Uomo che Dorme
Alberto Sughi, A man asleep in an armchair, oil on canvas, 1964
Alberto Sughi, whose work was already dominated by the theme of the inability to communicate, reduces his compositions to a single individual, inserted into an extremely limited and cramped space, compositions that show a clear relationship with the works of Francis Bacon, who was little known at that time in Italy. Sughi’s familiarity with Bacon’s art was of fundamental importance, as shown by the following: "Bacon was a point of reference for me at a time when our generation was trying to weigh up the suffering of Man in modern society, through his scream of loneliness and pain" (Alberto Sughi 1987, p. 128).
A man asleep in an armchair, with his head back, fills an empty space, marked only by a few brushstrokes. A vertical line indicates the dimensions of the walls and the light blue colouring marks the surface of the floor. This space encloses the figure, with his arms hugging his body – enwrapped, lonely and fragile in the abandonment of sleep. We can spy on him and examine him, unpityingly investigate the lineaments of his face, his slightly hollow cheeks, half-open mouth and, lower down, his outstretched neck. The mass of white enclosing his chest almost seems to be following the silent and involuntary rhythm of his breathing, amplifying it until it fills and saturates this empty and asphyxiating room.
This is no restful nocturnal sleep, but an abandonment, an improvised escape from the world. As often happens in Sughi’s artistic production, the figure, belonging to no well defined context or period, offers himself, undefended in his human fragility, to the gaze of the spectator. If Bacon is for Sughi, at this time, a definite point of reference, the rich brushstrokes and refined structure reveal a clear reference to the great tradition of nineteenth-century realism, the fathers of expressionism, from Honoré Daumier to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. (T.S.L.) Bibliography of Alberto Sughi, 1987.
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