The success of a cultural event depends also on the incisiveness expressed by its title and theme. I am affirming this, because planning and organising artistic events, as in this case, is not an easy thing. The organisers must have qualities such as tenacity and study in order to avoid falling into banality or mediocre revivals, and they must have the ability of identifying artists able to face the themes supporting these kinds of events. In this regard, I believe that the exhibition “Vagiti Ultimi” (Last Vagituses) has shown to possess all the above-mentioned positive characteristics since it is at its IV edition thanks to the fruitful work done to convey art.
Even the name of the association, corresponding to the one of the event, shows the will to commit themselves, promoting culture, as well as a touch of charming creativity. In fact, the words contained in the sentence “Vagiti ultimi” form an oxymoron expressing opposite concepts one next to the other, but that at the same time, takes into account different interpretations of the artistic intention. This happens because the rhetorical figure contained in the title acquires a special characteristic due to the value and position of the adjective after the noun. In fact, the adjective “last”, often used with negative meaning to identify the conclusion of an event or action, sometimes catastrophic or with no return, as for example, in “The Last Days of Mankind” by Karl Kraus, where the adjective announces the approaching of the apocalypse on the world. As already mentioned, in the specific case of our title it assumes a completely different meaning. Being positioned after the noun “vagituses”, which literally indicates the first baby cry, it symbolises the new principles of art, thus, its ideal and general negative value is softened and transformed, attributing to this latter a literal and restrictive meaning able to decrease the paradoxical value of the oxymoron since it gives the sensation that it is not the final result after a long series, but the last generated or most recent one, in chronological order, entering the world of art. In fact, the title of this exhibition assumes a strong rhetorical value, just like the actual vagituses are tangible signs of life that begins, the metaphorical ones indicate the starting of a new work of art shown to the world for the first time.
Therefore, the hidden play on words contained in the oxymoron can be translated as the will, by the association, of showing to the audience the most recent expressions of creativity not randomly, but involving the artists in an intriguing theme source of interesting evidence, as the same title of the exhibition “8 Cadimi addosso” reveals. This latter is formed by the combination of a number with a locution that metaphorically hides the actual meaning of the exhibition in which the artists must perform, that is, the need of balance. Undoubtedly, balance has different definitions according to the various sectors of human knowledge such as physics or chemistry, but I believe that within the specificity of the exhibition, and with particular reference to the number eight, seen as the symbol of universal harmony, it must be considered as a state where everything is at the right place, starting from nature up to man. It is clear that this has the innate need of keeping stable its internal and external “barycentre”, but when it is deviated by futile contingencies, it loses its harmony and moves towards self-destruction. Therefore, the art, thanks to its educational and evocative power, and ability of stimulating thoughts and dialogues, has a fundamental role in preventing man disorientation.
In order to understand how the artists participating in this exhibition pay special attention to the concept of balance, according to their individual characteristics, we only need to observe their productions/realisations, regardless of whether they were realised with traditional or experimental modalities and means. In fact, the meaning emerging from all the works is mainly intellectual, while there is no perceptive and sensorial fracture or disharmony between the parts composing the signifier.
Each artist offers an exhibition range that places him within the three main categories that, even if generating apparent contradictions, have always harmonised the world of art, even if only in a simple relation of comparison. The first category is intimist, aimed at focusing the attention on the subjective or interior dimension and often on everyday life aspects; the second is experimental, aimed at evidencing, verifying, and combining new concepts and expressions making them functional and positive; the third is social or sociological, aimed at analysing the interrelations and structures of our society as well as its relation with the individual and reveal its causes, effects, virtues, and defects. To confirm what stated above, we just need to compare the intellectual paths of many artists, as for example, Franco Costalonga, Oddino Guarnieri, and Santorossi (the list could continue) that, even if having different dialectics, reveal serious and solid artistic awareness. However, it is necessary to point out that said types are not rigid and closed, or rather one cannot exists without the others and they can be intersected, overlapped, and aggregated. These characteristics can be found also in the participants in the IV edition of “Vagiti Ultimi” and, according to the internal or practical needs, they decide to make one prevail or, if necessary, to combine them.
We can also affirm that these artists, in the freedom of art, not linked to any futile concept such as the contradiction between past and present, and thanks to their indispensable intellectual honesty, serious commitment, and creative modality/instrumentality, and close to the intellectual experimentation (meant as thought) or intellectual reflection, in its turn is divided into subjective-interior and objective-exterior, have the occasion to show the visitors their works without falling into boring challenges or reiterated traditionalisms.
The first artist belonging to the experimental movement,aimed at looking for new expressions for which even science is not the objective, but becomes the means to diffuse messages, is the “multi-technical” Marco Ulivieri who sees art as the possibility to recreate and experiment. To implement his ideas, he uses a personal programmed conceptuality, made of creativity and a strong, almost scientific, technical and executive intentionality, (he creates his works through the oscillations of a pendulum that deposits quartzite on the support) clearly inspired by Spatialism and Optical Art. The subject of this artist is therefore a form/structure revealed through representations of lines, curves, spirals, circles, and modules that match, penetrate each other, or combine according to a codified rhythm where everything is coherence, balance between parts, attention to balances, and visual assonances. He is able to create in his works perfect relations based on the tangible perception of an algid and abstract space, as well as on the sense of time that flows in circle, making the observer meditate on universal concepts. Just like the previous artist, the polyhedric group Star Node interprets talent as the possibility to recreate and experiment. This group is far from the concept of represented subject, meant as recognisable and settled content, to concentrate on the realisation of a creative “product” able to emphasise the gestural theme value of the artistic act/moment, to reinterpret both the visual mimesis (meant as revelation), and the supporting concept, not meant as device or element that supports the others rigidly fixing their position. Consequently, the work of art transforms into a skilful orchestration carried out by the artists, composed of a constructed synthesis between different sectors of human knowledge, as science, technology, and artistic expressivities such as music, all included in a complex performing action that involves not only the artists, but often, even the audience. A harmonised mix that, using the potentialities offered by contemporaneity, as for example technological means and instruments with enormous potentialities like the computer, aims at stimulating the most hidden emotions of those who observe and/or participate in the performances they conceive, through sensorial perception.
The most numerous group of participants in the exhibition belongs to the intimist section. These artists use their sensitivity to analyse their own or entire mankind interiority, evidencing characteristics and incongruences.
Valerio Anceschi is the first in alphabetical order, to have this ideal inclination, which he transformed into study, decoding it in creative dialogue. In fact, for him the artist has a specific task: just like art shows human changes, the artist moves and creates developing forms, moved by an unconscious force. This similitude makes the intrinsic relation between Anceschi’s innermost self and life emerge. The flexuosity, curves, spirals, hyperboles, and tangles generated by his metals that, fragile and light fluctuate and vibrate harmoniously in space with their evolutions, evidence how the artist attributes to the concept of movement a double function, the first is to satisfy his desires as creator; the second, is to make sure that it becomes symbol of biographical evolution able to impress who looks at his works. This way the spectator will meditate not only on the work as an object, but also on its vital sense. Even Sebastian Bieniek tries to give an order to the intimate spirituality of man, freeing him from the contradictions and paradoxes of modern times. Instead of using great constructs from which we are often deviated because of their exaggerated complexities, which make the message not too clear, the artist uses simplicity. He uses a common and clear visual grammar that seems to be made for children, but that actually aims at making the image comprehensible. This almost playful simplicity based on little things, is however only apparent, because instead, it is the result of a meticulous planning aimed at making people interact. His photos show surreal portraits of unnatural double faces (let us observe for example the eyes: one is real since it belongs to the portrayed person, while the other is symbolic since it has been drawn on the person’s face) that paradoxically question us both about negative concepts, such as deceitfulness, incoherence, inner instability of man, and about the need of “reconstructing” the dialogue (in the etymological sense of the term) between the two faces: the metaphorical portrayed one and the real external one. Only by cleaning his soul, man will be able to harmonise his conscience again.
Likewise, the polyhedric and experimental sculptress Lia Cavo, with her environmental sculptures and installations, moves within collective instances, analysing the objectivity that surrounds her, concentrating on man’s sensitive themes and not looking for final answers, but instead for solicitations that can facilitate inner analysis. The artist realises works composed of anthropomorphic elements, where the “surrogates” of human body, the products of society, and the animal or plant world combine, creating a unique environment able to expand in space according to the dimensions and having strong symbolic, especially allegorical, values. In fact, these latter give a deeper, hidden, and connotative meaning to the works thus they are able to stimulate reflection. Therefore, Lia Cavo aims at stimulating not only the rationality meant as introspectiveness of the observer that admires her charming works, but also at evoking feelings, desires, and sense of identity.
Always in the same category, but with a different “shade”, there are the ancient statuary reminiscences present in Alba Gonzales’ sculptures that induce contemporary man to reflect on how the taste for classicism, when it becomes an ideal and practical means of expression necessary to reveal and concretise the intellectual aspirations of the artists, as well as to diffuse messages that penetrate deeply into the soul, is still current and not only a silent and obsolete repetition. In fact, the intriguing combination of the archaic and mythological matrixes, and the realistic, symbolic, and sometimes surreal expressive modalities characterising the works of the sculptress, transform them into representations of hidden values with inner and psychological (not psychoanalytical) references able to penetrate the unconscious of the observer and make him analyse himself and his existence. This way, Alba Gonzales gives those who admire her statues the awareness that understanding one’s own fears, anxieties, and desires is fundamental to feel free and improve ourselves. Even the sculptress Luisa Elia analyses the innermost aspects of soul through material. This latter is transformed by the artist to decode its ideal instances into a metaphor: just as life is unpredictable according to different events, material, thanks to its variable ductility, can express the vicissitudes of man. It is clear that the artist moves away from figural realism to consider a new subject in which the changing of the structure that substantiates the message prevails, and the same message moves towards the symbolisation of works making the solid and variegated modelling on plastic, sometimes close to modularity, emerge, together with a new definition of the relation between material and form. Therefore, this latter assumes archetypal connotations, meant as innate and predetermined ideas of the unconscious because deriving from primitive mythology, and ancestral because instinctively expressed by man since the very beginning. This way the artist creates a sort of “living sculpture” that impresses the innermost psyche of the spectator bringing him back to consistent and ancestral memories and analysing himself about his past, present, and future. The group of these artists that analyse the human spirit and its implications is closed by the painter Lillo Messina. Unlike the others of the group, he does not analyse the relations between the interior and exterior self, but creates a world where man can escape from reality, often full of tragedies and problems, and find shelter in a dreamy place-space that allows him to find catharsis, “refresh” his soul and find new strength to face the problems of life. His abstract forms curved and based on plastic and bright colours, are transformed into a sort of suspended Atlantean islands and, at the same time, immersed in endless backgrounds composed of oneiric skies and/or seas with a substantial narrative substratum. Everything invites to move beyond reality and start an inner journey, where the same paintings become picturesque stages. A sort of shelter, full of Mediterranean lights and colours, in a dreamy and surreal atmosphere steeped, on one hand, in echoes and biographical memories, which represent the substratum, and on the other hand, in imagination that emanates a joyful happiness able to enjoy those who observe the paintings transmitting, at the same time, astonishment, digression, and fairy-tale sensations.
To the sociological inspiration section, where the artists use their creativity trying to decode the changes of collective modernity, adheres the versatile Luciano Lupoletti who, with an intense intellectual action wants to represent contemporary world in all its paradoxical or normal aspects, through an expressivity based on a skilful combination of figurative and symbolic features meant as opening of the senses, surreal and sometimes imaginary. He gives to his works such a narrativity to make them become a web of events having as subject man and life. Therefore, the artist sees art as an educational means to reveal, through the metaphors with literary and imaginary references, hidden truths and human and social incongruences. But not only. Lupoletti wants the observer to reflect on his inner condition and his relation with the world as an individual who is part of a community, offering reasons for reflection (just think about the wide range of references starting from the ancient myth up to the current commercialisation and massification) out of time and space and able to bring him away from the common and apparent thought, to make him understand the hidden but at the same time actual truths.
In conclusion, we must mention that the event takes place in a context rich in history, art, and culture as the one of Atri, gorgeous city of Abruzzo region located on a hill and pervaded by an ancient atmosphere. The exhibition is held inside the picturesque Stables of the massive Palazzo Ducale (building dating back to the late fourteenth century and built on roman remains). The environment where the exhibition takes place is made of a succession of underground rooms built with solid rocks and with vaulted ceilings, chosen by the association because they are the ideal historical and evocative place for the intellectual itinerary of the exhibition, and to combine, in a synergic complex, the ancient past of the city with the “last vagituses” of its contemporary cosmopolitan culture.
By Siro Perin
Translation and adaptation Bobbie Kirby.