To Back(Stage) Or Not To Back(Stage)

When processes and outcomes are one

by Gianluca Marziani

We see it, on the wall of a gallery or museum, indoors or outdoors, in or on a monitor screen, hanging, suspended or resting … to us the work of art always appears as a finished project. Ultimately, we see the end result and (almost) never behind the scenes, with executive backstage passes to witness the time between conception and design. Admittedly, in recent decades, the growth of technological tools has increased the fever pitch for knowledge of artistic creation. Now you want to enter the “question mark” behind the talent, to go backstage to the inner world of the artist, into the mysterious world of private stories. A media voyeurism raised in close relationship with the digital culture; it was always assumed that popular backstage access would shatter the parameters between art and its viewer. If we think about the origins of “hero worship” and the new laws of desire, it is normal that the public is not satisfied with just the result (the final work, similar to a movie seen in the theater or a novel read in the library) but searches for the background, a taste of “real reality” that quenches the hunger and thirst for informative gossip.

In the chaos of new media, hope becomes a plausible reality: that visual art retains its confidentiality, the right distance remains between the viewer and icon, a one-act play that is enhanced by its resultant exposition. Being the only language that creates images through symbols means its mystery must always be retained, without losing touch with reality but being aware of the rhythms, codes and styles of each individual presence. Art must deal with actuality and stay out of the melee, a step away from the collective virus, but never joining the fray. Otherwise it would lose its metaphorical and allegorical strength, its analytical conscience that in investigating facts develops clairvoyance.

If we talk about Italian art, in a view that from the 14thcentury Umbria has led us to today’s young talents, it is clear that the process behind the work (backstage language) is a measure of our representation. The iconographic canons utilize complex construction as the main processing method. A peculiarity crossing both art masters and avant-garde, characterizing Italian art as a learning method, the figurative tie that binds, link in the chain, for its compositional balance that stratifies without burdening the result.

DANILO BUCCHI works in a progressive dimension of time that coincides with the action of a syringe filled with ink. From a solid line, a style of writing over post-informal Wols automatic codes, the artist has replaced the brush with a syringe that calibrates the casting with a progressive rhythm. Hence came the idea that the framework’s construction is a more complex mechanism than its own result. Thus the performance was born in which Bucchi, following an electronic sound, created the painting in front of a camera filming sign after sign, like a building that grows brick by brick. The result was also the wall of the Palazzo Collicola Visual Arts where he amplified surfaces and expanded their intimate nature. All his paintings, even those with canonical techniques, are linked ideally by a natural diary, as though his papers and canvas are strung together like daily diary pages between real life and his inner world. We do not see, but perceive, the elaborative phases, the natural juxtapositions, a manual modularity that replicates without copying. It is in the complexity of the process that the figure takes shape as the ink dries.

In confirmation of a natural living process to synthesize results, Bucchi has collaborated with designer ANTONIO MARRAS for a recent exhibition in Spoleto in the rooms on the main floor of Palazzo Collicola Visual Arts. From a long backstaged work documented in a black and white photographic catalog, it follows their combined successful crossing of personality on paper and canvas. Bucchi has structured the perimeters of the image, the physiognomic foundation that Marras has “dressed” with colors, fabrics and collage. To do so, the two met several times between Rome and Alghero, combining without overlapping their personalities in a dynamic equilibrium between process and foundation. It was the only way to leave the centrality of artistic language, without the fashion absorbing the iconographic structure. In this way, the “dress” is returned to its sculptural essence, its primordial design, to the material roots with which everything was born.

CRISTIANO PINTALDI is another example of how many procedural stages there are behind a painting. The artist has invented a language system that is based on pixel structure, the same that modulates television images according to scientific relationships between location and percentage of color. Each painting is the result of overlapping phases in which any error becomes categorically excluded, the penalty being destruction of the painting. The artist seems to merge the concentration of a zen monk with the fanatical operations of a goldsmith. His painting requires a slow process, also documented by photographs in which the studio is transformed into a laboratory of art and science. He triumphs in the discipline of governing the backstage; the combination of “crazy genius” which is presently rarely found among even the most mature and innovative artists.

This complex construction is the same in all visual languages, including photography in its many forms. Here, too, the Italian value shows a methodical structural work that involves pictorial tension and sculptural volume, locking in the value of its final summation. MATTEO BASILE’ confirms this through an evident maturity: the landscapes take on a Renaissance-style; body types mix historical past with a defiled present; costumes add a narrative and conceptual research on color; postures respond to a series of sculptural archetypes. The trip, in short, is the synthesis of a long process behind the single photograph: and the backstage becomes a photographic page in the books created by the artist.

CARLO D’ORTA adds something significant to his photographs: three-dimensional inserts that follow the compositional elements of the image, inventing a double sculpture recreated in a plastic sense. Sheets of Plexiglas, developed in 1:1 scale to the objects in the photo, are installed in front of the print, thus emphasizing and becoming the heart and soul of not only the object but every narrative photorealist. Not since the days of Ugo Mulas and Gianfranco Chiavacci has a similar link between linguistic concept and language been seen.

FABRIZIO CAMPANELLA has conceptualized a total processuality around a piece of art. Always starting with a finished work, he follows a painting’s geometric tensions, using a single pictorial theme as a module in progress. From here the development takes the form of wallpaper, sculpture, video and architectural space, creating a living processuality around the pure geometric element, creating a feeling that a futurist has been catapulted into our millennium. His backstage turns into a live action, sequential, a driving force which gives us both the fire and the fuel that feeds it.

VINCENZO PENNACCHI also develops processuality around a single framework. His work begins in a sculptural manner, spatially creating systems of ever-expanding pallets of color; interacting with the natural materials from which all life is born; photographed as though rhythmically removing veils of secrecy from a historical former church. It is the life of the picture, simultaneously complex by nature and tarnished, living in harmony with the linguistic keys, and proof of how many solutions exist around the known languages and the main themes of depiction.


Gianluca Marziani is a Columnist for the Italian Journal.