giovedì 4 luglio 2024

PITTORI D’ITALIA - Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea - Milano

May 28 – July 19, 2024

Opening: Tuesday May 28th, 2024 from 6.00 p.m.

Giovani, giovanissimi… anzi maturi

108 (Guido Bisagni)
Nicola Caredda
El Gato Chimney
Jacopo Ginanneschi
Agnese Guido
Dario Maglionico
Fulvia Mendini
Riccardo Nannini
Silvia Negrini
Silvia Paci
Paolo Pibi
Melania Toma

curated by Ivan Quaroni

Painting is back in vogue in Italy. This is borne out by the many exhibitions of this medium in art galleries and institutional events, which nevertheless focus more on quantity than quality. Attempts are made to map the new generations, seeking ties with immediately previous traditions, trying – somewhat arduously, to be honest – to identify recurring themes and images. But painting is a difficult art. “The problem with painting (the most difficult of all the arts),” wrote Giorgio de Chirico, “cannot be resolved with small talk and slapdash attitudes.” Mastery of painting calls for sacrifice and hard work, and therefore a good criterion on which to base the selection of today’s paintings should not be based only on demographic factors, but also on quality.

Very well then. But how can we define quality in painting? And above all, who can define painting itself? “We live in a country where everyone thinks they know something about painting, and can thus have their say.” So opined Federico Zeri, according to whom “it is very frequent, in our land, to talk about works of art without a sufficient background, without having trained the gaze to interpret the figurative substance.” Add to all this the situation of favor accorded to painting in the coverage of current trends, which has inevitably produced new ranks of disciples – not only among the younger artists, but even among the gallerists (suddenly bedazzled on the road to Damascus) and the curators à la page (who swear that from the outset they have been vigorous defenders of a centuries-old practice) – managing to make a selection, to separate (as they say) the wheat from the chaff, becomes a truly daunting challenge. Nevertheless, if the operation is conducted by a gallery like that of Antonio Colombo, which since 1998, the year of its founding, has hosted exhibitions of the finest Italian painters, and a curator – like the undersigned – who has never made a mystery of his obsessive taste for paintings and painters, something good might come to pass.

With the rather pompous title of Pittori d’Italia and the ironic subtitle Giovani, giovanissimi… anzi maturi [Young, very young… even mature] – a tribute to the shrewdness of Ennio Flaiano and his famous paradox (definitely, absolutely… even probably), with which the writer and journalist from Abruzzo indicated the blurry boundary between truth and falsehood – we have gathered twelve young and not-so-young Italian painters, in a pithy compendium. An exhibition that does not set out to be the three-dimensional version of an atlas, an almanac or an ambitious register of new painting in the Belpaese, but instead a very secular Book of Hours, with twelve artists who could not be more different from one another, embodying their devotion to the most ancient of visual languages.

They arrive from various regions of Italy, and some live or have lived abroad, demonstrating that an Italian genome of painting does exist, which cannot help but be spurious, contaminated, hybrid. No genius loci and certainly no definition of a presumable “sovereigntist” painting (as someone has tried to proclaim) can describe the complex circumstances that have contributed to their growth. Luckily, no painter whose art is inwardly Italian has ever had to produce citizenship papers. We should remember that Giorgio de Chirico painted his “Piazze d’Italia” from the banks of the Seine, which made him no less Italian, though he wasn’t even born in this country.

108 (Guido Bisagni, Alessandria, 1978), Nicola Caredda (Cagliari, 1981), El Gato Chimney (Milan, 1981), Jacopo Ginanneschi (Grosseto, 1987), Agnese Guido (Lecce, 1982), Dario Maglionico (Naples, 1986), Fulvia Mendini (Milan, 1966), Riccardo Nannini (Grosseto, 1980), Silvia Negrini (Sondrio, 1982), Silvia Paci (Prato, 1990), Paolo Pibi (Oristano, 1987) e Melania Toma (Vicenza, 1996) are artists who represent a variegated congeries of styles, leanings that extend across the entire expressive spectrum of painting, as in a zodiac where each of the twelve houses corresponds to a distinctive method or mood in the range of forms between figuration and abstraction.