Flavio Caroli


«Can we still narrate nowadays? Yes, we can, replies Sughi... this happens when magic remains suspended in the greatest wonder... this happens when the unchangeable mystery of life calls upon the worlds full of wonder...»

Alberto Sughi, The Park

Acidic, off-yellows that enter the landscape like a flash of blinding light that is visionary, irrational and curiously cut by an unexpected "geo metrical spirit". Washed out greens, small emeralds like chopped pista chio make up the vegetation that is even more brand new, thought-pro voking and far than the contemporary representation. Then an amazing golden byzantine light (The Park 1993) that changes in a Lorrain manner the Roman landscape with its violet background and concentrated penicillin green, with a degree of doubt borde red by a view that follows the great modern tradition ("Redo Poussin on nature..." warned Cezanne); a light that at the moment of building the arborean wall in the background (tur ned into ash in the controluce) recalls directly the concretion of material (once again rigidly bordered by duc- tus) by the proneoimpressionist Monet, towards the end of the 1860's. What is this profound spell that emanates for the latest works by Alberto Sughi ? What does this intense expression mean that attracts and busies critics (accepting that critics know how to do their jobs with the right kind of tools), as has happened in the past, when painting was really thought out and "transmitted". What is this rare thickness, sparkles, choi ces and instantaneous distillations, behind which the long and unbeara ble weight of thought can be intuited and, a conviction that has matured over a century (I hope it's clear to you all, at this point), that painting (even painting of the insides, and perhaps that more than others) is done with the mind and not by the hand? All lasting amazement is derived from the sublime magic of infinite ele ments, and from their sudden diabo lic rush in a flash of seduction, which is the seduction of the image. We assume that "expressing a figurative painting" nowadays, may either be heroic or a waste of time. In the case of Sughi, it is heroic. And this adven ture almost has a physical consi stency, a life that can be measured in terms of quality (here we have said the discriminatory word: quality), a life deposited layer by layer that belongs to painting in the greatest possible meaning.

In the beginning, there is the true "motive" that later on will tend to load itself (only in a second instance) with symbolic values that in the vision of a conscious artist like Sughi, is imme diately exalted from infinite sugge stions from Lorrain, Boecklin and even the cinema of Antonioni. But an order must be applied to primary intuition, the order of a painted page, in which it is impossible to avoid - in the classical western tradition of "thought in figure"- the tectonic order that Cezanne trusted to the instru ments of divine "measurement": the cone, the cylinder and the sphere. Thus, Sughi works mostly using a pencil and perspective. Every centi­metre of his representation is subject to the spacial order that vision concei ves as real and at the very same instant "abstract", an order that scans the floors in the third dimen sion and then disorders them and lays them out onto the surface as much as possible up to the margins of the visible field, an order which does not tolerate a false, accademic, neoftf- teenth century perspective but judges every point or turning of the image as a entity worthy of being led to the rea soning of building and perception. It is a process to which only one intui tion of art in this century adheres: the first method of Mondrian in his segre gated, sensual pilgrimage at the beginning of the 1910s. And at this point, the structural mea ning of the painting is already decided a priori; for its intelligent drawing, the colour can now allow itself rare and precious oddities, exactly as what happens to the Dutch colour in Windmills or in Dune a certain natu­ ralistic tradition is lost forever. And a springtime violet blares out in front of the orangey-red of the Red House (free from every musical tonal attachment, but curiously up to now and through its own determination, respecting its atmospheric and luminous objecti vity), those violets and those oranges will give hommage to the visionary Degas, who due to his excessive love for the truth, went beyond a point and translated his own harshness into the sublime, a modem symphony of the marvels that the eye may or may not enjoy, according to accademic con ventions of western painting. Could we accuse Sughi of intellectualism? We could only do that if we could heartlessly accuse Degas of the same thing. If we did, it would be an intel lectualism that marks a thought out distance from things, or better still a balanced psychological attitude towards the same idea that is "pain ting"; modern painting. So when the picture regarding the perspective and the chromatic choice are solved, afterwards and only afterwards can Sughi abandon himself to its contents and to its cutting literal meaning. We must say that he is very courageous in doing this, as the dangers for a real painter like him (we have tried to show you this) know no limits. Can we still narrate in our times? Yes, we can, Sughi answers and the per son writing this passage modestly thinks the same too. We can when the magic remains suspended in the greatest wonder, and it happens when words and images fly higher than normal, badly used nowadays, and where the unchanging mystery of life addresses itself to the world of wonder, of great beauty and the subli me, of notes hung on a line of mistakes and mystery. We can, when the "style" feeds on doubts: doubts held on the tuning fork of silence that envelops our lives more and more, a life that has not acquired sense or rationality but instead seems to have taken the exact opposite direction. Solitude, the famous solitude of the protagonist Sughi, earth pilgrim like the poet Friedrich but excluded from the exterminated solemnity of the infinite and instead dispersed in an even more imprisoning and insiduous infinity, an infinity that slithers like a reptile in the parks at sunset, the infi nity on terraces where we are impove rished before the insensitive splendor of twilight in Rome, (while the world falls apart in a far off racket of car horns sounding), the infinity of despe ration and desolation of those who leave and those who stay, among bushes that pant every so often as in the scene of crime in Blow Up by Antonioni (it's a name that we cannot leave without the sudden icy suspen sion, among so much beauty of all the poetic pages of this review). Sughi's solitude is in this non-sense of daily routine, within this message of silen ce that transmits the babble of something that remains perpetually inexpressable, and within this pulsa ting light which is not redeeming but instead an intermittant flash of infinite moments that probably coincide with the only completeness and saviour that is possible in this world. The solitude of Sughi in Italian painting of our times is in everything that I will try to list: in the inflexibility of formal thought; in the harsh colours; in the pleasure of a continuous tale that is magical and motivated. Have I been too analytical, my dear reader? I should have tried to explain the complexity, or rather the accumulated complexity as dust becoming concrete, in these pictures. Now I will leave you spellbound on your journey, as I have already been there myself.


Flavio Caroli

(from the catalogue of the exhibition of " Alberto Sughi, visible" held in Milan , in the Appiani Arte Trentadue Gallery, from 8th April to 7th May, 1995)



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