Pier Paolo Calzolari: Muitos estudos para uma casa de limao
Repetto Gallery Viewing Room
Into the yellow of the rose
Perennial, which, in bright expansiveness,
Lays forth its gradual blooming, redolent
Of praises to the never-wintering sun…
Divine Comedy, Paradise, XXX, 122-125
In his elegant writing, David Anfam cites the yellow of Goethe’s lemons; thus in this brief note, we could not forgo mention of our great Dante. Yellow as a colour, but yellow most of all as a symbol of light, of warmth and of grace: at the same time lightness and potency, energy and candour. Towards the end of the ’60s, at the start of his brilliant career, Pier Paolo Calzolari (Bologna, 1943) emerged as one of the most original and intransigent artists of the second half of the 20th century.
A profound and refined interpreter of the poetics of the sublime – more in its Baroque than its Romantic acceptation, in terms of theatricality, experimentation and marvel – he has always toyed and created with the force of the elements. Suspended between the two extremes of its possible etymology – sub-limen, beneath the architrave of the gateway, way up high; and sub-limo, beneath the mud, way down low – like a new Ulysses, he drew back the stiff bow of creativity, each time shooting the arrow of inspiration right up to his decisive encounter with the pure star of Form. But just what kind of Form? Not that based on the poetics of beauty – at least not beauty viewed as order, measure, equilibrium and symmetry – but on the contrary, each time espousing the risks of the sublime: the sentiment of the boundless, the vibrations of the unknown, the doubts of experimentation, the asymmetries of the void and the matter that feeds on its uninterrupted transformations. Hence the flame, vegetable matter, salt, water, tobacco, frost and ice became his forms and symbols. Like that of Ulysses, his is a colourful mind, and one which with endless skill adapts to the will of destiny, to the order of the elements, transforming itself and much else around him. In the identification of his extraordinary creativity, both archaic and unprecedented, remote and futuristic, in which the two sacred memories of Georges de La Tour and Caspar David Friedrich – fire and ice, heat and freezing, black and white – meet up once more in an embrace which is both intimate and impossible, real and infinite.
However, with these new works, his recent creations which we are happy and honoured to present – paper applied to the board, on which salt (presented as a large and dominant surface) dialogues with the milk tempera and various kinds of crayon – his creativity manages to regain a greater degree of decoration, an unprecedented pleasantness, like an extreme and lyrical song. In these new works, Calzolari seems to counterbalance a degree of calm, of tenderness, a fortuitous gracefulness made up of joyful and lively colours to his traditional stormy, restless and experimental waters; woven to form a candid fabric of kindly, refined gestures, in a chromatic approach which is both energetic and humble, brilliant and delicate. An unprecedented ‘pictorial’ universe, in which his previous ‘brazen cry’, having acquired a new air of wisdom, has been transformed into a multicolour zen chant.
Carlo and Paolo Repetto
Here is the third Calzolari, an intimate philosopher. Muitos estudos para uma casa de limão stems from this sensibility.
Never before exhibited, the project comprising twenty-two studies for a “lemon house” is sui generis, a one-of-a-kind suite complete in itself. Nevertheless, its matrix belongs to Calzolari’s wider practice – specifically the aforementioned painting-as-lyric mode. Executed on Torchon Arches paper mounted on board, the support’s roughness not only has a grain that helps texture the milk tempera medium, it also chimes with another of Calzolari’s signature substances, layered salt. In turn, the granular pigmented surface deftly embellished by marks made with ultra-soft, friable pastels (pastel à l’écu) establishes a concrete metaphor for the look and feel of a lemon’s skin. But before considering the fruit, Calzolari’s touch in this pictorial style merits mention. He has described painting as “a butterfly”. The butterfly and Calzolari’s facture have one common quality (beside their beauty): they quiver light as a feather (which, by no coincidence, belongs among the artist’s leitmotifs). Lightness is to materiality as transience is to time. After all, fruits form a late stage in a plant’s development, a prelude to its dormancy or death.
Extract of David Anfam’s text “Ripeness”, written in occasion of the exhibition of Muitos estudos para uma casa de limao, September 2019.