branch, fruits and vegetables that in reality do not belong to that tree: what is the sense of this disorientation?
“Cetrioli e noci su olmo tramutato” is a series of works that continues the cycle “Reversed still lifes”. Apples, peaches, tomatoes and cucumbers are painted on the back of the stretched cotton so that on the front of the fabric – the side of the work visible to the viewer – only the “chromatic ghost”, the trace, is recognizable. The last gesture, the last fruit, is instead placed on the front surface of the work; from that fruit the title comes, for example: “Peach with reversed still life”. The traditional still life is reversed, and therefore hidden. The operation carried out in the “Reversed still lifes”, the inversion of the painted surface, in this new cycle is replaced by a sort of monotype: cucumbers and walnuts are first painted individually on a scrap of canvas with a greasy and material oil paint. In the second phase, a virgin cotton canvas is placed over the cucumber, or painted nut. By mounting my body on a wooden panel (where the two canvases are placed) I subsequently obtain a new image, specular to the matrix. Once again, the sign of the brushstroke is hidden, compressed, erased: a further subversion of tradition, a gentle game on the way to a new path. The colours of the backgrounds are industrially coloured cottons, while on the untreated canvas a second background is made by me: the spray branches, where the clippings of the nuts and cucumbers will be glued. These branches (the same ones I used for the hands of the “Scarecrow” series) are placed directly on the canvas, to compose bare foliage, a different motif each time given by the negative of the colour, a rayograph made of spray. The unusual shape of the elm branch, once again mutated, and the non-existence of cucumbers together with nuts on trees create the image of a fictitious and artificial natural world, a mirror, or negative, of the contaminated environment. At the same time, the composition establishes an internal balance based on a formal beauty that offers a poetic horizon of redemption from the decay of nature.

Valeria Fontana


Riccardo Baruzzi, Il margine del cielo e della terra
curated by Alessandro Zechini
4/12/2022 – 5/03/2023
Galleria d’Arte Contemporanea Osvaldo Licini
Corso Giuseppe Mazzini 90, 63100 Ascoli Piceno


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