The fullness of desire
by Giordano Bruno Guerri
The Andrea Chisesi’s art studio in Siracusa is a late 19th century ancient hotel remodeled in the fascist period and today – remember Sebastian’s house, in Blade runner? – place of inspiration. The walls of the ground floor had been covered with wallpaper of the time and hid old newspapers from the 1920s on the back, relics that the artist began to tear, paste, put on the canvases, shreds of resurrected and recreated chronicles: now even for tell the inimitable life of Gabriele d’Annunzio in the “Tempora Vatis” Collection. To those ancient sheets of newspapers are added famous photographs of the most significant moments of Commander’s life and the Matrem, white brushstrokes that refer to nature and its symbolic synthesis, flowers, leaves, water drips. Forerunner in almost everything, a lover of what others call “excesses” and luxury, D’Annunzio is represented by Chisesi in the fullness of desire and voluptuousness, raising him – as Gabriele would have liked – to the sublime feeling of omnipotence. There is no space for bigotry, there is no way out for respectability made of appearances.
The one represented, is the reality of a world made up of pleasure and conquest, of truth and lie through poetry, the only elixir of seduction. In perfect horror vacui style, the exhibition unfolds through sketches, drawings and works on canvas, offering the dialogue between the artist and the Commander in an intimate journey that I wanted at Villa Mirabella, where the Commander accommodated important guests.
The visitor becomes a protagonist who is introduced into a timeless space and, as a curious guest, tries to steal the secrets of the poet and the painter, of their mysterious (certainly complicated) relationships. With the meticulousness of a biographer, Chisesi divided the exhibition into four main parts, in a way, with the 68 works arranged on the walls clockwise and in apparent chaos: Fons: the portraits of the poet from adolescence to 1920; Aestas: heroes, myths and characters dear to him, passions for ships, planes, cars; Arbores: women, allegory of the Faun, myths and passions from Dante to Michelangelo; Hiems: the portraits of his closest friends and the icons that accompanied him, including San Sebastiano, Santa Caterina da Siena and San Francesco.
The atmosphere of Chisesi’s cards – which you would say decadent, but it isn’t, like the essence of d’Annunzio wasn’t – is linked to the subjects of the feminine ideal, of great enterprises and of the Commander’s passions. Without ever transcending into the didactic narrative, the works reveal frames of life, hidden so as never to be revealed, even those of the “secret room”, in the exhibition itinerary, which contains love rituals hidden behind small wooden doors, delightfully detectable only from the keyhole.
Chisesi’s tribute to the panic vitalism and the triumph of nature is represented by the use of brocades, of the Matrem who are transferred to the works with the technique of “fusion” – the stratification process of newspapers, painting and plaster of Bologna – which reveals from last an image never hidden or reworked. The reference to the Renaissance art of the “Relative” of the Vate, the divine Michelangelo, completes the collection of sculptures, stones of memory, which lodge the Vittoriale, custodians of perpetual beauty, such as L’Aurora which surmounts its last bed, that of death.
Thus the Imaginifico narrated by Chisesi permeates all the works like a silent poem, a language of signs that dance in the musicality so loved by d’Annunzio.
The Flow of time
by Giuseppe Stagnitta
Time inevitably flows … Nothing and nothing ends. Everything is transformed. The artist Andrea Chisesi with his project Street Home try to stop time with the magic of art, saving moments of authentic metropolitan life that runs through the streets of the city and leads to study, tearing them away from their deterioration.
The artist’s creative process takes shape precisely in its initial phase, that is, in that of the observation of the city, of the experience of places, of entering history through the analysis of its walls that tell it. Layers on layers, accumulated day by day, reveal themselves as witnesses of a past still alive. Collection of testimonies in search of the oldest and most significant layers, freezing moments, fragments destined to be eroded by the flow of life. Accumulate moments, layers on layers of paper to assemble them on canvases and protect them from erosion of time. It is a fusion of moments that meet for the first time on the canvas and begin to communicate with each other to become “other”. Pieces of posters torn from the city walls, graffiti, photos of walls taken by the same artist to stop moments, all assembled on the canvas. Different pieces of life that merge to become something else … Photos impressed on the posters to emancipate them from their initial story.
The flow of time transforms things does not destroy them. Time as a construction. What is the time? Is the objective time different from the psychological time? Psychological time is based on the distinction “past-present-future”, that is, in the experience of the changes taking place, one after the other, in a linear flowing time, for which it has its physical base in the neuronal activity of the brain in sync with the changes in the alternation of darkness and light, for which the body is immersed in the solar system. Man has no knowledge of the difference between psychological time and mathematical time and his way of understanding the universe will take place through a linear inner time, although this time does not exist. According to Bergson, our usual way of conceiving time, as a succession of instants of the same duration, based on the movement of the hands of the clock, is the fruit of an operation of the intellect, which “spatializes” time, ie conceives as a physical body and divides it into equal segments. At this time of physics, Bergson contrasts an inner, continuous, indivisible and unrepeatable time, which is that of our conscience, in which the various moments interpenetrate one another without a solution of continuity.
Everything is constantly moving. Birth, death, life! Art lived as overcoming the anguish of death. Trying to dominate death, the illusion of giving it an image, a purpose, of attributing to it a function. All the arts, from painting to storytelling, from sculpture to dance, have deep roots, and an origin, precisely in the evolution of our species. Art replaces instinct as a guide and does so by creating imaginary worlds and new alternative realities. Art as a need to survive and overcome their own ghosts? After all no one believes in his own death and everyone is unconsciously convinced of his own immortality, writes Freud, death is an imperative appointment for everyone. Trying to administer death is not in the direction of quality of life, it is in the phantom of mastery. Street home is the attempt to freeze the story of the city that self-tells to save it from his death. Project in which the artist tells the cities, where he tries to keep them from their deterioration with his work. Fighting the inevitable trace of time is its main goal. Reassembling the city bringing a living, traces and authentic testimonies on his paintings is his poetics. Andrea, who has breathed the city of Naples for months, plunging it into his heart, inversely to Street Art, takes the city with him in his studio, modifying it through his poetry. The posters worn down by the rains and the sun become textures of his work. The exhibition consists of about 70 works begins with “Partenope”, a mermaid of Greek mythology found at the mouth of the river Sebeto beaten by the song of Orpheus where the Cumans would have founded Neapolis (Naples), elaborated with the technique that the artist defines Matrem , an almost meditative moment in which the artist abandons himself to a state of trance, painting obsessively as a mantra flowers and concentric circles.
Let the mind empty and the hand goes where it wants. For him, the concentric circle represents the time that expands and flows, increasing its circumference with a constant rhythm, like the drop that moves the water, and the flowers represent the birth. It is not a study. It is not a case. It is a middle earth. It’s time to daydream. Holistic aspect, and therefore not only intellective, as a cognitive act that favors that creative path especially in its imaginal, emotional and sensorial component, building the image through stratification, superimposing succession of elements that help it to dig more and more and immerse oneself in the here and now of the creative moment. A layered surface that mixes multiple levels, of color, of shapes, of figures, which reduce recognition and increase the complexity of the visual object. Floating attention, free from thoughts, cognitive modality that Andrea Chisesi prefers to enter into the layers of his imagination, which is not mere memory, but lived !!! A stereotypical, recognizable, apparently decorative imaginary. Decoration that in this case serves only to clear the mind, to help the artist to enter in a floating way in a new layer / layer of the creative process. Go beyond the thought and the apparent thought, through the obsessive repetition, and then finish the work with the print of a shot with which it defines the theme and the subject of the work, as if there were various levels of awareness in its work, a layer I would say unconscious and conscious, one linked to abandonment and the other to thought. Consciousness and consciousness can therefore be seen as part of a continuum, I would use the word awareness to describe my simple perception of the sound of a bird’s song, I would use the word consciousness to indicate the complex of operations by which I recognize the sound like the call of a bird. Continuum of awareness.
Creative Lived in the balance between abandonment and thought, between altered and ordinary state of consciousness. The impression of one of his shots. Another significant work of the exhibition is “la smorfia”, a work composed of 90 paintings, where he tells the numbers in pictures. The Smorfia, in the collective imagination, is closely linked to the city of Naples, for the long affection that has always existed among Neapolitans and the game of the lot. The bringing back numbers to things and objects for greater knowledge and interpretation of reality is a very ancient process. The ninety numbers of Smorfia represented by Chisesi with his technique of fusion between painting, posters, rips and photography are 90 precisely, derive from those of the lot. The heart of the exhibition is precisely the series “street home”, the poster as a witness to the story of a place that is reborn through its shots. Death and rebirth.
A series of works representing the Neapolitan icons par excellence: San Gennaro, Totò, Maradona and interesting moments, anonymous, lived in the streets of the city, children playing, eating, running …. Discovery of the advertising poster as an artistic expression reworked in the studio, adopting the collage of cubists and contaminating it with elements borrowed from a photographic matrix, leaving authentic traces of writings and symbols, such as those that can be read on city walls.
Andrea Chisesi saves fragments of life transforming them into something new, alive. He calls her home street because he tries to recreate the effect of the walls on the canvases. Andrea tells me, for example, the image of Totò that he found on a wall of the city he photographed and that after a few days he no longer finds, “that piece of wall still lives on one of my canvas. It fascinates me to see how much effort the man tries to fight the inevitable trace of time and its deterioration “. Closes the exhibition his work that most represents the city that hosts his personal, a job apparently distant from his way of making art and that according to the artist is the heart of his work on Naples precisely because it represents well his way of imagining it: the “fireworks”. A series of works that are part of a new pictorial journey of the artist, lived with a continuous work of refinement, elaboration and reworking, works never finished and lived in a continuous act on the canvas.
Explosions of concentric colors, reminiscent of his Matrem technique, of a violent time that quickly spreads in an exaggerated explosion of colors, of things, of life. The energy of the ever-expanding universe in search of new balances in the passage of time.
Pittura & fotografia:
fusioni imperfette di Andrea Chisesi
by Jacqueline Ceresoli
Hybridization of painting and photography is not a novelty of the new millennium, but as always, the originality of this fusion of genres depends on the search and sensitivity developed by the artist. For Andrea Chisesi, painting creates the image’s identity, like the photography, by alternating fashion services and portrays, with the same enthusiasm and rigor.
Chisesi is the son of aesthetics and poetry of mixing, collage, techniques and languages of the 80’s, of Transavantgarde; he is pop conceptual, a follower of Warhol, without seeking excessive realism.
For years he has been experimenting new ways, not to represent reality but to suggest it, by inserting in his paintings figures, icons, friends, loves, self-portraits, materials illustrating the experience of everyday life.
Fusion between photography and painting, between reality and imaginary, with various processes of alteration and the inclusion of multiple materials, is a natural search for Andrea, and it could not be otherwise, since he is omnivore of images, devouring art catalogs, exhibitions, daily newspapers, fashion magazines, movies, videos selected in YouTube, seduced by the expressive potentiality of colors and signs.
His photographies, digitally processed, printed on canvas and repainted seem in search of the right body, face, subject to be presented in the wrong place, with altered supports.
He is the son of the pop culture, the modernism avant-garde of the ’80, of the stratifications of the Web era: he is fluctuating like all of us, as we are in the heart of a global media village, where only what is transmitted and that evolves in images exists.
From the beginning Chisesi is seduced by the nude according to Schiele, Kokosca, by the subtile tension blended with the decadence and the aesthetics of the bodies of Klimt, within the Vienna Secession movement, by the anti-classic bodies of Cezanne, Picasso and by the angular figures of Kirchner, but also by the persuasive softness of the lines of Matisse and other avant-gardists of the 20th century.
In his recent works, he goes beyond his early loves and after having experimented more new material supports, he focuses his interest on the background, on the decorative impact of the context which contains the image, then inserting collages of various materials, he realizes the fusion of decollage by superimposing original posters and other materials, taken from street displayboards, blended with other materials as ready-made of our contemporary world.
He has overcome the focus on the figure and concentrates himself on the background, filling the surface with horizontal and vertical signs, draws coordinates, frames, evokes mosaics, transforming the composition in a blend of polychrome pixels which he will define hypothetic frames, perspectives or imaginary grids to enclose his fertile creativity.
His works explores an extra-linguistic realism, which transcribes a personal diary, to illustrate a process of elaboration of the layers of memory, in which he notes portraits of known or unknown faces, first as photos, then sublimated or only product of imagination. They are the fusion of subjects found in some publications, self-timers, situations, experiences, environments, altogether as tracks of living. These and other elements are formal premises to redefine more and more layered and complex transversal dialectic relations between photography and painting.
During his process of décollage, he develops a method of work of free interpretation of the materials that produces images, reaching a total abstraction and an iconoclast refusal of all that was previously assimilated and elaborated. How? In his paradoxal and whirling mandala of great dimensions, circles or targets of a strong visual impact, radically distant from the concept of image, figure and painting, in order to create kaleidoscopic performing explosions of colours in which everything is chaos, becoming and pure energy: the archetypes of creativity.
by Ornella Fazzina Docente di Storia dell’Arte
Accademia Belle Arti di Catania
A way of thinking of Agamben about the darkness that becomes less dense as a result of the capabilities of brightening up of the past that ends up under the shadow of the present, could bind the singular production of Andrea Chisesi that uses old iconographic vocabulary along with signs of grammar of his personal interpretation. A juxtaposition that has become a reflection of the sense of time, along the rough and contemporaneous journey; an analysis of the passage of the traditional idea of time, deep like the linear dimensions of memory, the storage and progression, from the idea of a time completely split, plural, fragmented, outside of history: the postmodern time, the virtual, of global and uncontrolled consumption. An imperfect and transient time from which the relationship between traditional and contemporary art is built.
In this huge container from which to tap, Chisesi picks sculptures and paintings related to the concept of Matrem, from which he rethought and redesigned using photographs of heroes, mythological figures, portraits and sacred representations transposed on a surface covered mostly by flowers, circles and semicircles, as if to suggest the profound and symbolic value of a kind of contemporary mandala.
Eras and styles rotate with other rhythms in his works, from Greek art, touching on some of the main genres, such as the religious art and portraits. This becomes a way of crossing the history of art and its protagonists, to get to modernity and overcoming early religious paintings to a broader range of communicating art. Matrem becomes and goes intensely, as intended, in fact, as a vehicle to document the historical and social facts on the theme of creation in its widest sense which also includes the concept of Mother Earth, the mother country, but also a reflection on art and its languages.
In the procedure along with the intervention and preparation of the works, Chisesi inserts the photo print (a technique he calls “fusion”) and then intervenes again with painting. Overlapping layers of colour that form flower and circles looking to pull out the symbolism of life, death, rebirth, being Matrem a hymn to the natural state of things, universal harmony and beauty. The preparation takes place in a way totally free from mental and formal constraints, and in this improvisation the mandalas, released by the person, that take over, moving like a dance of a carefree hand, after it is with this whom, unexpectedly, establishes an osmotic relationship. Among only apparent dissonances, the photographic prints show rhythmic and formal consonance but found in straight lines and archetypal elemental curves from which everything began; the half circle deep as an individual, two half circles as a couple from which comes the flower, the concentric circles as life cycle from which all this symbolism is generated. From this instinctive process, the precision of photography goes and instead a particular, unexpected and surprising effect is gained, the result of a superposition that invites you to look for associations, juxtapositions, surprises as in the part where the hero Hercules with his physical power contrasts with the delicateness of colours, and even Achilles, Hector as other works, emanate energies that synthesise a flow in artistic creation.
Between history and mythology The Three Graces become examples of how a defect rises in value, value-added; the pixels that can be seen on their heads become a conscious choice in trying to leave things as they are, a testimony of a modern condition.
The definition also assumes no other significance since it leads to memory by triggering a short circuit between the past and present, memory and technology. Venus and then Maternity related iconography of sacred art that with dominant colours, such as gold and the blue, evoking a medieval atmosphere. The Matrem-flower-creation in its various manifestations is an actual code that, together with the curves and lines, is the language of signs to which Chisesi gives autonomy, stimulating other perceptions. Even when the artwork seems faded and worn because of the weather, Matrem is more or less visible but always ready to emerge from any dark human soul to protect, preserve and give continuity, closing the circle and then re-open it and closing it again, in a ceaseless eternal cycle, and engages on the stories of yesterday as of today, like the artist does through the contamination and experimentations for an ever new and different perception of the visible.
In his formalistic inventions in which a certain aesthetic hedonism emerges, the canvas becomes a “spot” metaphoric of metamorphosis. With an attitude that could be affected by a vice postmodern given the practice of withdrawing, contamination, layering using different techniques, with incongruous backgrounds, both synchronic and diachronic, in reality he is moved by the feeling of wanting to retrace the fundamental steps of the history of ‘ art to not cease imagining new ones. In fact, the flowers, and other compositions of signs that make up his work, are protagonists both figurative and thematic of its sphere of imagination, turning into a kind of pattern with vocation of being simultaneously both a protagonist and also a background, suggesting a freedom that negates the hierarchies that are usually created in the scheme of the visions.
Negli occhi di Andrea Chisesi
by Martina Mazzotta (curatrice della fondazione Mazzotta Milano)
According to Fichte, “The kind of philosophy you choose depends on the sort of person you are”. This rare as well as precious coincidence when applied to an artist may reveal an extraordinary harmony between the person and his work.
The thought goes to Andrea Chisesi, a young artist and photographer educated in Milan but with umbrian-sicilian origins, worthy of critical attention for his way of being today both a man and an artist. It happens then that the aura belonging to the person invites you to discover his works and to find in them some continuity, as it has happened in many cases to critics, historians, gallery owners and art lovers who have been following him for many years. It’s an auriticity made of grace, lightness and kindness in manners, of clear glimpses and serene tones, which is unusual nowadays and so typical of gentlemen and knights of other times. It is an attitude towards harmony that Andrea acquired by developing an approach of the world mainly visual, when as a child he would compensate his reading and studying difficulties with drawing, painting, the use of various materials, since he was a child. It is also mostly at home, where tools and colours were displayed everywhere in a circular way, as in a room of marvels, at his father’s disposal, painter and then designer and graphic artist, and then for his mother, an artist as well. That’s how the clear and wide eyes of Andrea have been trained to catch images, in a voracious and extremely careful way, and to re-elaborate them with the most diversified means, fulfilling an ever present “Psycho-physical need” that has always accompanied him and that later he has translated into the vocation of all his life.
Very important is the training under a true Master, Beppe Madaudo, who introduces Andrea to the control of any painting techniques, to the use of gold, of colours, of the ornaments inherited from the Greek Byzantine, the post-Klimt, as a real Sicilian he works his canvases as precious stones. The elegance and purity of Andrea’s visual approach bring him to experiment phases and approaches in progress, always cultivating this talent which is probably the foundation of all his work: the eye of the photographer, the sharpness of which only a real talent can reveal, and that in this case, tends to privilege a “classical” sense of composition, made of rigor and harmony. In his most recent works, involved in his first exhibition, a sort of discard arises, comparing to the excessively elaborated canvas of the beginning. Starting from the surfaces and the concept of “deterioration”, on which Andrea works, he corrodes and tears them in order to print them like huge sheets – drenched of poetry – following their points of light, as in rayography.
So in this exhibition, from one hand we are led to re-experience, by empathy (Einfühlung) the gestual pleasure that Andrea feels in drawing vortices; from one other hand, we experience the elegance and harmony of feminine presences printed on canvas in a precious way, provocative and post-pop, new icons from Nicolai Lilin literature.