"Alberto Sughi: Solitudes inside a city"
[...] It was with these individual men and women, with neither blood nor souls, and non-communicating groups in streets, at the cinema, in the bars, with these ghosts of the Italian economic miracle that the story opens in this new museum which stands at the edge of an indescribable jumble of buildings which spreds like cancer from Legnano to Castellanza due to the selfsame miracle. They owe their already long established presence in the world of Italian realism and their peculiar proposals for new urban landscapes (which Del Guercio immediately christened pittura urbana or urban painting) to those unique cultural emphases of that prehistoric period.
As was so rightly observed by Bossaglia, these emphases were born from a close attention (which was first and foremost pictorial) to the thread of nineteenth century reality, which was somewhat less clamorously "social", extending from Toma and De Nittis to Boldini. On the other hand, these images also established a connection with those existential areas of non-ideological realism (but this does not stop them from denouncing the betrayal of every hope), from the Roman Gruppo del Portonaccio, which includes Muccini and Vespignani, to the Milanese school, without, in my opinion, excluding the tradition of the Roman school still personified in Ziveri. A refined style of painting that is simultaneously a style soaked in "ashes and poison", which, in the guise of a traditional craft of alchemy with its coloured powders and oxides, actually presents the fluorescence of new technologies and rhythms with cinema-like scenes and close-ups. The narrative vision is already born which, as we find in Guttuso, is always exciting and not just documentary. It is sequential and cyclic on the one hand while, on the other, it is broad pensive, and with a cultural awareness balanced between the Italian tradition and a long hard study of the forms of this century's paintings within Europe and the United States. As long ago as 1957, Lorenza Trucchi had gleaned the artist's affinity with the realists of the New Deal American scene as expounded by Hopper and Levine. Certainly, there is no doubt that the bruised solitude of his Uomini al Cinema (Men at the Cinema), Uomini al bar (Men at the Bar) and the lovers in the unmade bed from Cronaca di un amove, is the second German expressionist school of Grosz and Dix. However, there is also the precocious appearance of a vibrato of phantasmagorical disassociation from the objectivity of the images which is typical of those of Sughi's paintings which tend towards Bacon and, later, Lucien Freud, Petlin and Sutherland.
By saying that this quality is "typical", I am in no way suggesting that there is any element of dependency. Rather, this quality allows Sughi, and his cyclic/thematic specificity of a decaying Italy, to propound a third pictorial exigency between Guttuso and Vespignani which is both pictorial and moral.
The exhibition is held in a single room and presents a contrast between the grievous, crass and illusionist reality of La Cena of 1976 (of which the poet Lajolo wrote "Le tue nuove tele stavano I dipanando un racconto estatico e tragico I l'ultima cena di una borghesia consunta"- Your new canvases unravelled an exctatic and tragic story, the last supper of a spent bourgeoisie -while the director Scola used a number of these works in a poster for his film Terrazza) and the intense human pity and reminiscences of the La Famiglia cycle of 1981. It may appear that over the last ten years the artist has withdrawn into himself. However, in reality the anguish, the existential condemnation of urban solitude (but this solitude at the cafe returns and is reminiscent of Picasso's blue and pink periods), has changed into a nobly melancholic and more universal relationship with the environment, between the couple and the sun setting over the sea or the garden, between the painter and the model in the half-light of the studio, expressionistically swarming with pictorial energy. This represents the attainment of a relationship between the pictorial richness of Sughi with the art of this century and its roots in the grand masters Munch and Bonnard.
[From "Tuttolibri", supplement to "La Stampa", No. 747, april 1991]
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