On Painting, Interview with Alberto Sughi (Part II)

Theatre of Italy   flash
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII

Biagio Maraldi In the past, the relationship between art and ideology was a great subject of debate in Italy. What kind of feelings do you now have about that period?

Alberto Sughi Years pass, people settle down, and only the quality of a work of art remains as a really useful point of reference. So I give little importance to declarations of ideological commitment, or detachment, which really determined part of the negative attitude towards our work in those days.

I don't know whether critics today are more reliable. However, I believe that we can probably foresee that tomorrow many critical judgements will count for less, just as much of the painting in favour today will soon be forgotten.

As far as loneliness is concerned, artists are generally resigned to this condition, so it cannot be viewed as unusual, or be seen as a reason for frustration.

BM Can we trace the history of your artistic education? On other occasions you have mentioned some influences………

AS The various influences in my work have suffered a process of sedimentation over time, so that I now find it difficult to pin down what has had the greatest influence on my work.

As a painter, you are under no obligation to be faithful to, or to religiously respect, the work of other artists. You simply capture something within it that serves to enhance your own original expression.

BM Your art has, naturally, undergone changes and variations over the years, as we have already said. I don't believe that you have ever been part of the "Abstract" or "Informal" schools of painting. Was this choice ideological, or was it a question of your art, poetics and style?

AS If you look carefully at my work, as some already have, you will see that I have observed and absorbed many elements from Abstract and Informal art, and that my work does contain traces and references to prove it. Working within a cultural climate that emphasised the importance of these elements, it seems entirely natural to me that I would become interested in them, even if I cannot claim to have had any real involvement.

On the other hand, one has to remember that the Abstract movement did not set out to be a trend in contemporary art. It intended, above all, to express a revolutionary and fascinating aesthetic theory: art, free from every moral, illustrative or didactic constraint, would finally be able to disclose its vital essence. No longer obliged to represent the world, but only to reflect itself, painting could finally champion the cause of "Art for art's sake".

Many artists expected to achieve new purity, a beauty never previously attained. But this theory seems to be part of the many illusions nurtured by a blind faith in progress that permeated every walk of life at the beginning of our century.

The suspicion, at least a suspicion, that this might not be true, prevented me from embracing this vision.

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