CRITICAL TEXTS BY: TIZIANA TOMMEI, NICOLA MICIELI, ENRICO MATTEI, GIOVANNI BOVECCHI, ALBA ROMANO PACE, LUCIANO CAVALLARO, FRANCO SUMBERAZ, FRANCESCO MUTTI
There is nothing immediate in the work of Massimiliano Luchetti. There is no stasis or quiet haven where one can dock. If you are in front of one of his canvas you can not hide yourself and you quickly understand that running away would not save you. A slow and reflective technique, made of subsequent layers, superimposed layers, abrasions and subtractions, which is the ideal medium for entering in one dimension, that one of the painting, that is able to reflect on its ability and enact truths stronger than common. Knights, shipwrecks, islands, forts, unexplored lands, worlds that belong to a remote past, undefined. Subjects who lose consistency, fade away and appear as phantasmic attendances, suspended in the void. The world that Luchetti constructs and deconstructs on the canvas has not sharp edges and outlined shapes because it does not represent a dreaming dimension where our dreams are more real than reality and almost tangible. He shapes the mental process itself. Through his work he creates a transition zone, a limbo. Not to otherworldly places but palpable reality which have their own specific weight, occupying an area of development that invades the space. His paintings are carnal souls with their own life and at the same time with a concrete, real and visible physicalness. This is proved by the noise of the canvas unfolded on the surface of the floor and the strong smell of the paint. But first of all is the unsaid, the hidden and what changes with time and space that make them beings in their own right of living. They absorb the content in a whirlwind of sensations to metabolize slowly. They accompany in a total experience - just observe them for trying something new, unique, non-trivial, which leads beyond the pure vision. The painter does not return what he sees and his works do not derive from a kind of abandonment of the senses in front of the real. On the contrary, they are steps of a inner process, purely mental and cerebral. They cause a sense of vertigo, and appear as visions that transcend the hic et nunc, carrying into the unknown. They do not give certainties or fixed points to whom appeal. They enact shadows of figures and objects taken from the figurative vocabulary of the artist, that in the more recent works proceed inexorably towards abstraction, expressing themselves as projections of a real world reflected as pure fiction.
A painting on a panoramic screen and in extension on suspended visions,
the prefigured mysteries of the immanent metaphysics of Massimiliano Luchetti
thickening brown and indistinct swarming of appearances on the horizon, barbarian horde outpost or mercenary station. So they appear to me and this is how I understand without plausible reason, if not their unqualified identity - even if we talk about the army, without any connotation, the title of the painting of Massimiliano Luchetti on which I pose absorbed in reflection. It is a crowd of onlookers bristling with fixed pikes and flags, only sharped vectors are as possible prosthesis predisposed to injury, in the orchestrated scene with a Turner bombard of pictorial signs, each one lightly, in a chromatic variation from burnt sienna to purple to red and yellow, in the grand atmospheric event of the sunrise or sunset which represent the romantic feeling of the sublime in nature. I call the crowd a concourse of onlookers that Luchetti summons and gathers on the canvas. In fact I do not know if they are warriors waiting to get into the action, or on the move to fight and in this case the haze that exchanges them into a suspected mass is simply the dust they have raised. It is likely that the procession of figures has been designed to inhabit the threshold, that the painter caught them out between the being and the dying out. They are not ectoplasms or creatures of the dream, who would vanish with the interruption of the media contact or the awakening, but certainly in the realm of the paranormal and visionary dreamer they could easily drain away, if only the painter distorts the optics on the trail of Turner, Böcklin, Redon, to speak about simbolic connections where Luchetti could easily be placed, to a further choice of a slip of pictorial and figurative language. Meanwhile his bystanders, and any other minimal presence, but still made with a complete corporeality surely presented in a Lilliputian manner by the vastness of the landscape, show themselves as anticipations, a kind of standard-bearers of future people, stories arranged for them and possible events until the completion of their destinies. All is described in potential, then about to happen, in a whitening atmosphere the chromatic temperature and the climate hour, or by adopting the complementary hypothesis that reverses the path, everything has been consumed in the story, and it is precisely to annihilate with the flaming lights of the sunset, perhaps to regenerate into a new power. Because of the suspended climate of this view, we cannot avoid thinking of the fateful event, feared and longed, for which with expectation the soldiers’ lives are assigned to the fortress of the Deserto dei Tartari by Buzzati, and that Alba Romano Pace stared, referring to the iterated, always intense waiting climates of Massimiliano Luchetti's paintings with an inimitable verbal image: the imminent unknown. In this sense, these embryonic figures, manifesting themselves both in nuce to presence and life, as larval creatures or evidence of things and situations, they maintain an unsolvable ambivalence as, in terms of equal and contrary they seem to announce the absence and death. The backlight that reveals the hairy formation of the army, and their presumed horses and the visible arms and perhaps the military, it spreads a glow that becomes grey up till the irregular terrain of the proscenium. With the warriors arranged along a front which crosses from one side to the other and frames, dissolving to the margins, the backlight locates the ridge of the immense plateau, in one with the horizon that otherwise we would not detect. The limen, even vague and mobile of the horizon, would be absorbed and perhaps entirely dissolved, if there was no reverberation of the shade in the lighting discoloration of the view. There would not be any spatial reference, just an idea of a walkable distance in some way, an extension due to the range of our gaze that takes in wonder at the spectacular appearance, the insinuation in the soul of a suspect, a vague uneasiness if not an alarm. It is hard not to feel some latency, not to foreshadow a disturbing event, in this visionary opening already excessive because of the perceptible vastness, even more for the limitless generated by the imagination, that loves travelling underground or aerial, however in other dimensions and parallel. It sounds like the prelude to a Leopardi shipwreck in the infinity. Beyond the threshold of the hedge on the hill of Recanati, boundless spaces, superhuman silences and deepest quiet, hatch to the sail of the lonely poet. That is to say, the thin and imperturbable dimension of the human being. The hedge is required curtain to distract the senses and the mind from the noise of time and mundane contingency, until the rustling of the wind among the branches does not call them back to the hic et nunc, at the present season, but is consulated with the memory of time. In the vision of the painter the kidnapping and the drift are accomplished in a certain space indefinitely and dissolving, though saturated with finely kneaded matter which settles touch to touch, fiber to fiber, veil to veil, weaving it into a score of tonal consultation, in which we just note the minute presences, and a widespread vibrato soaked of unknown senses, as a fire that burns slowly and without flame, filtering from the deepest part a reflection not striking of inner turmoil of the spirit. Travelling in the micro-orography and in the stratification of the painting, the probe of our imaginary gaze crosses the fleshly substance of the experience, so the image of the Army here investigated, and each other registered by Luchetti in the catalogue of his not “naïve” but intuitive visions, appears as a page of an intimate diary, the memory of a feeling and an emotion experienced in the presence of nature, so dense and meaningful to change in an aesthetic contemplation and existential reflection. Here, a thickness of lived experience, an existential vibration, in fact, distinguishes the visions of Luchetti from each other, an evocation romantic and symbolic of the human journey in the indeterminate and grandiose of nature. That fervent sediment of living matter leads us to consider its waiting climates of the events as a kind of interrogation of the mystery, a kind of immanent metaphysics, the look and emotion to the wellspring of the acts that will make up the chain of the biological and cultural history of man.
Massimiliano Luchetti is not a dreamer. Not at all. His feet are firmly planted on the ground and his watchful gaze, searches the room with patience as he reflects on his every movements. On his every word. No, Luchetti is not a dreamer! He does not long for distant and pleasant worlds. He does not tell of a bucolic countryside warmed by the sun. Or sylvan forests languidly asleep under clear painted skies, here and there, with few clouds rocked by the wind. No, Luchetti is not a dreamer. Not in the usual sense, at least. It is the smell of turpentine that shakes us. It wakes us up. To remind us. Intense and direct, it winds through our nostrils, touching our palate, evoking forgotten reasons. The pervasive feeling of the painting. Of the colours mixed one to another. Of the canvas rolled up on itself: “How long does it take, really? Before you get back to your original form ...”. Phenomenon, unique and rare at the same time, anti-historical or obsolete for many, recovers to mind the memory of the studio, and it stands up for its size. Important and legitimate - but it could not be otherwise. Physical presences that invite us to embark on a journey, that of course, has little or nothing to do with the dream. Dropped the anchors, resting armies waiting for orders, through the mists of vast plains and fallen towers, wise old men or old vestal, point the way shrouded in the mist of the sea, in the mist of the wilds. Atmospheres of a hidden Turner, or of that great illustrator who was Cor Blok. The traveller Luchetti observes and drafts, notes and elaborates: portolans and battles, armies and fleets at anchor, defeated by time, by the elements, from hold. Maybe. But still travelling. Strictly oil paint, difficult and slow as it should be – it tells of worlds and afterworlds land, lived beyond the gate, drawing less on dream instead of what you might think. The journey, wonderfully a classic theme, it is real and tangible. Although it is lost in the fog that surrounds the memory as well as the future. Sepulchres of what has been and of what still it has to be, Luchetti has those places well etched in his eyes. And he paints those carefully, leaving no escape to his imagination. Because there is nothing in those paintings, he has not experienced first hand. Apart from that, the journey is just at the beginning.
Journey towards immortality
The search of Massimiliano Luchetti encloses a romantic vision of art, from paintings of romanticism as an expression of a feeling that turns and gets free from the previous rules to search for new sources of inspiration, through a perspective of sensible subjectivism. This individualism leads first to translate moods, inner feelings: passion, strength, terror, taste of mystery and above all of tragic, and love ever-renewed toward a multi-faceted living nature, creating wonder, fear, dizziness.
The conception of the work in our artist comes from this romantic vision-idea that is realized even slightly on the formal aspect of the canvases. The landscape of Luchetti reminds the inner vision of a painting by William Turner that was born from the imagination understood as invention, the figures that are often represented by our artist as silhouettes with very little references of race or age, indicate that concern for the infinite, for the relations of the ego with nature typical of the romantic vision of Caspar David Friedrich who loved to put some characters seen from the back in front of sweeping and poignant landscapes. Without seeing the eyes of these figures, that we frequently find in this emotional space of Luchetti’s painting, we are intimately aware of the gaze of this mysterious character because he is at the same time, his vision and that one of the painter that becomes ours.
Another feature of his art-making is the particular conception of painting that permeates the main direction of this poetic art; on one side painting is firstly for the artist the feeling of grasping in a present moment the synthesis of things and secondly, the urgent desire to find eternity in what is ephemeral, survival in what is fleeting.
The picture, then, is no longer the recording of an event lived in its concreteness and materiality but it records scenes that are almost immaterial, smooth shades that blend into the general harmony, and that is how the scenes represented by Massimiliano Luchetti are crossed by an indeterminacy of optical and bright tones, with the intention, on one hand to make the vibration of the light, and on the other one to bring out not only the density but the lightness and the evanescent character of things.
A sensualism whose unit of style is based on personal intuition and objective predilection excluding doctrinal precepts. External reality loses its coercive power and is able to offer endless possibilities of imagination. This situation becomes for the artist, a kind of inexhaustible musical keyboard, the reason to follow your heart, where he is free to improvise. The correspondence in the canvases recovering between painting, literature, music, colours, words and sounds allows the artist to translate the sensations perceived by the individual, in this way, the musician and the poet seem to “paint” what they feel and the painter suggests the “music of the things”.
The artist thinks of the end of the objects that have brought them to the “death”. And this time he thinks about this in a straightforward manner. “Death is an extraordinary subject, the only one that has the same weight of life. If you want to talk about life you have to think before to death”, said Maurizio Cattelan. The human beings are perhaps the only creatures intimately aware of the fact that we have to die, even when death is not imminent, and this makes Luchetti think of creation as an implementation that becomes the beginning of the death of the planning idea that disclosing, takes shape and becomes a work of art, it begins its autonomous process, a new life, rebirth and consecration in a sort of immortality obtained with a timeless painting, where its imaginary visions bring to life objective references that are confused and lost in the infinite space of his canvases. Art is also this, the craftsmanship that prolongs the existence in opposition to the diffuse commercialization, we will die, but maybe art will remain.
Memoirs of the invisible
The painting of Massimiliano Luchetti is obsessive, fearful and anxiety-inducing, beautiful and corrupt, pure and cursed. Unpredictable, as death or birth of life. A world with few references to the real, or better, a real world now projected to alien points of no return, hovering over dead lines mysteriously attractive. An elegant painting with a continuous harvest of delirious but gentle emotions, sweet, that close and drive into deep ancestral visions, along intimate anxieties but also close to the last hopes, to the most extreme escape routes, the fastest, to scenarios with no time, place and memory, where everything remains forever as an everlasting love that nothing or no one can violate.
In the pictures of Luchetti nature is always impressive and maintains a strict linguistic naivety complicated by a sophisticated pictorial and emotional expressiveness as if he were speaking two souls: that of a child who dreams of lost memories and that of the poet - warrior - pirate always on the run in search of spiritual treasures, a stillness, beyond every apocalypse. He is a very consistent artist with a very personal style: his pictorial works possess a strong common denominator that make him recognizable even in the variety of the subjects represented and the evolution of his pictorial technique. It is very difficult to find instances of such a persistent consistency when it comes to painting the impending, a painting of existential disorientation; aspects that refer to the mysterium fascinans et tremendum of the Romantic painting. The gloomy modernity that denounces that any progress has been useless, acts in the poesis of Maximilian. A wing of supreme mysticism is found in this amazing artist who paints driven by an inner indispensable necessity of poetry and escape, looking for parallel spaces where each element becomes ritual, symbol, a sacred door, ecstasy, light or deep night, island or enchanted castle, fortress or infinite sea where only a distant remote vessel is the last salvation, silent battles or cemeteries of wrecks in still and disturbing waters, women who wander into spaces of dream, perhaps lovers running towards an extreme cliff, who bravely crossed the threshold of the eternal resurrection of love or even the symbolic implication and exorcising the loss or absence of a mother figure.
Here the native elements of the paintings, the visible/invisible subjects, rising to the metaphysical codes, even to actual interpretations of a reality/non-reality gradually more and more into decay, in a painting that from the plastic and rough material of the first period goes gradually to a thin and intangible material, that sinks into the texture of the canvas: the slow deflagration is such that now only the thin membrane of invisibility has replaced the dense gravity of a falling material, torn by time. In a certain way it goes back to a primary and absolute need, all of the post- romantic matrix: that one of dying physically in the material itself of creation, by dissolving it in a single creative act as for each “cursed poet” only the subjective creatum is life, the only condition of rebirth.
We can therefore define Massimiliano Luchetti as a dreamlike, surreal, metaphysical poet. An utopian artist? A visionary borderline?
An artist who reverses the roles of the relation between figuration and abstraction, where the representation itself becomes element of support, the real substance of the cosmic apocalypse? In his first liminal visions already appeared, such as a metaphor of the beyond, the symbols of a life in balance between light and shadow: small figures on the edge of a promontory dominated by dark and imaginary skies; dark silhouettes of old sailing ships that ply the impenetrable seas to the limit of the disturbing horizon, mysterious forests where a drape of red cloth breaks chromatically with an anxious and awful background, with no exit, lonely mansions on the edge of the hill that recall the atmosphere of fairy tales and fears of childhood, trees marked by vortices of wind supine to the majesty of the force of nature; ghost knights who suddenly appear just like in a dream at the peak of a mountain, impermanent, surreal; souls who would like to go through, along with the people they loved, in advance, of the circle of life. Figurations which progressively lose or isolate themselves more in supramundane areas, almost limbic or prenatal. A branched and reminiscent figuration that exponentially increases the degree of intensity of abstraction under a habitat and not a figurative “hit”, subjected to the abstractionist perturbation.
A poetic and disorienting environment where something otherworldly is going to happen and where precisely the fact of nature, reality, is the element, the medium, necessary. A painting faraway from the aesthetic not being useful to the artist the search for a specific “sweetener effect” on the viewer, on the contrary a painting seemingly random, in some ways not “refined” and certainly not chasing the scenic outcry or winking at a some affectation that you would want in the observer. A weltanshauung close to the nihilism that does not deny at all the feeling. Some “brightness” expressiveness are the proof, that are not foreign to the obscure poetic of Luchetti, for which the canvas is always the last sacred altar where all his works will become the liturgy of the transubstantial and ultimate sacrifice.
ALBA ROMANO PACE
«Plus encore que la vie
La mort nous tient souvent par des liens subtils»
Charles Baudelaire- Les Fleurs du mal
Frayed with finishing touches of color, scattering pigments of matter ,Baudelaire’s “subtle bonds” that man entwines with death are outlined enigmatically in Massimiliano Luchetti’s paintings. In the tradition of Odilon Redon, the main exponent of psychological symbolism, Massimiliano Luchetti creates his own crepuscular and nocturne universe in which we feel Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, Rimbaud’s ‘damned verses” Of a “Season in Hell” and Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du Mal”. Some of his works are painted in a naïve style, above all in his backgrounds which become intense with out-of-focus hues or full-bodied strokes. Luchetti’s painting tell a fairy-tale, imbued with shadow and mystery. His characters take the observer into the depths of an unknown dimension where dream and reality blend in the undertaking of being, of existing. “Beauty will be convulsive or it will not be” wrote Andre’ Breton,founder of surrealism, speaking of mans unconscious attraction in discovering beauty in what he fears and the elation in waiting for a perturbing event; we can define Luchetti’s pictures suspended tales. His characters are souls seeking adventure, dialoging continuously with the hereafter. In his painting “Ouverture” they are not bodies but ghosts, insubstantial figures, transparent beings appearing out of the water. The long and rettangular shape of the canvas accompanies the voyage of a small vessel towards the unknown, slow and light as Caronte’s vessel that carried the souls of the dead on the Stige, the river of the underworld. The boat in the painting is black, immaterial and incorporeal are the outlines of the driver and his passenger. Captains of phantom vessels in the mercy of the waves, wandering cavaliers, blue and red shadows; red is of special value for Luchetti, the symbol of fire and blood, red the color of life. A red ribbon tied to the skeleton of a tree indicates the crossing of a human being in a desolate place. A little girls red hair in a forest of souls identifies her as the the only human being, besieged by a dance of possessed shadows. In Luchetti’s paintings every color has a role: red shouts, blue electrifies, a soft and fluorescent pink or a metallic grey, in a metaphysical dimension. A pink house or a silver field reveal the existence of another interior world ,foretold by a strange wind ,in almost all of his compositions, which disarrange the characters features and the objects outlines. Images thus become momentary visions, fading mirages ready to become immaterial ,that the artist for an instant blocks on the canvas, saving their movement and stasis, leaving the observer with the inebriating convulsive beauty of an imminent unknown.
The Greek word PHANEIN means the human mind's ability to freely interpret the facts of experience or to represent its own images into sensible images. (It is also the root of the word fantasy). In other words this means that the intellect, through the processing of many symbolic languages, provides the appropriate reality decoding (reads phenomenon) that could lie over reality itself.
These symbolic descriptions, whether literary or poetic, scientific, musical or figurative, are always the result of calibrated selective choices in which discontinuity excels, with a connotative role, created by analogical distinctive signs.
It is acknowledged that nature does not systematically reproduce. This has produced, from the origin of language, the idea of art, first as a mere intellectual exercise and then as a "visible manifestation of the invisible", which could lead to the symbolic elaboration of matter.
Today it is truly universally acknowledged that mind and matter are not disjointed, it is an acquired fact that informs the workability of man, as well his creation of cognitive schemes which aim for the decoding of the cosmos: sometimes fully shared while at other times in undisclosed formal proposals.
Although Luchetti knows of the irreplaceably of the grammatical rules that underlie any particular language, even if he represents rarefied atmospheres that seem to engulf any perceptional reference, he always leads the viewer on the semantic level, through skillful strokes of colours.
The painting of this young artist is represented in a close dialectical relationship between matter, essential process to perception, and the hidden structure in which the matter conforms itself, creating endless significant relations.
Thus, thick strokes of colour mimic the stormy sea motion, and there, the bow of a vessel seems to point out at the menace of the sky as if it were the same sea, arousing with increased noise.
But for Luchetti the word PHANEIN can also express peace, inspiring the perspective distance. In his "Islands", where everything is sublimated and full of promise (and warnings), as in the Aleph of Borges and also in the astonished and amazed eyes of small figures who contemplate the sublime from high rocks as in a Dante's vision. Therefore, as a consequence of the foregoing comments, it is appropriate to emphasize the fact that Luchetti wants us to reflect on the changing and magnitude of the creation, created by a mysterious ordering intelligence to our perceptions, almost the same as the God the Father in the bible who recalls in all his variations, the awareness of the poor Job.
Descent to infinity
To be honest and candid observers of painting, abandoning a critical role and avoiding rhetorical words that often are satiated by their own weight in wanting to show the emptiness of lost values and to observe with eyes of the soul. The gesture, the act in itself is the main introduction in finding ones way into Luchetti’s pictorial world. When doors of perception open everything appears as it really are: infinite. William Blake, the prophet, indicates a visionary path that Luchetti follows in his work in a previous cycle. The representation and the condition of death ,the descent into hell, a heaven often populated with cruciformed symbols, black horses, hearses of skeletal vessels in a storm, dark bituminous tonalities, bare solitary trees, larvae of man lost in dilated landscapes, a dismaying solitude…: a necessary passage for a tormented soul in search of a voice, of a light, of a ray of truth. In his latest works in this temporal dimension every answer is denied except for a clear daily creative perception. They search for the untouchable and mysterious fogs only to find the presence of dantesque ectoplasms that are painted in a new informal life that moves its first steps in the direction of the future, an inevitable, certain, anthromorphic image: “man”.