The artists who have been invited this year to participate in the well-established contemporary art exhibition ''Last Whimpers'' have measured themselves with a stimulating and opened to various interpretations theme, as the Ante Mortem <Before Death>, understood as the moment that precedes the end of the creative labor and therefore the ideal death of a work of art. As if to say that paintings, graphics, sculptures, performances, photographs, installations proposed claim to be incomplete in the sense of "unfinished", so still alive and opened to dialogue with the user. The result is a new definition of the exhibition: for Last Whimpers contemporary means simultaneous, because there is no longer an art to exhibit, but to live, to create together, artists and viewers, during the event.
If death cannot be dealt apart from life, here is how the 25 participating artists have extended and personalized that existential analysis wanted by Ante Mortem, giving us highest examples of their own fantasy.
Among the foreign authors the Greeks Nikos Gyftakis and Adam Martinakis have both tied their investigation to the concept of time and stumbled into the theme of duality, overlapping and intertwining different times of complementary personalities. Gyftakis takes two images of the same woman, one is photographed, the other painted, woman taken at different ages and makes it an everlasting memory beyond the transience of life. Martinakis explores the unknown through two bodies, which for the duration of his video installation transform into shapes separated by a fleeting border.
On the same line of research remains the work of Serena Salvadori, which also focuses on the body, naked at birth and denuded by death, asking: "What do you live for?" Her installation is enriched with famous photos, in which we can recognize the celebration of the poetry of nature and the sadness for the passing of time.
Photography is the main means of expression for Andrea Vannini and Rita Antonioli, who respectively portray an urban and a natural landscape, in order to be able to capture a moment, before the world changes and even the idea of life dies. Antonioli, fine artist with a passion for the theater, once again does not deny her point of view, as has happened with the series of portraits of musicians published in 2006 with an introduction by Patti Smith: she weighs well all the scenic elements and focuses for a long time on the sense of the precariousness of life. Vannini has quite an ironic eye, when playing with numbers and figures to justify the mystification of urban space, the trivialization of everyday context. Paying attention to even the most squalid corner of the city, captures it before its final disappearance as a space of security, prosperity and dignity.
Last Whimpers has always been a careful review to the international art scene and has never stumbled into the error of deafness towards the voices of local artists, whom in this very Abruzzi event have made their debut. I am referring to Domenico Bindi, which strongly faces this year's theme and uses real animal remains in order to mock an Italy almost literally bare-bones, and Lucio Nespoli, who completes this scene talking about the wars in the world and reacting with an irreverent gesture. The two authors, who have worked together on the technique of mosaic for decorative purposes, demonstrate the ability to channel the craftsmanship into the creation of a work of art.
Luciano Lupoletti, another artist of Atri, has the same opinion. Artist who brings to the Last Whimpers, of which is the creator and main animator, an installation created in collaboration with Ivo Galassi, who also comes from the world of craft, having inherited the locksmith shop of his father. ''Wolf and Ace'', as they call themselves, give a tribute to Carmelo Bene, remembering his Lectura Dantis from 1981, made by the Tower of Donkeys in Bologna a year after the massacre from the train station. The enigmatic painting of Lupoletti meets the iron armor of Galassi in a complex of large dimensions, which gives the idea of God, "illusion of objectification of the self," as the great Italian actor orated.
Luciano Lupoletti doubles his presence with the duo ''Wolf and Ardo'', Ardo being the nick-name of Alfonso Di Berardo, a graphic designer who has made a pattern of signs in black and white, with Maori flavor, his signature style. They put on display a work of art devoted to the novel ‘’The Lovely Bones’’, where the story of the crimes of a serial killer leaves space for the Ante Mortem moment, in which the art sublimates even the end of human existence. The exercise of creativity allows the two authors to travel between space and time that have much to do with the flashbacks and premonitions, until the final result becomes a total alienating expansion of the history.
A similar art is brought to Last Whimpers by another talent of Atri, Flavio Sciole', which presents a preview of his latest extreme performance, confirming his nature as "anti-narrative artist", as it has been described by critics. This ‘’unexpected expectation’’ involves us in an endlessly repeated scene, in which a delusional man brings us to the edge of a self-inflicted death that never happens. The decline is only feared by repeated sounds, lancets, actions that regenerate incorruptibly, while the link between life and death becomes more and more inseparable.
Sciole' is a well-known name like those of Stefano Ciaponi, Ciro Palladino, Enzo Guaricci e Carlo Moschella, all coming from very different cultural environments, which in some way have influenced their lines of research. Guaricci for example comes from the province of Puglia, but grew up as an artist between Florence and Rome, joining in the seventies to the New Roman Figuration; in Last Whimpers he presents a significant piece of that time, where death is only whispered, implied, hidden behind two mysterious shadows, silhouetted against the naked body of a teenager. Ciro Palladino cries out from his Naples with an intense and dramatic canvas, from the cycle ''More black than black’’, which recounts the death through the cancellation of color and a contemptuous graffiti, while Ciaponi pays homage to his Tuscany origins with the only engraving work in the show, an open window to the world of childhood, where Ante Mortem is the prelude to the loss of innocence. Finally Carlo Moschella, northern character who grew up in Bolzano and got his education in Germany, surprises with a sculpture-painting full of symbolism, which shows in an original way the sources of life and with it the abandonment of the womb.
His modus operandi is similar to the one of Giuseppe D'Orsi, which inserts into the painting 3D elements left free to roam in space and stimulate the imagination: it is the mind of the viewer to assemble all the pieces in an indefinite number of possible works, therefore the art becomes eternal because it is never destined to die, but forced to continuously change.
This sense of unfinished also crosses the works of Lorenzo Bartolucci and Rolando Fidani, who intentionally stop the construction of the shape, before it purchases a totally accomplished sense. Yet their methods are diametrically opposed, as Bartolucci weaves embroidery of hair, which faithfully does not complete, choosing organic matter to impose its track in the world, while Fidani starts with an almost completely structured image, and then destroys it in distinct phases, which eventually leads to the explosion of the reality.
His print in silver salts is yet another proof of the variety of art forms welcomed in Last Whimpers this year. However there are not omitted the main techniques of sculpture and painting. Just admire the work of Sorin Purcaru, which makes contemporary the classical bronze casting through the juxtaposition of unlikely surreal elements, like a bullet cartridge case, a bell, a pair of wings and a series of spring-loaded. The Romanian artist builds this way the figure of the key-keeper of the Kingdom, a modern Peter which remains in a precarious balance on the possibility of man's salvation.
Juliane Schulz as well presents herself as a sculptor, choosing an ancient material like iron. Though not traditional at all is her rusty totem, made of masks that mark the transition between life and death together with the light that passes through them. The artist sees the form dematerialize in the voids, yet still feels the essence of the artwork that has no end and still shows its own presence with all its magical strength.
As for the painters in the exhibition, it goes from a contextualization of the great historical movements such as Pop Art or the Informal, or the Conceptual Art, until you get to the new definitions of art, such as Fluon's, from "flu" (fluorescence) and "on" (ON), a creative hypothesis advanced by Andy, Bluvertigo's musician and all-round artist. Trapped by its fluorescent colors, we enter the work chosen for Last Whimpers, who appears in every way a programming manifesto. Andy takes the symbol - painting of all art's synthesis, ''The Dance'' by Matisse, and then creates a close dialogue with the image of a character taken from the Walt Disney's world: at the dancer's foot pressed against the ground as if it was so elastic, answers the paw of the Aristocat, pressing the tube of paint, showing that everything, especially art, is born from the rhythm. Creating a comparison between master Fauves who experienced the ultra-colors in order to find for his sky "a beautiful blue, the bluest of the blue," as he wrote in a letter, we could say that Andy has set the rhythm of colors to create "a nice fluo, the fluost of the fluo ".
Another author who has somehow found a definition for his own research is Angelo Barile, protagonist of the Pop Surrealism, or a movement which belongs to the Californian magazine "Juxtapoz" and for about twenty years he's been absorbing the influences of science fiction, folklore, comics and much more. Barile offers us an unusual altarpiece for the devotion of a modern myth like the Star Wars saga, focusing on the representation of the character of Darth Fener, the corrupted knight by the Dark Side, a true symbol of the Ante Mortem.
Completely original also the research of El Gato Chimney, which mixes elements of Street Art, Graffiti's, Surrealism and Steampunk in order to understand the sphere of the deepest emotions. His is a world full of symbols and inhabited by fantastic creatures that are not open to man, giving great disturbance and leaving many question marks.
The innovation generated by this group of talented young people arises from the stimulus to focus on creativity to overcome the limitations of contemporary art. To do so, some of the artists featured in this year's Last Whimpers metabolized the lesson of the great masters of the twentieth century and made their own principles. Sometimes this has a great highlight, as in the case of Renato Giorgio, whose painting is strictly informal, but manages to renew every rule of the movement that in the Fifties and the Sixties wanted to deny the form. Other times it should be clarified with a careful study of the piece. So you have to get into the work of Paolo Repetto in order to appreciate the complexity and enclose him in the vein of Conceptual Art: starting with the true story of the murderer Kenneth Allen Mcduff, the artist explores the concept of Ante Mortem either by predicting the conviction with red paint shot on the framework by means of explosive material, or using numbers and signs to make permanent the violence of the episode.
A tough approach to his creative work, which immediately leads to the need for a lighter idea and leads straight to the provocative and irreverent art of Pep Marchegiani, known to everyone by being the one who placed a copy of the David in Florence, urging the rejuvenation of culture. The character that this time the artist shows us, portraying her before death, is Mother Teresa of Calcutta, caught smoking a cigarette in a big Pop painting. The saint appears as an icon emptied of meaning, similar to a media star, and brings with her a sarcastic look on the world.
This Abruzzi artist closes the long list on the team of participants in this third edition of Last Whimpers, which has enriched this year by paying a tribute to the master Pasquale Di Fabio, the unforgettable protagonist of the GAM (The Group of Marsican Artists). Always available to compare with his colleagues in collective exhibitions organized from the Fifties to 1998, the year of his death, he would certainly have appreciated the meeting with artists of the new generation of in the suggestive rooms of the roman cisterns at the Palace of the Dukes of Aquaviva. He would have been even more proud of the tribute that the organizers also pay to his son Alberto di Fabio who has gained an international importance for years now, dotted with important achievements such as the inclusion in the collection of the greatest art collector in the world, Larry Gagosian, and important exhibition in museums and galleries all over the world. His latest production, centered on the representation of neuronal synapses through a painting method called "abstract-organic", synthesizes the interest in science observed with the microscope, with an investigation of the light which today leads him to experiment with psychedelic colors and unexpected appearance of white. The obsession with the forms seen in detail and scientific accuracy of the organic matter strongly bring us back to the geometrical order of Pasquale, who had made a core out of the line in his painted-sculptures. Alberto has learned so the palpable consistency of the bright element, transforming the spiritual harmony of his father in a purely mathematical strictness regarding the substance.
The opportunity to enjoy the work of both, for the first time protagonists together in the Last Whimpers annual event, with a large number of works, it's a gift that will remain in the history of contemporary Abruzzi art.
By Chiara Strozzieri
Translation and adaptation Lavinia Isaila.