What is the primary matrix of painting? What mysterious forces guide the instinct of artists when they manipulate matter to make their intuitions visible in the absence of real referents? The answers are multiple and all equally foundational depending on which poetics are taken as reference to attempt this investigation as old as painting and equally changeable, despite the constitutive loyalty to an exploration field that is identified with the pre-verbal dimension. Painting therefore as the construction of an elsewhere made up of shapes and colours, in which the human being mysteriously recognizes himself without ever being able to fully understand his elusive location, which hovers in a liminal zone between pure ideas, emotions and sensorial perceptions.
At OTTO Gallery four artists from different generations experiment with themselves in the light of this question in a comparison between peers led by one of them, who invites them to dialogue with his hypothesis in this regard, triggering a silent conversation between everyone’s works selected by him. The artists invited are Loris Cecchini (Milan, 1969), Vincenzo Schillaci (Palermo, 1984), Marco Tirelli (Rome, 1956) and Matteo Montani (Rome, 1972), the creator of the project who therefore participates both as an interlocutor and as curatorial director. The exhibition is part of an experimental format of the gallery which includes in its programming an annual event in which one of its artists proposes and creates an exhibition project by inviting others to try their hand at a theme. The intent is to address an each time different discourse on art through its specific expressive codes, responsible for conveying different languages into a participatory meditation.
The reflection on which this exhibition focuses is the establishment of an analogy between the dynamics of pictorial making and those of nature starting from the concept of natura naturans, a Latin expression which finds its first conception in scholastic philosophy and subsequently in the ” De la causa, principio et uno” (1584) by Giordano Bruno. The Latin neologism “naturare” summarizes here the typical action of nature, that is, its ability to autonomously produce its own reality animated by an internal energy that is always renewed, diversifying and constantly changing. Nature therefore, as an entity producing self-referential forms, according to Matteo Montani, implements a perpetual creative process similar to that which moves artistic creation, in turn fueled by intrinsic forces that draw on the transcendent dimension with the same inexhaustible capacity for differentiation with which nature keeps itself alive. What we see in the exhibition are therefore interior landscapes which, despite suggesting the recognisability of elements belonging to the natural kingdom, such as clouds, dunes, geological concretions, tides or glaciers, in reality are placed not on a level of imitation but of spontaneous convergence at the procedural level.
Matteo Montani presents here the most recent results of his experiments on canvas with mixtures of pigments and metal powders which, by focusing on the differences in level of the pictorial plane, create powerful three-dimensional effects, always subject to change depending on the incidence of light that crosses them. This research is part of a broader reflection, previously carried out through the use of solvents and abrasive papers, on the image conceived as an iridescent expectation of an apparition generated by the adjustments of the material manipulated to emanate and retain the flashes of a light which exceeds the laws of physics to become the epiphany of a transcendent apparition. The spiritual connotation of his approach is particularly evident in ” Sulla melodia delle cose” (2022), a precious panel where a dark background becomes the scene of the expansion of a sumptuous golden light. The reference to the natural archetype as a micro and macro matrix of forms is more evident in “Brina” (2023), a mysterious landscape in which the clumping of aluminum powders along orogenic force lines create the illusion of infinite overlapping horizons staggered in depth as if they were the virtuosic undercuts of an imperceptibly projecting bas-relief.
The interest in creating works that are dynamic to perception unites Montani’s poetics with that of Loris Cecchini, represented here by two large works from the “Aeolian Landforms” series, which seem to explore the potential of the pictorial dimension through sculpture. In fact, these are wavy surfaces in epoxy resin covered with a nylon fiber which gives them a velvety consistency, very tempting to the touch, and which at the same time recalls the dusty instability of sand caressed by the wind and its changing reflections. The artist’s practice, which has always been based on the experimentation of unusual and industrial materials, uses science and technology as heuristic tools aimed at declining his aesthetic language in a constant relationship with nature understood as a permanent matrix of forms. The effect of these sculptures, ideal fragments of impossible prêt-à-porter deserts, is disturbing due to an oxymoronic mix of artificial and mimetic references that ambiguously stimulates our senses, triggering alternating sensations of estrangement and recognition starting from environmental images that our eyes interpret as contradictorily tense between form and unrepeatability.
The research by Vincenzo Schillaci, the youngest artist on display, focuses instead on the original emergence of the image, which is pursued through the material clarification of the temporality and memory of the work. His works take shape in a laborious game of stratifications carried out by superimposing layers of chalk, lime and mineral powders on the table interspersed with more classical pictorial backgrounds created with pigments, tempera and inks. The traces of this progression are intentionally left visible at the edges of the pictorial surface (which reveal uniform abstract spreads) and in the lateral thicknesses, where the chromatic paste rises revealing itself as a composite body. Here the contrast is between the apparent evanescence of the surface layers, which appear as inconsistent colored vapors as the underlying processes shine through, and the contemporary exhibition of their unsuspected weight and sculptural presence. The artist’s works could be assimilated to alchemical experiments, in which the visual transmutation of materials generates latent images that appear to manifest themselves only from particular points of view. In the three works from the “Phantasma” series present in the exhibition, the chromatic harmonies put into play are a distillation of natural impressions, in which the essences of the petal, of the light filtered by the undergrowth, of the vegetal humours, of the sky or of the ‘rain water seem to condense.
Marco Tirelli’s works appear as grainy enlargements of black and white photographic prints, on which the artist intervenes by spraying nebulized tempera to further make the pictorial surface unstable. The swarm of dots here too has to do with a condition of latency of the image, which appears as a revelation contextually denied in its imminent dissolution. In this way the supposed incontrovertible solidity of the portrayed objects crumbles before our eyes, leading them back to that inexplicable elsewhere in which, as we mentioned at the beginning, the images emerge, meet and regenerate under the action of forces that escape the full control of the artists themselves. Their illusionistic nature is particularly evident here, in that particular meaning that returns subtly and with different intonations in all the works on display: therefore not the illusion understood as fiction, but the analogical detection of the unspeakable in the form of temporary aggregations of pictorial matter. The conclusion of this excursus is therefore a question to be inevitably left open on the relationship that the artwork produces between us and the transcendent and which the artists involved under Montani’s direction assimilate to an ineluctable force such as the natura naturans of the ancients.
Loris Cecchini, Matteo Montani, Vincenzo Schillaci, Marco Tirelli. Stazionari Altrove
7/10/2023 – 15/01/2023
in collaboration with:
Galleria Continua e Galerie Rolando Anselmi
Via D’Azeglio 55, Bologna
Graduated in art history at DAMS in Bologna, city where she continued to live and work, she specialized in Siena with Enrico Crispolti. Curious and attentive to the becoming of the contemporary, she believes in the power of art to make life more interesting and she loves to explore its latest trends through dialogue with artists, curators and gallery owners. She considers writing a form of reasoning and analysis that reconstructs the connection between the artist’s creative path and the surrounding context.