On Painting, Interview with Alberto Sughi (Part IV)
|Theatre of Italy
Biagio Maraldi The most recent retrospective exhibitions of your work have been classified into cycles of paintings. Do you think that this is an appropriate way of organising your activity, your choice of style and the contents of your paintings over the years?
Don't you believe that this type of classification excludes, or at least overshadows, highly significant moments in your artistic career?
Alberto Sughi Yes, I also suspect that this rigid classification into cycles has gradually imprisoned, and divided into separate cages, the chapters of a harmonious career.
This method was followed in the cataloguing and presentation of the exhibition Il Gioco dell'Apparenza (The game of appearance), held at Castel Sant'Angelo in 1986. In fact, the classification into cycles is perhaps due to the importance that some digressions in my work have acquired over the years.
The first, documented only by a few catalogues (who knows where the paintings are by now), was entitled Nascita e morte di una vocazione (Birth and death of a vocation). It was an attempt to present a metaphor, through ten paintings set up as a cinematographic sequence. The cycle was exhibited at the "Barcaccia" in Montecatini in 1969.
The second cycle refers more particularly to an artistic expression or style. This gave a sense of unity to a sequence of works from 1976, entitled La Cena (The Supper). It is the period that is farthest removed from my natural way of painting, and where I intentionally attempt to remove the hallmarks of my work.The third cycle consists of a group of paintings from 1981, grouped together and entitled Immaginazione e memoria della famiglia (Imagination and memory of the family). It is the only time I have used the methods of story writing in my work. It is a kind of psychological and anthropological reconstruction of internalised and remembered events .
AS Yes, we can go back to this later, but, to complete the picture, I would like to mention the retrospective exhibition held at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, in April 1988, where a more rigidly chronological criterion was followed. I think that this approach illustrates my career more appropriately than the distortions resulting from a strict separation into cycles.
Some people wish to identify two trends in my work, if not a genuine thematic dichotomy: the first is more concerned with Man's existential condition, and relates to individual problems; the second, more externalised, is linked to the "social" dimension, and therefore more involved in political and social issues.
I believe that the exhibition in Ferrara, more than underlining the differences, has highlighted the connection between these aspects of my work. From Le strisce pedonali (The pedestrian crossing), 1958, to Scalinata sul Lungotevere (Stairway on the Lungotevere), 1959, from Classe dirigente, 1965, to Giochi nel giardino (Games in the garden), 1972, to Teatro d'Italia in 1984, we can reconstruct my attempts to capture an image of our identity, whether hidden in dark corners or under the spotlights.
BM Since I believe that there is always a relationship between the title and the work, I would like to ask you: why Teatro d'Italia?
AS The title so often becomes an important component of a work that it is difficult to imagine the work without it.
In the specific case of Teatro d'Italia, the painting expresses my constant concern with the "theatre" in which we are all involved as actors and spectators. It is the third time, in fact, that works that I consider fundamental examples of my art have similar titles: Rappresentare l'Italia (Representing Italy) (1958), Giardino d'Italia ( Garden of Italy) (1971), and finally this Teatro d'Italia (1984).
At the moment I am contemplating working on a large painting, for which I now have little more than the title: Piano Bar Italia.
It may be that, although hidden among the folds of bitterness, anxiety and even irony, this reference really shows my deep love for my country.It also refers to the painter's desire to represent a more general situation.
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