21 jan / 21 feb.2016
via galliera, 8
“Crocifissioni/Crucifixions”. A title chosen to inquire about the way in which three artists, all very different, have dealt with the theme of the ‘sacred’, suddenly changes its meaning.
The Paris massacre which took place on November 13th 2015 has thrown above us the huge weight not just of death, which naturally belongs to life’s horizon, but rather of the violent cynicism which is used to plan it, hitting anyone who thinks differently, anyone who lives differently, anyone who starts each day with a smile, freely unveiling themselves.
This weight becomes even heavier because of the religious roots the assassins invoke, this way inverting the sense of the sacred which has long detached itself from the offers of human sacrifices to the Gods.
That massacre, just for the fact of having taken place, has modified and charged the semantic, cultural and political value of the term “crucifixion”, confirming its roots but also uprooting it from them, allowing it to explode together with those dead people and transforming it from the Christian symbol of redemption into a universal icon of pain caused by the brutality of crimes committed in the name of a faith, whichever this is and of whichever nature it is, religious rather than laic.
This way the strongest symbol of Christian identity expands to become universal expression of a tormented humanity, reminding everyone what can happen when faith is not balanced by reason. The sacred belongs to humanity much longer before belonging to the religions which have expressed it.
The exhibition becomes an image of this concept.
“If the material that emerged from Bacon's studio after his death is problematic because of its lack of real artistic quality, the same cannot be said of the drawings that are part of the collection he donated to Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino.
These are ambitious works, signed and on a large scale, dearly made as independent works of art.
In many ways they seem to sum up the essence of what Bacon tried to do during his past artistic life.
Why were they made, and why have they remained at least half-hidden for so long?
The evidence is that Bacon, at the end of his career, found his celebrity increasingly oppressive. His solution was to slip away to places where he was little known or not known at all, where he could stroll from bar to bar and from restaurant to restaurant, and amuse himself as he wished.
One of his favorite places for escapes of this kind was Italy.
A constant companion in his Italian adventures was a young and handsome American-Italian called Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino.
There is plenty of evidence that they were often seen together, in locations as different from one another as Bologna, Venice and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Francis Bacon donated these drawings to his young friend and in this, they resemble the ones Michelangelo made, well on in years, for the young Tommaso Cavalieri.
There seem to have been several motivations for making them, apart from Bacon's desire to commemorate a friendship.
One was simply restlessness.
Though happy to get away from the confines of his studio, Bacon still wanted to make art — but art of a light and portable kind (though not all of the drawings were made in Italy, some appear to have been done in London).
At the end of his life, he wanted to try a new medium, one that had dearly always daunted him. He also seems to have wanted to correct mistakes made in the past.
One striking feature of this series of drawings is that they recapitulate themes from work made much earlier in his career. Even if the drawings belong to the fast decade of Bacon's artistic activity, their subjects are those that Bacon became associated with in the 1950s — the Popes after Velazquez and the portraits of businessmen. The Pope images are expanded into a series of portraits of ecclesiastics, perhaps inspired by what Bacon saw in the streets of Italian towns. There are also images of the Crucifixion, a subject that obsessed the artist throughout his life.
Bacon frequently expressed dissatisfaction with the early works that had made his reputation, and these are an attempt to do better.
Bacon regarded his relationship to Ravarino as unofficial, in the sense that he could never get his friend to commit himself to something fully public — Ravarino was worried about what his family would say).
He seems to have thought of the drawings as being essentially unofficial as well.
He went into considerable trouble to keep their existence secret from his commercial representatives, the powerful Marlborough Gallery, who wished to preserve his shamanic persona even more than the artist did.
One fascinating aspect of these drawings is that they are the work of a Laocoon, a man struggling hard to escape from the entwining serpents of his own myth, and to return to the pleasure of making art for its own sake — no other reason than that”.
Edward Lucie Smith
Exhibition in Bologna
Since 1927, when at the age of 16, Francis Bacon had decided to “try” and become a painter, for all his life he had the image of crucifixion in front of his eyes.
Which he painted more than one time.
Not only the upside down one by Cimabue, of which he kept a reproduction in his London studio; but also the “sadomasochistic” one by his friend and teacher Roy de Maistre, nowadays found at the Leicester Museum; and particularly the one by Grunewald, now at the Musée d’Unterlinden in Colmar.
There have been more, just as important.
Hermann Nitsch is one of the founders of the Viennese Actionism Movement and the creator of the Das Orgien Mysterien Theater (Theater of Orgies and Mysteries) which indissolubly combines life, art, philosophy, music, theater and painting.
In Crucifixions two of his most important drawings are exhibited: The Last Supper (1976-79) and the Deposition in the Sepulcher (2007). Two fundamental moments in the life of Christ, where the humanity of God’s son prevails, become the synthesis of the creative process of the Viennese master, which represents human existence in its two aspects, Apollonian and Dionysian, spiritual and sensual.
All invasions are barbaric…the unspeakable tortures not only shake consciences…they also affect our skin. A crime into a crime, inhuman…it is the plague which illegally vexes us.
Brutal and cruel tortures. A youth with a bandage is screaming….dogs and beasts which fidget next to a corpse…a naked hooded man, even he is disguised. The tortures carry on. I’m drawing (I’m trying to) the massacre. Everything is the earth-colored, purple the central figure, black the tortured one. A big pair of scissors on his head. Maybe too “literary” too descriptive... Will I manage to have my style – my job recognized? I must reduce brutality as a process but without renouncing to being…. Pozzati…even though barbarity is not in my “cylinder”.
21 jan / 21 feb.2016
via galliera, 8
MON - FRI 15.00 - 20.00
SAT, SUN 10.00 - 20.00