The poetics of the wall. The forgotten wall.
Works of art can be placed at the service of decoration, allowing the construction of true large pictorial “environments”. In the “Archeologie” collection, the porcelain stoneware surfaces take on the consistency of a new, extraordinary space in which the author transfers and deposits a few key traits from his personal artistic poetry, developing a range of modern coverings that have the appearance of a coloured surface destined to survive the tests of time and become a memory.
CRITICAL TEXT BY SILVIA EVANGELISTI: “THE RISK”
It is difficult to resist the beauty of Franco Guerzoni’s art, created by a rare harmony of feeling and intellect, poetry and mind. The artist expresses this through paintings which, although complex in structure, are joyous and sensual, with bright colours made, like those of the great masters of the past, from choice powdered ingredients. A painter with a technique rich in traditional skills, Guerzoni offers a version of modernity involving an intense fundamental relationship with his images and with space. In fact, the dialectic between painting and space, form and architecture, time and memory seems to be essential to his art. As his works specifically created for CEDIT clearly express, his creations achieve a perfect balance between the spatial dimension and intensely lyrical use of colour, which here becomes a soft, liquid form of matter, wandering across the surface of a dazzling lime-plaster white. White, metaphor for the clear light of day, as it was in the large, complex canvases exhibited in his personal exhibition at the 1990 Venice Biennale, is the background for forms of colour which renew the pleasure to be had from painting and the memory of an image glimpsed on the vast expanse of the surface. In the more recent works, these voluptuous shades are transformed into subtle shadows of colour that delicately caress the surface.
All it takes is one wall, the only surviving wall of what was once a house, on which time has recorded its own, unavoidable passing, leaving traces of colour that is still vibrant, although faded in places, to allow the memory of the image to transpire, fragile and uncertain, in the physicality of the surface, to bear tangible witness to the existence of history, a mysterious visual memory, the extension into the present of the life of things. A memory of the past on a contemporary wall. The idea of memory is central to Franco Guerzoni’s poetics: private, secret memory and the collective memory of the past. Fragmentary and indecipherable, perceived by the artist with the aid of what is left of the images, the fragment. A relic of a totality which can no longer be reconstructed but only imagined in poetic terms, the fragment, a fraction of an image conserved by time, guides the artist’s fantastic archaeological journey in search of the world’s memory. However, this journey takes him in the opposite direction to the archaeologist, for whom the fragment - fundamental because it reveals a trace of the past – is the starting-point for an attempt to reconstruct history. For Guerzoni, the fragment is the endpoint of his work, the goal for which he strives in his investigation of the surface, as he digs deep down, leafing through the deposits of time and memory.
Like the large pages of a book traced with fragile sketches, embryonic forms whose meaning has been lost in time, leaving only fleeting traces, uncertain, ambiguous, mysterious morphologies. It marks the start of a journey into the mind of the artist-archaeologist, an adventurous journey into the inextricable labyrinth of the mind, to unearth what is hidden, shuffling the cards in a perennial contamination of images, memory, signs and traces, in search of a meaning, which no sooner appears than it is lost, merging into time and once again becoming a dream, an imaginary journey into fantasy and wonder. And this is the case in the tryptic created for CEDIT, which placed a new challenge before the artist: to transfer “his” image, the remains and fragments of a forgotten wall onto a new material for him – stunning, large-sized ceramic slabs – and a real wall, without this tautology betraying the painting’s deep meaning, its fertile magic of lines and colours, from which the image is born. And the artist is fully aware of this. Guerzoni describes his art as a “gamble”: a gamble that is a critical test, an act of daring, dangerous and risky. This is the challenge he sets himself. It is a challenge he easily overcomes, expressing himself on these large walls with a rediscovered pleasure in painting, no longer restrained and apparently absorbed by the dense, uneven coloured surface but set free and almost luxuriously accentuated. In his large, demanding works for CEDIT, Guerzoni achieves a new, consummate mode of painting, in which the architecture of the surfaces provides a poetic meeting-point between the two founding components of his style, the complex, well thought-out composition and the lyricism of colour.
Franco Guerzoni (Modena, 1948), artist, has focused since the early Seventies on producing works that recount a personal exploration of the world of archaeology, concentrating in particular on the stratifications of culture and the ideal of the “antique” as loss and absence. He adopts precise systems for representing images, also using photography, while continually referencing the work of his contemporaries (including Vaccari, Parmiggiani and Ghirri).