The intention of this work is to reconstruct a human, artistic and cultural account of Francesco Perilli through the broadest documentation available. In particular his activity as a painter is chronologically traced through catalogues, books, newspapers and journals. It is believed that, in so doing, the most careful and reliable biographical reconstruction possible has been achieved. Particular reference is made to the events tied to his “Symbol of Multiculturalism” monument located in Toronto, Sarajevo, Changchun and East London.
The painter’s words cited here are taken from the book by Domenico Guzzi and Francesco Perilli “Che cos’è il Multiculturalismo?” (What is Multiculturalism?), Edizioni Martintype, Martinsicuro.
Naturally, to revisit the life and experiences of an artist with the utmost fidelity would require a period of time equal to that life itself; for this reason the “biography” that is presented here may be considered a reliable foundation on which to continue to provide further integrations.
Nereto (province of Teramo), Francesco Perilli, the son of Giulio Perilli and Ada Santori, is born on October 4. Giulio Perilli - Ada Santori. He learns the first rudiments of art from his cabinetmaker father. Self-taught because, he says: “[…]at our house we needed money, not books or schooling […]”.
Nereto - He frequents a “ceramics workshop”; as well as the studio of sculptor Giuseppe Marinucci of Ascoli. Also contributing to Perilli’s artistic and cultural development over the course of the years were important encounters and contacts with artists and intellectuals such as, among others, Giuseppe Marinucci, Salvatore Flavio Raiola, Tito Rubini, Giuseppe Rosato, Armando Troni, Eugenio Riccitelli, Aleardo Rubini, Carlo Levi, Dacia Maraini, Giacomo Manzu’, Ermanno Olmi, Nanni Loy, Carlo Lizzani, Renato Guttuso, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Marino Mazzacurati, Tono Zancanaro
Augusto Murer, Francesco Casorati Pavarolo, Pietro Annigoni, Tommaso Paloscia, Giordana Canti, Roberto Roversi, Jean Pierre Coin, Federico Zeri, Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, Vincenzo Centorame, Antonio Sorella, Wiliam Zola, Walter Belardi, Abba Danna, Vittorio Sgarbi, Carmine Siniscalco, Midhat Haracic, Carlo Fabrizio Carli, Domenico Guzzi, Costanzo Costantini, Sante de Pasquale, Plinio Perilli, Xu Huaiwu, Li Quoquing, Li Shu, Patrizia Raimondi, Otello Gnaccarini, Ector Ormando, Miloslav Hirisch, Ari Liberman, Maro Gemonat , Ivana Kucerova, Lesley Ann Foster, Daja Appavoo, and Alessandro Dal Lago.
San Benedetto del Tronto - “Galleria Larcara”- The Commune’s Award “Premio Città di San Benedetto del Tronto” (the work is granted distinction and awarded a prize).
Nereto - Pro-Loco group exhibition
Alba Adriatica - “Galleria Albauno”. His has his first one man show. In the catalogue, a text by Aleardo Rubini.
Nereto - “Galleria Gruppo 3”. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Eugenio Riccitelli.
Foggia - Galleria dell’Artista - “Premio Primavera” (he is awarded first prize).
Fermo - Palazzo Comunale, Sala dei Ritratti. In the catalogue, a text by Giuseppe Rosato.
Siena - Gallery “l’Antica Bottega di Siena”. “XXIII Exhibition of Contemporary Art”.
Rome - “Il Camino” Art Gallery. “International Exhibition of Contemporary Art”.
Paris - L’Accademie Europeienne des Arts Cultural assembly.
Montesilvano in Pescara - Serena Majestic Gallery. “I giovani e l’arte” (young artists award). He is awarded first prize and the A.A.S.T. (Independent Tourist Board) trophy of Montesilvano.
Santa Margherita Ligure - Imperial Palace Hotel - The Gallery Dell’Arco organizes the city’s exhibition “Rassegna Città di Santa Margherita Ligure” (he is awarded first prize).
Torre del Greco - “Galleria Il Buco”. Exhibition of international art.
Genova - Palazzo Doria. International award “Gran Premio Internazionale Genova-Vienna” (he is awarded the special prize).
Vienna - The Academy of Fine Arts. International award “Gran Premio Internazionale Genova-Vienna” (he is awarded the eighth special prize).
Nereto - Galleria Gruppo 3. In the catalogue, a text by Aleardo Rubini.
Rome - “Il Camino” Art Gallery. Exhibition of international art.
Bibliography: “Il Tempo d’Abruzzo”, May 20; “Il Mezzogiorno”, September 12; “Il Mezzogiorno”, December 20; “Nuovo Corriere Senese”, October 4; “La Nazione”, December.
Frascati - “Galleria Altair”. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Salvatore Flavio Raiola.
Florence - “Galleria Gonnelli”. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Tommaso Paloscia-Ovar (Portugal).
Museo Civico - International Art Exhibition. (One work remains on permanent display)
Soresina - Cultural Center, Permanent Art Exhibit, City of Soresina. “Second Art Biennial” (he is awarded second place)
Bibliography:“Il Tempo D’Abruzzo”, May 2.
Nereto - June 4, 1977. Francesco Perilli weds Gabriella Stintone. Francesco Perilli and Gabriella Stintone Perilli.
Francavilla - Palazzo Sirena. “Ribalta” (In the forefront) - “Four Abruzzi artists”. Representing the four Provinces of Abruzzi: Giancarlo Brindisi, Stefano Lustri, Giampietro Verna, Francesco Perilli. Perilli represents the Province of Teramo.
Bibliography: “Oggi e Domani”, June; “La Gazzetta di Pescara”, July.
Nereto - He illustrates Tito Rubini’s book “Semi Dispersi” (Scattered Seeds), Unigraf Edizioni.
Nereto - January. His son Daniele is born. Francesco, Daniele and Gabriella Perilli.
Vercelli - Commune of Crescentino “VI World Exhibition of Contemporary Art” – he is awarded the fourth absolute prize.
Nereto - Palazzo Comunale, Sala Allende. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Giuseppe Rosato. He is awarded the gold medal of the Commune of Nereto for artistic merit.
New York - Coliseum. He takes part in “Artexpo”.
Bibliography related to the New York Expo: “Il Progresso Italo Americano-Arte e spettacolo”, May 5.
New York - Coliseum. By invitation, he takes part in “Artexpo”.
Perilli recalls: “[…] In 1983 I had the opportunity to exhibit several of my works at the Coliseum in New York; from there, invited by friends, I visited Toronto […]”.
La Spezia - “3rd Biennial Art Exhibit of the City of La Spezia” (chosen artist).
Toronto - “Columbus Center”. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Giordana Canti.
Toronto - “Columbus Center”. He gives a talk on the topic of “Multiculturalism”.
In Perilli’s words: “[…] I am convinced that interculture, or the intercultural process, is none other than the reception and transmission by and among different cultures. It is born with man, and nourished by communication.
Pluriculture, in turn, is summed up in the coexistence among and by different cultures within a single territory – and the entire planet – though still, as I said, uneducated as to the concept of coexistence.
While Multiculturalism, as far as I’m concerned and as far as what I think it really is, is nothing more than the modern intellectual tendency (call it philosophical way of thinking, if you will) which, in dialogue and mutual respect, is aimed at pursuing the rights and dignity of man, new strategies for peaceful coexistence, not only among cultures but even among different religions, by preserving the identities of everyone, and defending life. That along with aspiring to avoid any form of homologation (that is always lying in wait and never desirable but that, unfortunately, already exists in many respects).
To that end, Multiculturalism, by analyzing the syncretistic derivation of the encounter between different cultures, can be said to be involved in the intercultural phenomenon, leading its assumptions to more advanced conclusions.
Have I not been sufficiently clear?
I will try to explain myself better, saying that Multiculturalism is not only positive, but it is a means of developing interreligious dialogue and peaceful collaboration among men of different ancestries and convictions. And that because its own objective is in fact aimed at overcoming all hatred, both long-standing and nascent. In other words: Multiculturalism is conceived as contrary to every racist attitude and fanatical fundamentalism; it stands against every act of terrorism; it is opposed to any evidence, great or small, of overt struggle between individuals, from violence to conflict to genocide; it is adverse, in short, to any supremacy of one over the other that can lead appallingly, as has sometimes and even recently occurred, to the moral indecency of ethnic purging. Multiculturalism is also contrary – I repeat – to every homologation and egotism, political as well as economic and, in a broad sense, cultural.
Hence it follows, evidently, that those cultural identities which are, in their innermost depths, in opposition to what has been illustrated, are anti-multicultural par excellence, representing, today obviously, the most serious problem, hopefully surmountable through example and dialogue.
These are themes that I have been reflecting upon for almost twenty years and more. I have always thought of Multiculturalism as a kind of human and cultural Renaissance. As a new ethical duty, even, that will lead us all to being nondenominational citizens of the world, thoroughly united in an effort to to construct and merit a new one […]”.
Bibliography related to the New York Artexpo:“Il Progresso Italo Americano - Arte e spettacolo”, Philadelphia April 25.
Rai Corporation of New York, interview by Gianfranco Norelli broadcast in the United States and on Tg1 in Italy.
Toronto - He meets numerous intellectuals and instructors from the University of Toronto with whom he begins to exchange ideas on the subject of Multiculturalism. With them, moreover, he takes part in debates and gives lectures. Finally, he encounters a number of Canadian multiethnic associations.
The National Congress of Italian Canadians commissions from him a “Multiculturalism Medal” to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II of England on the occasion of her visit to Canada.
Back in Italy, he works on numerous sketches for the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”.
Bibliography related to the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” : Canada. “La Gazzetta Italo Canadese”, November 16.
Interview on M.T.V. of Toronto by Angelo Persichilli. “Toronto Star”, October 1, 1997.
Nereto. He completes the Multiculturalism Monument.
Toronto - The monument “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is inaugurated.
Perilli recalls: “[…] The idea evolved, naturally, through several designs that I was working on in Canada at that time. And since I found myself absorbed in such reflections, it was natural that I would try to imagine a form-emblem that, at the beginning, wasn’t even supposed to be a monument but, more simply, a kind of logo for my paper. In one of the meetings with a Minister – I seem to think he was actually the minister of Multiculturalism – I paused to explain the meaning of that image. It was the Minister himself – assuming I remember well – who suggested to me that I not only put in writing more extensively what I had told him verbally, but that I include one of the designs; he went on to further suggest that I ‘[…] propose it to the Canadian Government as a monument […]’..
Remembering, today, what happened, it would seem that it was all linear and simple. In reality it was not that way.
After many ups and downs, in fact, they actually came to the conclusion that they couldn’t use it. Not indeed because the idea was not appealing and did not find consensus, but because the Canadian Government, speaking through Secretary of State Goldfingher, made me aware that it could not deal directly with an artist, and a guest on top of that. In short, these were matters to be discussed by institutional delegations. However, specifically because it seemed that it would be opportune to realize the idea of a Symbol of Multiculturalism, it was he himself who advised me to formulate a proposal to the Italian Government, within the framework of the cultural exchange agreements between the two countries, signed at the time by Amintore Fanfani.
Which I did as soon as possible. The project, nevertheless, became lost in the ministerial cabinets of Susanna Agnelli. And in Canada, meanwhile, there was a change in Government.
After some time, to my surprise, I received a phone call from a representative of the Italian Community in Toronto, with whom I had also had occasion to speak before my return to Italy. He informed me that the National Congress of Italian Canadians had decided to take on the initiative. It was a conclusion that could not please me more, giving me great enthusiasm. […]
It was that year in which the Congress of Italian Canadians decided to present Toronto with the monument as a gift, on the occasion of the celebrations of the 150th year of the city’s founding. Thus the Italian-Canadian deputy, and chief supporter of the initiative, Laureano Leone, came to Italy to draw up the contract.
While the same Congress commissioned from me a medal, with my multiculturalist Symbol, to be presented as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II of England on the occasion of her visit to Toronto […] I conceived the monument to be cast in bronze, and, stylistically, in a postmodern vein. It represents a man who, at the center of the globe, joins two meridians; while the remaining meridians are held aloft by doves, a peace symbol in themselves. Moreover, the doves are symbolically meant to represent the cultural vitality of the people who, with the man, construct a new world, under the banner of dialogue and mutual respect […] My work, to be sure, was not in support of the postmodern and, furthermore, it was not the only work that I experimentally conceived in such a way. During that period, in fact, I produced several paintings – not many, to be truthful – in which I attributed to the figures fragments of drapery of the classical period. They were compositions that, in any case, were meant to overturn rational contexts by reviving classical details and particulars, that I nevertheless specifically reintroduced in decidedly irrational contexts […]”.
Vatican City - Francesco Perilli was received to illustrate the multicultural project by monseigneur Raffaele Farina of the “Papal Cultural Council”.
Perilli recollects: “[….] I have already indicated how enthusiastic I was when, in 1985, I returned to Canada. Because of this I asked to be received by a representative of the “Papal Cultural Council”.
The Undersecretary of that Council received me, Monseigneur Raffaele Farina, and I showed him designs of my work, as well as illustrating to him my idea – summarized in several written notes – concerning the multicultural theme.
‘When did you conceive the monument?’, he asked me. ‘At the end of the Seventies, beginning of the Eighties. But I think that the concept that the sculpture expresses and embodies has always been in my mind; except that I had never thought of becoming involved with it so directly before’, I answered.
‘Prophetic. This is the philosophy of the Pope’, he said. To round off our talk, some time later he wrote to me that the Papal Council ‘[…] finds the idea of further elaborating and diffusing what you have already expressed in an incisive, effective way, in the esteemed sculpture that constitutes the Monument to “multiculturalism” in the city of Toronto, entirely sound and to be encouraged […]’.”
Bibliography related to the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” : “Corriere Canadese”, July, front page and p. 5. “Maclean’s”, July. RAI, TG2 1 pm.
Nereto. Perilli establishes the “Center for Studies on Multiculturalism”. He recalls: “[…] I had occasion to present my Symbol to the President of the Republic, Sandro Pertini, to whom I gave one of the sketches.
That same year and still on the crest of optimism, I, along with several intellectuals of Abruzzi, had the idea of establishing a “Center for Multiculturalism Studies”, in which conferences and round tables were organized around this new thematic.
Obviously amid the skepticism of many […]”.
San Benedetto del Tronto - “Galleria Open Art”. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Giorgio Ruggeri.
Roseto degli Abruzzi - Villa comunale gallery. Group show. In the catalogue, a text by Claudia Ricci.
Nereto - The monument “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is inaugurated.
Perilli explains: “[…] Central to the entire compositional axis, the human figure symbolically represents the universality of man. It is not by accident that I imagined such a figure completely deprived of features and hair, in order to avoid any characterization that might identify him with a specific race or ethnic group. Just as the effort that he is making is intended to unite the forces that innervate the world, implying that man’s task is to heal and reunite that which man himself has played such a role in dividing. The sphere as well – in my intentions, at least – expresses the totality of the relationship between man and the globality of nature that accommodates him. The symbolism of the circle – evident in the solar cult of primitive peoples as well as in certain modern religions, in myths as in dreams and in the mandalas of Tibetan monks, from the spherical notions of the early astronomers to the conception of city-planning – represents none other than the essential aspect of life, its overall, definitive globality.
Likewise, the eight meridians, held aloft by eight doves, also have a precise symbolic significance: they indicate, in fact, the four cardinal points, and the intermediary directions present in the compass rose. I wanted to literally signify that all cultures from all over the planet contribute to the edification of the world […]”.
Pescara. He meets Federico Zeri. Perilli recounts: “[…] I had of course read several books and articles of his, and I had also read some articles about him; just as I had happened to hear him in television interviews and certain programs that he did for RAI, that, being interesting and naturally about culture, were broadcast late at night. From what I read and heard, I was led to believe that the results of that postmodern parenthesis of mine might in some way arouse his curiosity.
There was another problem. I didn’t know how to contact him, or where he lived. By accident, one day, I happened to see the news that he would come to Abruzzi to preside over the “Flaiano Award”. It seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. I therefore assembled some photographs of those works of mine, and went to the Award ceremony. When it was over, queuing up with the others, I went up to the stage to greet him. And, though my heart was pounding, I asked him if it would be possible to make an appointment, for a talk. ‘About what?’, he replied, frowning.
I said I was a painter, and in a somewhat different tone Zeri said: ‘Contemporary art does not interest me’. I was quite disappointed and, clutching the photos in my hands, had no choice but to turn away. When I had started off toward home, however, at a certain point I had a sudden thought. When would I ever – I said to myself – happen to have such an occasion again? It was the impetus that made me retrace my steps.
Everyone was already out of the Theatre. A small crowd surrounded Zeri, who was waiting for his driver. I made my way through but, when I was close to the point of shaking his hand once more, I lacked the courage to speak to him again. Nevertheless I had the presence of mind, at that moment, to show the photographs to the person who was accompanying him, who I only later learned was his RAI director.
‘You are with the Professor?’, I asked. ‘Yes, why?’, he replied. ‘I would like to show him these photos’, I said. The man took them, and began to study them carefully. Zeri, who was a step away, said: ‘What is it now?’ ‘Look at these photos’, his friend said to him. Zeri took them and looked at them. ‘Curious, these things,
who are you? … really interesting’, he said to me. Then, handing them back to me: ‘Call me in January, and I’ll come and see them’.
‘He’s not joking, is he?’, I asked his companion. ‘Zeri never jokes about these things; do as he told you and congratulations, because to arouse the curiosity of a man like him with art, and especially in these circumstances, is truly no small thing, believe me’. He gave me the address and telephone number. […] ‘Who’s calling?’, Zeri began, personally answering the phone. ‘Good afternoon, Professor, it’s Perilli’. ‘Perilli who?’, he replied. ‘Professor, we met in Pescara, at the Flaiano Awards; I showed you some photographs of paintings representing classical drapery in irrational contexts… you told me to call you at this time, remember?’ ‘Oh, yes. However, don’t call me at this hour, it disturbs me. Call me back tomorrow around seven in the morning. I will let you know when you can come’.” And so I did. Our acquaintance grew deeper over the years.
And today, for example, it is with gratitude that I recall how he intervened personally in support of my paintings with a number of Italian gallery owners, until I landed in Rome at Carmine Siniscalco’s “Studio S”. Zeri was always very interested in what I did and what I said. And even when I stopped painting in the genre that enabled me to get to know him, his curiosity toward my work did not diminish. ‘[…] I think highly of you as an artist, but I also like your way of thinking […]’, he would say to me. Later, he would also write that he was ‘[…] very pleased about the successful show in Rome, and the other positive events that followed it.
I would say, from all evidence, that you have by now taken off toward national and, I predict, international heights […]’.”
Alba Adriatica. Perilli’s “Monumento ai caduti” (Monument to the Fallen) is inaugurated.
Bologna - Bologna Francesco Perilli meets art critic Giorgio Ruggeri in his studio on Via dei Poeti.
Ascoli Piceno - Sala Mercatori, Palazzo Comunale. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Giorgio Ruggeri, “Oltre l’estetica”, Beyond Aesthetics (dedicated to graphic works).
Ripatransone - Municipal Gallery of Modern Art. Group show of artists from the Abruzzo-Marche. Osvaldo Rossi, curator. The work is on permanent loan to the Pinacoteca.
New York - Artexpo. Edigell Expostions, a division of Edgel Comunications.
Rome - The Symbol of Multiculturalism is chosen as the cover of the book: “La Società Multiculturale in Italia” (The Multicultural Society in Italy), Massimo Girelli, ed., published by the Prime Minister’s Office, Information and Publishing Department, and printed by the State Printing Office.
Bibliography: “La ReRepubblica-Il Venerdì”, May 17; “AdnKronos”, May 28; “Il Centro”, October 16; “Il Centro”, June 4; “Il Messaggero delle Marche”, June 6.
Pratola Peligna - Palazzo Comunale. “Arte Abruzzo”.
Nereto - He organizes the Conference “Problemi Multiculturali tra le due Europe” (Multicultural Problems between the Two Europes), during which he states: “[…] I have commended the work which I have somewhat emphatically called “Multicultural Flag” to Monseigneur Tommaso Mariucci, the speaker who officially represented the Vatican, as well as to Mr. Abba Danna, the speaker on the muslim and African religion from Chad, as well as to every other speaker and authority present […]”.
Rome - “Studio S” Contemporary Art. “L’orrore del vuoto” (The Horror of the Void), one man show. In the catalogue, texts by Carlo Fabrizio Carli and Giorgio Ruggeri. Una lunga storia (A Long Story), 1993, mixed media, 32x24 inches
Parma - He meets Arturo Carlo Quintavalle.
Alexandria, Egypt. Musèe des Beaux-Arts of Alexandria. “XIII Biennial of Alexandria” - Pour les Arts des Pays Mediterranes.
Sulmona - Palazzo dell’Annunziata. He is invited to the “Sulmona Awards”. (Awarded the silver prize). The work is in the permanent collection of the “Museo Civico di Arte Moderna”, the municipal modern art museum.
Cairo - “Akhenaton Centre of the Arts”. One man show “Vernincisioni” (painted engravings). In the catalogue, texts by Carmine Siniscalco and Mhoammed Rezk.
Nereto - Perilli’s “Monumento a Ferdinando Ranalli” (Monument to Ferdinando Ranalli) is inaugurated.
Bologna. “Galleria Ariete”. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Domenico Guzzi.
Rome - “Studio S” Contemporary Art. Invited to the exhibition “Opera Ultima” (Recent Work).
Dusseldorf - Internationaler Justmarkt. “Art Multiple”.
Cologne - Kolon Messe. “International Art Exhibition”.
Bibliography: “La Repubblica Giorno & Notte”, Bologna, April 6; “Il Resto del Carlino”, April 6.
Bologna - “Galleria Ariete”. “Cromatica” (Chromatics). Group show.
Dusseldorf - Internationaler Justmarkt. “Art Multiple”.
Atlanta - “Archer Locke Gallery” - Group exhibition.
New York - “New York’s Outsider Fair”. With the “Archer Locke Gallery” of Atlanta.
Atlanta - One of his paintings is housed permanently in the exhibition space of the “Coca Cola Company”.
Naples - “Galleria Il Diagramma 32”. One man show. “Vertigini e memorie” (Giddiness and Memories). In the catalogue, texts by Carlo Fabrizio Carli and Costanzo Costantini.
Geneva - “Galleria d’Arte”. “L’Arcade Chausse coqs”.
Rome - He illustrates a book by Sante De Pasquale, “Specularità Inversa” (Inverse Specularity), Edizioni Fermenti.
Sarajevo. The monument “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is inaugurated.
Perilli recounts: “[…] In 1997 the Abruzzo Region – and I must emphasize the humanity of all its political forces – approved a provision to finance the monument Symbol of Multiculturalism intended for Sarajevo. Where it was placed in the very heart of that tormented city. On the occasion of the inaugural ceremony – the international press and the Bosnian press gave it ample coverage naturally – at which the major Bosnian authorites were present along with an official delegation from my Region, the Governor of Sarajevo conferred honorary citizenship upon me. […] But as sometimes happens, good intentions come up against unforeseeable and unanticipated facts of reality. You know that, even given all of its symbolic meanings, the centrality of the monument pivots on a figure. Furthermore I have explained the reasons why that figure has no somatic features. It was for these very reasons of universality that I conceived it as nude. Which, if you think about it, could also correspond to the idea of Nuda veritas.
You are equally well aware, however, that Islamic culture does not allow anthropomorphic representation. Just imagine if, besides depicting the image of a man, you add the fact that he has no clothes.
Well. These were the reasons that led a fringe group of fundamentalists to protest vividly and zealously. I was actually accused of “idolatry” (I have newspapers here that are evidence of it).
To begin with that group symbolically covered the sculture’s genitals; it then threatened to tear it down and destroy it. Threats that for a long time led the authorities of Sarajevo to have the monument guarded, night and day, by the police. Meanwhile Paul Watson, in the pages of the “Los Angeles Times”, observed that the Symbol, created with the aim of celebrating tolerance, was paradoxically in danger of reopening old wounds as a result of intolerance. As you may imagine, this was not part of my intent […]”.
Bibliography related to the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” in Bosnia: “Oslobodene- Ponedjeljak”, July 14; “Dnevni Avaz” “Sarajevski Kanton”, July 15; “Sarajevo, Utorak” , July 15.
“Oslobodenje-Utorak- Sarajevska Hronika”, July 15. Bibliography: “Il Tempo d’Abruzzo”, May 4; “Il Centro” “Aquilone“, August 13.
1998 - Bibliography related to the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”: U.S.A: “Los Angeles Times”, December 11; Bosnia: “Oslobodenie - Ponedjak”, September 21; “Sarajevo Wikipedia, the free enciclopedia”, culture.
Bibliography: “Il Messaggero d’Abruzzo”, September 27; “Il Messaggero”, September 27; “Il Centro - Cultura & Società”, September 26; “Il Messaggero d’Abruzzo”, September 28; “La Repubblica delle donne”. Rai Art’è Nazionale feature report by Netta Vespignani-
Rome - “Studio S” Contemporary Art. One man show. “Kouros Kore”. In the catalogue, a text by Domenico Guzzi.
Offida - Museo Civico. One man show. In the catalogue, a text by Plinio Perilli.
Giulianova - Museo dello Splendore, Sala Trevisan. “Tracciati d’Arte in Abruzzo” (Traces of Art in Abruzzo). Carlo Fabrizio Carli, curator.
Ancona - Mole Vanvitelliana. He is invited to the “Marche Awards”. Biennial of Contemporary Art. The work is in the permanent collection of the Ancona Museum of Contemporary Art.
Rome - He illustrates a book by Sante De Pasquale, “Contingente libero” (Free Contingent), Fermenti Editore.
Toronto - July. The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is on the cover of “Ulysses Travel Guide”, 2nd edition. Perilli begins talks with Chinese authorities to install the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” in that country.
Perilli says: “[…] I have always had a strong attraction for three-dimensionality. So much so that even the paintings that I have been doing for the last few years are animated not only by shapes and color, but by depths that actually seem sculpturesque to me […]”.
Bibliography: “Italia”, May 9-10; “Il Centro”, September 28;“ Il Secolo d’Italia”, May 25; “Abruzzo nel Mondo”, April-May; “Archivio”, November.
Rome - Church of Saint Rita. “ARGAM” (Modern Art Galleries Association of Rome).
Cairo - Gazira Art Center Museum. “Paralleli generazioni tecniche e tendenze” (Parallels Technical Generations and Trends). In the catalogue, texts by Carmine Siniscalco and Mhoammed Rezk.
Toronto - The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is on the cover of: “The World within a City”, Urban Capestri.
Sarajevo - Perilli states: “[…] the importance that the Symbol has assumed for that city is confirmed to me by the fact that the Bosnian Encyclopedia has published it as its own cultural emblem […]”.
Bibliography related to the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”: “Corriere Canadese”, June. “News Italia Press”, December 14. “Al –Aharam- Arts”, Egypt, October 25-31.
Hong Kong. The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is on the cover of: Series Towery- Publishing Inc. (printed in Hong Kong).
Toronto - The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is published in: “Yellow Pages”, Telus Superpages, City of Toronto.
Peking/Beijing - “First Biennial of Modern Art” (chosen, invited artist).
(Due to an epidemic, the exhibition was cancelled, as was the painter’s one man show at the Italian Cultural Institute) Changchun. The monument “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is inaugurated in the Chinese People’s Republic.
Perilli recalls: “[…] As far as China is concerned, it all began in 1999, when I sent a dossier of documents to Mr. Lì Guoquing, the Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of the Chinese People’s Republic in Italy. In that situation I ventured to propose the realization of the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” – rather than a monument, which fundamentally it is, I like to continue to call it a symbol – in a representative city of that country, to represent the entire Asian Continent. I requested, and was granted, a meeting in Rome during which Mr. Lì Guoquing expressed to me his own personal interest, and pledged to facilitate the initiative.
After several months a phone call from his Office informed me that the Minister of Culture had also been informed and that, indeed, he had shown a sincere interest in the project, and considered it feasible provided that the proposal were to come to him through institutional channels. […] By this time I knew what steps to take.
I therefore hastened to communicate the news to the Mayor of my city, asking whether the Administration might be willing to support the initiative. To make a long story short… Not only the Commune of Nereto, but the Province of Teramo, the Val Vibrata Union of Communes and the Abruzzese Regional Government also became involved. Thus it happened that in the early months of 2000, the Commune of Nereto received an official communication from the Mayor of the City of Chang Chun, Mister Li Shu, who in the name of and ‘[…] on behalf of the municipal government, that I represent, confirm the recognition of the monument as a symbol of ‘multiculturalism’, a monument that will be created by Francesco Perilli and displayed permanently in Changchun […]’. He furthermore declared himself to be honored to accept the work, all of whose symbolic significances he shared and acknowledged. […]In August 2002, with the sponsorship of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the presence of Chinese and Italian authorities, the third example of the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” was inaugurated, in a very central square of the great city of Changchun.
On that occasion I received a letter from Gianfranco Fini, Vice President of the Council of Ministers, in which, among other things, he wrote that “[…] with the creation of the third replica of the Symbol of Multiculturalism for the city of Chang Chun the realization of your original plan continues to move ahead.
I am very pleased that your initiative continues to meet with interest and success and that soon all the Continents will be ideally united by a work of art with a precise symbolic significance […]”.
Likewise, some time after the inauguration, the Deputy Director of the Changchun Municipal Foreign Affairs Office wrote to me, ‘[…] Your sculpture is found in the center of our city now and for all times. A few days after the inaugural ceremony, our Foreign Minister Tang Jaxuan expressed a very positive opinion of the event […] A well-known newspaper World Affaire Pictorial (under the direction of the Foreign Ministry) published a full-page report of the event, which will be sent throughout the world […]’. And, in fact, I received messages from every nation, among them even Russia […]”.
Milan - The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is published in the book: Piero Angela, “Viaggio nella Scienza” (Scientific Journey), Mondadori.
Milan - The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is published in the book: Richard Dawkins, “L’Arcobaleno della Vita” (original title: Unweaving the Rainbow), introduction by Piero Angela, Oscar Mondadori, 2002.
Bibliography related to the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”: China: “World Affaire Pictorial”, Journal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese People’s Republic; “Changchun Daili”, front page, October 24; “China Life”, front page, October 24.
Bibliography: “L’ Oracolo”, Pescara, January 1.
San Remo - Villa Ormond. “Immagini e colori del lavoro” (Working Images and Colors). Vincenzo Centorame, curator.
Bibliography: “Abruzzo Italia-International Magazine of Italian Life”, August 27.
St’Art/Strasbourg - Des di Parc, Strasbourg/Wacken - “Foire d’Art contemporain”
Bibliography related to the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”: “Toronto Life”, September 16. “Toronto Star, Ho Anderson”, April 21.
Bibliography: “Il Centro – Cultura & Società”, April 28; “Il Messaggero”, Cultura & Spettacoli, July 31; “Il Centro”, November 28.
Ghent - Foire d’Art. Internationale “Lineart Gent-Belgium”.
Teramo - The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is inaugurated in the rotunda of Porta Madonna on the occasion of the creation of the twin cities of Teramo-Prague.
Perilli conceives the idea of installing the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” in Jerusalem. He meets with Nemer Hammad, Head of the Palestinian Delegation in Italy.
He recalls: “[…] Just as with Sarajevo, where right in the middle of the war I began to weave my web to bring the idea of modern multicultural thinking to that country, so I attempted, and am attempting, to do in Jerusalem. I therefore had the same proposal sent to the Israel and Palestinian dilpomatic delegations in Italy: to install the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” right there in Jerusalem, precisely on the Israel-Palestinian border.
Mr. Nemer Hammad, Head of the Palestinian Delegation in Italy, wanted to meet with me to learn more and after a long discussion, and before giving me a response, he waited to hear from the National Palestinian Authority. […] This is Nemer Hammad’s letter. ‘[…] In reference to our meeting in Rome on May 17, 2005, you presented to us the idea of installing the Symbol of ‘multiculturalism’ in the place that divides the Palestinian people and the Israeli people.
During the aforementioned meeting we studied the copious documentation related to the installations you have done in various parts of the world. After having carefully read the commendable significance that acceptance of the Symbol involves, text that we fully agree with, and after having heard from the National Palestinian Authority, it is our pleasure to inform you that we enthusiastically support the initiative.
We therefore believe that, if the same support were to come from Israeli authorities as well, such an initiative could help seal a desirable acceleration of the peace process for the good of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, that would affect all the peoples of the Middle East. […]’. As for the Israelis, I am still waiting to hear from them. On that front, however, it is all somewhat more complicated, since the Embassy tells me that not even they know to whom the request and related documentation should be forwarded.
I have been advised, among other things, to address my request directly to the Mayor of Jerusalem. I confess, however, that I have not yet had the time or opportunity to do so. You see, this is a painter’s studio, not a ministry; I don’t have secretaries and, what’s more, I don’t know the languages. Believe me, for me it is very difficult to move all this forward, even though by now I am clearly aware that is is unquestionably important […]”.
Bibliography related to the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”: Kennet Kidd, “Toronto Star”, The City Public Art. Cover Story”, June 26 ; South Africa: East London, “This Week’s Edition”, June 2; East London, “This Week’s Edition”, September 1.
Bibliography: “Goodmorning”, August-September.
Rome-Nereto. Francesco Perilli and Domenico Guzzi publish a book they have co-authored entitled “Che cos’è il Multiculturalismo?” (What is Multiculturalism?), Edizioni Martintype, Martinsicuro.
Guzzi writes in the preface: “[…] I have the impression that it may indeed be necessary to give an explanation about the ‘whys and wherefores’ of this curious publication on the reasons for Multiculturalism (curious especially in that it is the work of a painter and an art critic who apparently should have no reason to). Nevertheless, since Francesco Perilli is a painter and sculptor, I think it would be more useful for these introductory pages to be not an actual commentary on the assumptions of a finished work (that anyone who wishes may read, possibly drawing some benefit from it, even if nothing more than information), but on an interior journey, for the last decade at least, toward an aesthetically creative stance.
While it is necessary – this indeed, anticipating those who may want to point a finger at him, perhaps asserting the extraneity of an artist to problems of such a nature – to state that the pages that follow are not intended to be (although in their own way and a posteriori in any case, they might also end up being considered as such) either a philosophical treatise, or a sociological or any other kind of treatise, conceived on scientific foundations. It is rather an ensemble of deliberations, on quite a broad span of themes (everything which, even in the polemics of the daily paper, is included in existentiality), not certainly without valence for certain problematic aspects, on the part of an artist who, for a long time and yet as an artist, has been formulating, not hypotheses of a speculative nature, but meditations of a “more contained nature on the bond of Multiculturalism”, as he himself would say, not without a certain self-satisfied complacency. Multiculturalism about whose significance, and in extreme synthesis, he says: ‘[…]
as far as I’m concerned and as far as what I think it really is, Multiculturalism is nothing more than the modern intellectual tendency (call it philosophical way of thinking, if you will) which, in dialogue and mutual respect, is aimed at pursuing the rights and dignity of man, new strategies for peaceful coexistence, not only among cultures but even among different religions, by preserving the identities of everyone, and defending life. That along with aspiring to avoid any form of homologation (that is always lying in wait and never desirable but that, unfortunately, already exists in many respects). To that end, Multiculturalism, by analyzing the syncretistic derivation of the encounter between different cultures, can be said to be involved in the intercultural phenomenon, leading its assumptions to more advanced conclusions. […]’
Considerations, moreover, from which a monumental work of his was born at the beginning of the Eighties (testimony to a long, articulated thought process), that, in successive replicas and subsequent times, was installed first in Canada, then in China, Italy and Bosnia, and that, soon, also found a place in South Africa and Australia. Similarly, Perilli has sound reasons to think that there may be one in Jerusalem as well, on the exact border between Palestine and Israel. Disinterestedly dreaming, he goes on to say, ‘[…] it may stand to become an emblem in each of the five Continents […]’.
Multiculturalism on whose principles, in reality – even though many have intervened, and are intervening, to try to clarify its logic, with theses that are often in mutual contradiction – there would seem to be no detailed, much less convergent information, as indicated. And this is the reason (besides wanting to stress the sense of a long interview) for that question mark that follows the title. What would seem certain, above all else, however is that – as Massimo Cacciari wrote recently – Multiculturalism is no less than ‘[…] a destiny. Ours […]’.”
Nereto - He begins the “cycle” of paintings “Fossili ibridi” (Hybrid Fossils).
Bologna - “Galleria Gnaccarini”. One man show. “Fossili ibridi” (Hybrid Fossils). In the catalogue, a text by Domenico Guzzi.
Karlsruhe - Art Karlsruhe - International Trade Fair Modern Art.
Buffalo city (East London) (South Africa). The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is inaugurated in December.
Perilli says: «[…] East London, the city where Nelson Mandela was born. And there’s more. Something I find distinctly moving. My Symbol, in South Africa, has a significant variation: Mandela himself states: “We might have our differences, but we are one people with a common destiny in our rich variety of culture, race and tradition” (Nelson Mandela).
City of Mthartha - A “minimal” version of the “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is in the permanent collection of the “Nelson Mandela National Museum”.
Milan - The “Symbol of Multiculturalism” is published on the cover of the book “Free World: America, Europe and the Surprising Future of the West”, by Timothy Garton Ash.
Random House. Italian edition: Oscar Saggi Mondadori, 2002.
Bibliography: RAI 3 TG Region, documentary interview. Italian News-Daily Dispatch, December 15.
Nereto. He prepares a new cycle of works entitled “Reperti dal Futuro” (Evidence of the Future).
Venice. He meets with Philip Rilands, director of the “Peggy Guggehneim Museum” in Venice, who subsequently sends him this letter: “Your art is strong, original, heartfelt, and I wish you well. The decision to become an artist is terrible and courageous: because each day one’s soul and existence are exposed to the judgment of strangers, who often are thoughtless individuals of unfeeling cruelty toward those who are sensitive. And artists are among the most sensitive. […]
We will examine in detail your material from the catalogues and documents given to us and those that we have in our archives. Please keep me informed of developments regarding your interesting work.”
Martinsicuro. He completes the Obelisk dedicated to the Fallen.
Giulianova. He completes the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”.
Assisi. He completes the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”.
Corropoli. Ancient Abbey
In the presence of the delegations from the Embassies of Canada, Bosnia Herzegovina, the People’s Republic of China and South Africa, Alessandro Dal Lago, Dean of the Faculty of Sociology of the University of Genoa, presents the book “Cos’è il Multiculturalismo?” (What is Multiculturalism?”) by Domenico Guzzi and Francesco Perilli.
L’Aquila. Sixteenth-century Castle. Museo Nazionale d’Arte Moderna.
Anthological show. The exhibition is sponsored by the Abruzzo Regione. In the catalogue, texts by Domenico Guzzi.
Los Angeles. Watts Towers Arts Center - Exhibition of Neutralism’s works.
Los Angeles. Installation of the “Symbol of Multiculturalism”.
Interview with Francesco Perilli
Intervista a Francesco Perilli
| “And life grows/ from these stone ruins”: An artist’s challenge to contemporary art….
Interview with Francesco Perilli
“I am concrete, […], freedom is fundamental but not necessary to creation, […], and I hate performances. I hate mere research that leads only to gestures lacking of the wisdom of craft, of the past that reaches into the future”… With sentences pregnant of meaning, brief and willfully polemical, begins the challenge of an artist to that world of contemporary art that is self-referential and self-complacent. A challenge that has brought the artist to conceive a new pictorial thinking he calls Neutralism. But, can an Italian artist from a provincial town, Nereto (near Teramo), in the Abruzzi region, a place few Americans have even heard of, be heard worldwide?
Yet his works are present in the four corners of the world: from Italy to Bosnia, from China to Australia, from South Africa to Canada and now in the United States, in San Pedro. Can his fossils of a future already gone speak to the future of art?
I meet him in his town of Nereto. He is in his studio, engulfed by the hazy cloud of the smoke from his ever-lit Tuscan cigars. He is surrounded by this research, his works, and I am here to collect and record his thoughts, to translate him into English, thus opening him to a public he has never met but only imagined or perhaps even prophesized.
-Francesco, many recent critical essays comment on the unhappy state of the contemporary art world, including the most recent reviews of the Whitney Biennial. Why don’t we start then from your own ‘biologic’ conception of art, from your idea that art may be conceived as an ontology of the human body. What is, then, art for you?
-A work of art is authentic when its results correspond to or are close to the artist’s intention […] But I am decisively against the idea that all may be art: if everything can become art, then we might as well say that nothing can be art! The true work of art may be compared to a living organism with a healthy constitution that like our body needs various substances: water, calcium, iron, potassium, glucose, magnesium, vitamins, proteins, etc. These are all vital elements that we need in balanced quantity. In the same way art needs knowledge, talent, technique, skills, dexterity, instinct, casualty, fantasy, creativity, thoughtfulness, character, emotion, expressiveness, originality… If just one of these elements are lacking or in excess, the result, the impact and the valence of the artistic gesture are out of balance.
-Which of these qualities, then, do you see lacking in contemporary art or in the art that has brought us to contemporary practice?
- Let me give you a small/big but concrete example that has produced works that meet and have met with the full consensus of Modernity. When looking at Pop Art, I always think that it often lacks the author’s emotions, just as it lacks craft. Its principal aspect is its use as a medium of mass communication… You might recall the intuitions that a critic like Giulio Carlo Argan arrived to in his study of Modern Art? “Pop arts marks the end point of a process of degradation and dissolution of the object as the known element of a process of dualistic knowledge in which the other element is the subject, the individual; obviously it is also the degradation and the dissolution of the individual as subject, whose fundamental thinking activity consists in conceptualizing things as others from the self”. Argan loved referring to such talents as Lichtenstein, and particularly Andy Warhol: “His talent is that of Obscelence, the process of absorbing and dissolving news in mass psychology”… Absorption and Dissolution… However fortunate, vast and unsettling its success may be in a world full of tyrannical Consumerism, it is this drifting away that risks leading us too far way from the harbor of true creativity, from reaching a true creative gesture… Pop Art, in fact, is an art easy to produce for whoever possesses a well-developed sense of communication! The techniques used are easily accessible – and it ends up imposing itself as advertisement, as the performance of an age, a concept rather than true artistic production. It is not art that must block or attract thinking to shape it according to popular culture, which is concerned with something altogether different, rather, it should be popular culture that must make an effort to grow and elevate its knowledge and its unexpected and unfathomable aesthetic level.
- It seems that one of the questions you raise, then, is the choice between instinct and thought? Or perhaps both? Many have noticed the flattening of the experiences of contemporary art, to the point that the latest Venice Biennial was too didactic, almost indexical, but not everyone points to emotion as a solution… what type of emotion then should art aim to evoke?
- Instinct and thought are almost always in conflict – and in the case of American abstract expressionism (as with the great Pollock), thinking is at the origins and it belongs to others, maybe even to everyone, while the artist remains fully free to act. It is an art fully animated of its author’s emotions, but also full of the viewer’s emotions, who will record, will leave strong emotions: the underground layer of the unconscious will be completely involved
in action painting … I would almost compare Jackson Pollock to a great orchestra director, whose art express the musical, expressive and harmonic elements of Modernity – regardless of the notable formal travails – and informed of almost all cultural components which light up and mimic the most meaningful. Lyrical and innovative universal language. In Pollock expressive balance domesticates and surveys the risk and the wish for an art completely new.
Art dies when the balance of all its components, the paradigm of its end goes astray.
Abstract Expressionism demonstrates that instinct tied to emotion, may be sufficient for the completeness of a works of art – regardless of the mix of languages and the permanent transgression that modernity dictates. On the contrary, thinking without emotion and direct participation, whether suffered or desired by the artist, deprives the work of its ‘humanist’ component that is fundamental for the integration, the course and acquisition of the pure artistic gesture.
- Is it for this reason, then, that you contest and reject great part of contemporary art?
- Recently we have ended up imagining, theorizing that Art may be a receptacle, a dynamic multivalent container where one may introduce, park, or place every sort of bizarre things… Modernity has privileged the concept over emotion, and therefore has de-humanized contemporary art. Because of their being outside of the makers’ skill and their being outside of the physical and emotional participation of their makers, the new technical or technological prosthesis (that is what I would like to call them!) have destroyed and led astray the gesture and rite of creation. I read you a passage from the diary of Paul Klee that goes back to 1905, more than a century ago! “I logically begin from chaos, as it is natural. I am calm because I cannot begin with being at one with chaos myself. This is the maternal hand of nature. However in front of the white canvas I stand often in fear and doubt. Then I shake myself and I start on the narrow path of linear representation”. “The maternal hand of Nature…. With fear and doubt…” and instead today, chaos is no longer useful, a teacher or a treasure! It is no longer the narrow path… In place of the hand, of the destroying or nurturing gesture, there is instead a mere prosthesis! I refer to collages, photo/video montages, costumes, design, performances, installations where the author becomes a director or architect of extravagant events full of chatter, that have invented millions of “artists”, epigones of Nothing.
We are, in fact, in front of an homologous Avant-garde! But avant-garde of what? The avant-garde should be at the beginning, and it cannot become “academy” of itself… Art “arrives on a desert” said Malevic in 1915 in his Suprematist Manifesto – “where nothing is recognizable, except sensitivity”. And it had a sense in the period of his challenging Black Square on a White Background… But today the conceptual desert is full of supermarkets, offices, and technological houses, a whole Manhattan of skyscrapers. Sensitivity is thrown out or made into a
vertical object of glass and cement. Art is adrift and this must be re-iterated so that we may give birth again to an art where emotion wins over concept and where all the technologic prostheses that have taken from art the direct, sensitive emotional participation may be eliminated: may this be the dying horse of Picasso’s Guernica or the green violinist of Chagall, the black burnings of Burri or Fontana’s Cut….
- Hence you want to return to pure painting, drawing, sculpture… not following a fashion, but creating a fashion. “I do not represent what I looked for, but what I have found!” proclaimed Picasso
- A new thinking cannot be but universal, global, expressed through original and authentic cultural elements. The greatest and best awareness in the imitative process must valorize the particular in relation to the universal. The risk of homologous production without wisdom is borne out in fact from being attracted not by what interests us but what has already had success, or better from what someone has decided should have success… It is a perverse and unfortunate logic because it is less ethical than a marketing campaign. Some people sit in judgment and cause confusion, and therefore the drifting and subsequent death of art. Worse than Hegel’s catastrophic aesthetic vision. We have gone well beyond it! Hegel spoke of a ‘Romanticism” already unable to express the inner life of the spirit, and on the way to dissolve itself in subjective forms of irony, of individual sarcasm… Do you remember his Lessons of Aesthetics? The work of art is considered the product of individual genius that reveals the collective spirit of a people and of a civilization… Beauty is subordinate to truth, and to its inadequate ability to express the totality of the Absolute, it determines the “death of Art” or better its dissolution in religion and in philosophy, as if it were a “thing of the past’.
In one of your writing of 1992, you sought and found a lyrical tone. You first “rejected the continuous and noxious” research of your “immature youthful fantasies” and then also Warhol and De Dominicis. Even though the latters had met with success, you found them negating your arcane and holy aesthetic ideals. Therefore you wrote an un-interrupted emotional manifesto that caressed or picked the ancestral chords and language of poetry…
In my early paintings, I repeat, surfaced a humanist and emotional thought: this phase represented both my rejection and my angst for the drifting away of art and of contemporary thought, that should necessarily be reborn on a human, social and emotional plane. You must be referring to that almost poetic prose of mine… fast and visionary, lucid but worried that dates back to over fifteen years ago.
“In my exploration I will sow the dust of time to reap the fragments of memories and I will feel pity for the suffering that hides in the folds of the matter. I will fly faster to find a village of emotions, until I reach the house of reason that today is entrusted to poetry. In this absurd journey, there will be no horizons, you will not see life, but only residuals of time, hidden in the abyss of memory and distributed on the infinite and unexplored territories of fantasy. Territories made of dramatic or playful matter, of biological and tectonic structures more changeable than my thoughts, that will spread still with great energy in my painting so desirous of new spaces…”
This was the period of the “Vertigos and Memories”: works like “Totem and Robot”, “Water Roots”, “Design and Acid”, “Corners of Memory”, “The insect… the Amber”, “Echoes into the Abyss”, grand oil on canvases that really evoked and launched echoes of the soul, wise and neo-human (never post-human!), an S.O.S. on the edge of the post-modern cliff, on the edge of the abyss of life…. The absurd journey to safety fortunately continues. The residuals of time confront us and measure us. My art was and remains dramatic and playful, obsesses with approach and use of the matter that men are made of and that transubstantiates us into divinity. The new spaces are above all those of the Self.
How do you, then, try to concretely avoid de-humanization? With the impact and provocation of your work? And most of all, how do you see emerging in your painterly work your neo-humanist thought? Where do you obey to emotions and where do you follow thought? Or do you perhaps avoid both in name of a greater creative freedom?
My painterly gesture is a mixture of both reason and casual occurrences, of rationality and irrationality, of matter and spirit that are always inside of us. Rhythmic execution obeys both to emotion and to reason. In my current production I intend to represent a sensation of sidereal (galactic) ice, of desolation observed by Life. The humanist thought that represents the conceptual thought and expresses it in all its emotional and vital nudity. As if those, these [sic] visions were meant only for archeologists of the future or envisioned by an absent viewer, perhaps both surprised and dramatically emotional, or alarmed with enthusiasm.
The work becomes the viewers’ essence at the end of time… the human imagining spirit only to find spirituality. My work is a universal icon; it is a another dramatic image that belongs to every diversity – therefore neutralist… As if organictechnologic remains and strange elements of who knows what worlds were to be rediscovered by infinite human spiritualities; they are remains, framed and engulfed in and by matter meant to evoke a reaction to the unnatural, to stimulate contemporary thought to recuperate that balance between reason and nature.
My explorative emotion of artist-archeologist re-reads the whole past alongside the future, a great rotating journey, an oxymoron of ice and fire, where reason and spirituality witness the absence of time, of space, of any directional references. In my compositions I give shape to the unformed and to the logic of casualty, instinct and reason together represent the absence to invoke presence, life and its rooted, I would say stone like, humanist values.
You speak of sidereal emotions and of archeological remains of a past that is still to come, a past projected into the future. The concept of such remains places the viewers in uncertainty, forcing them to ask which evolution, which future has led to these organic-technologic fossils? And therefore to ask whether this evolution contained already in its seed an end that nature has eaten and fossilized to then start on another path. A path that exists then only as a possibility between work and spectator… in your opinion, is it possible perhaps to see in these fossils the dominion of nature that in its neutrality annuls the directions of reasons? Is this what the sidereal cold wants to communicate?
The strata of matter that have accumulated and will continue to accumulate in the millennia through natural events will guard the memories of time. In the “Neutralist” pages of this immense natural, universal volume without any temporal or spatial directions, full of memories, one can perceive the inhuman traces of the conceptual, calculating thought, devoid of emotions, or any human sensibility. In these images we re-discover fragments of reasons or hybrid errors of reflexive monsters, in these sidereal scenes we can glimpse fossilized forms of manipulated nature, therefore unnatural, with zero functionality or directional projection, like a blocked vortex, the natural and Neutralist seed is hibernated and suspended between work and viewer, it remains waiting for a new human warmth that will represent the vital and necessary breath to regenerate and restart the life of art and of the neo-humanist thinking, that needs to be grounded on logic and casualty, as well as on spirituality. It is to be re-built on the pilasters of emotions.
Which are the roots that will take on, which branches will grow/ from these ruins of stone?
Edited by Liliana Leopardi, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Department of Art Chapman University
One University Drive - Orange, CA 92866 - 714.997.6869
|| “I rami che crescono / da queste macerie di pietra”: La sfida di un artista al mondo dell’arte…
Intervista a Francesco Perilli
“Io sono concreto, (…) la libertà è fondamentale ma non necessaria alla creazione (…) odio le performances, la mera ricerca che porta al gesto ma manca della sapienza del fare, del passato che si proietta nel futuro”… Così, con frasi pregnanti di significato, succinte ma profonde, volutamente polemiche, inizia la sfida di un artista al mondo dell’arte contemporanea autoreferente e auto-compiacente. Una sfida che porta alla concezione pittorica di un movimento che lui stesso battezza Neutralismo. Ma può un artista italiano, di un paese di provincia, Nereto (Teramo), di una regione, l’Abruzzo, che pochi americani conoscono, far sentire il suo appello accorato all’intero mondo? Eppure le sue opere nel mondo ci sono già, e in quasi tutti i continenti: dall’Italia alla Bosnia, dalla Cina all’Australia, al Sud-Africa, al Canada, e ora anche negli USA, a Los Angeles. Potranno quindi, i suoi fossili di un futuro già passato, parlare al futuro anche dell’arte a venire?… Lo incontro a Nereto, nel suo paese, nel suo studio operoso, eternamente avvolto da una leggera nuvola di fumo che emana dal sigaro toscano sempre acceso. È circondato dalle sue ricerche, dalle sue opere, ed arrivo per raccogliere e testimoniare il suo pensiero, per tradurlo in inglese, donarlo a un pubblico che egli non ha mai incontrato ma solo immaginato, profetizzato.
- Francesco, il disagio verso il mondo dell’arte contemporanea traspare da qualsiasi saggio critico recente. Anche dalle recensioni dell’ultima Biennale Whitney: perché allora non iniziamo dalla tua concezione “biologica” dell’arte, dal tuo dire che l’arte è quasi un’ontologia del corpo umano? Cos’è l’Arte per te?
- Un’opera d’arte è autentica quando il risultato corrisponde o si avvicina all’intenzione dell’artista… Ma contesto decisamente l’equivoco che tutto possa essere arte: se tutto può diventare arte, allora, al contempo, niente sarà arte! La vera opera d’arte potrebbe forse essere comparata a un organismo vivente di sana costituzione; e come il nostro corpo ha bisogno di tante sostanze: acqua, calcio, ferro, potassio, glucosio, magnesio, vitamine, proteine etc. Sostanze vitali che ci sono tutte necessarie, e nella giusta, equilibrata quantità. Così l’arte abbisogna di conoscenza, talento, tecnica, abilità, manualità, istinto, casualità, fantasia, creatività, pensiero, carattere, sensibilità, emozione, espressività, originalità… Quando anche solo alcuni di questi elementi sono carenti o perfino eccessivi, si
scompensa l’esito, l’impatto e la valenza del gesto artistico.
-In che modo, dunque vedi queste qualità mancare nel contemporaneo o nell’arte che ci ha portato al contemporaneo?
- Un piccolo-grande esempio concreto, per rapportarci ad opere che incontrano e hanno incontrato il pieno consenso della Modernità. Guardando alla Pop Art, mi viene da dire che essa troppo spesso manca della parte emozionale del suo autore, così come della specifica abilità realizzativa: risulta invece preponderante l’aspetto – l’uso – comunicativo di massa… Ricordi le intuizioni di un critico come Giulio Carlo Argan, giunto alla fine del suo studio sull’Arte Moderna? “La Pop-Art segna il punto d’arrivo del processo di degradazione e dissoluzione dell’oggetto in quanto termine individuato di un dualismo conoscitivo, di cui l’altro termine è il soggetto, la persona; ovviamente è anche la degradazione o la dissoluzione della persona come soggetto, la cui fondamentale attività di pensiero consiste nel porre le cose come altre da sé, oggetti”… Argan amava riferirsi in particolare a talenti come Lichtenstein, e soprattutto Andy Warhol: “Il suo versante è quello dell’obsolescenza, il processo di assorbimento e dissolvimento della notizia nella psicologia di massa”… Assorbimento e dissolvimento… Ed è questa una deriva – neanche troppo felice, seppure baciata da un vastissimo, inquieto successo, in pieno, tirannico Consumismo – che rischia di allontanarci definitivamente dal vero porto della creatività, dal vero approdo del gesto artistico… La Pop Art è infatti un’arte facile da produrre per chiunque abbia uno spiccato senso di comunicazione! Le tecniche utilizzate sono alla portata di tutti – e finisce per imporsi più come trovata pubblicitaria, performance epocale, concettuale, che vero frutto artistico. Non è l’arte che deve bloccare, calamitare il pensiero per adeguarlo a una cultura popolare che si occupa di tutt’altro, ma è la cultura popolare che deve sforzarsi di crescere per elevare la propria conoscenza e il proprio inopinato, insondabile livello estetico.
- Istinto o pensiero? O forse occorrono entrambi? Sono in tanti a notare l’appiattimento dell’esperimento artistico contemporaneo, spesso la sua banalità: tanto che anche l’ultima Biennale di Venezia è risultata essere didattica, anzi didascalica, ma non tutti hanno messo il dito sull’emozione… Ecco, che tipo di emozione l’arte mira a suscitare?
- L’istinto e il pensiero, si sa, sono sempre in conflitto – e nel caso dell’espressionismo astratto americano (ad esempio il grande Pollock), il pensiero è iniziale ed appartiene ad altri, perfino a tutti, mentre all’artista rimane la totale libertà di azione. È un’arte partecipata sul piano emotivo dall’autore, ma anche dal fruitore, che ne registrerà, rivivrà fortissime emozioni: lo strato sotterraneo dell’inconscio, coinvolto nel ritmo dell’action painting… Quasi paragonerei Jackson Pollock a un grande direttore d’orchestra, la cui arte risulterà la più musicale, espressiva e armonica della nostra Modernità – nonostante il grande travaglio formale – e in cui tutte le componenti culturali trasudano e si accendono mimando il più significativo, lirico e innovativo linguaggio universale. Con lui l’equilibrio espressivo addomestica e sorveglia il rischio e la voglia stessa di un’arte totalmente nuova
-L’arte muore quando impazzisce l’equilibrio tra le sue componenti, il paradigma dei suoi fini. L’Espressionismo Astratto dimostra che l’istinto collegato alla sensibilità e all’emozione, può essere sufficiente per la completezza di un’opera d’arte – nonostante la fucina di linguaggi e la trasgressione permanente cui ci obbliga la Modernità. Al contrario, il pensiero senza la dote emotiva e la partecipazione diretta, sofferta o desiderante dell’artista, priva l’opera della componente “umanistica” fondamentale per l’integrazione, lo svolgimento e l’acquisizione del puro gesto artistico.
- È dunque per questo che contesti e rigetti gran parte della “nuova” artecontemporanea?
- Si è finito per immaginare, teorizzare, che l’Arte possa essere un ricettacolo, un contenitore dinamico poliespressivo dove poter introdurre, parcheggiare o riporre ogni sorta di bizzarria… Ecco, la contemporaneità ha privilegiato il concetto rispetto all’emozione, e ciò ha disumanizzato l’arte contemporanea. Le nuove protesi (così proprio vorrei chiamarle!) tecniche o tecnologiche, esterne all’abilità degli autori, alla partecipazione fisica ed emozionale, hanno distrutto, fuorviato il gesto e il rito della creazione. Ti leggo uno splendido passo dal diario di Paul Klee, risalente addirittura al 1905, oltre un secolo fa! “Comincio logicamente dal caos, com’è naturale. Sono tranquillo perché posso cominciare con l’essere caos io stesso. Quest’è la mano materna della natura. Tuttavia davanti alla tela bianca sto spesso con tremore e titubanza. Poi mi riscuoto e mi avvio per la stretta via di rappresentazioni lineari”… La mano materna della natura… Con tremore e titubanza… E invece, oggi, il caos non è più proficuo, propedeutico, tesaurizzante! Non è più stretta via… Al posto della mano, del gesto, lacerante o carezzevole, mere protesi! Mi riferisco agli assemblaggi, foto video, costumi, design, performances, installazioni, dove l’autore diviene regista o architetto di stravaganze piene di chiacchiere, che hanno inventato milioni di “artisti” epigoni del Nulla…
Siamo infatti all’inesauribile omologazione dell’Avanguardia! Ma avanguardia di che, di cosa? L’Avanguardia dovrebbe essere agli inizi, e non può diventare ‘accademia di se stessa… L’Arte “arriva a un deserto” – diceva Malevic nel 1915 col suo Manifesto del Suprematismo – “dove nulla è riconoscibile, eccetto la sensibilità”. E aveva un senso ai tempi del suo provocatorio Quadrato nero su sfondo bianco… Ma oggi il deserto concettuale è pullulante di ipermercati, di uffici, di abitazioni tecnologiche, un’intera Manhattan di grattacieli. E la sensibilità finisce rottamata, o verticalizzata in vetrocemento. È la deriva dell’arte e tutto questo a mio parere va riazzerato per rinascere con un’arte dove l’emozione prevalga sul concetto, e dove vengano espiantate tutte le protesi tecniche che hanno tolto all’arte la partecipazione emotiva, sensibile, diretta: sia essa il cavallo morente, picassiano di Guernica o il violinista verde di Chagall, i neri combusti di Burri o il taglio di Fontana…
- Allora tornare alla pittura, al disegno, alla scultura… Non seguire la moda ma creare la moda! “Io non rappresento ciò che ho cercato, ma ciò che ho trovato!” proclamava Picasso…
- Il pensiero nuovo, inoltre, non può che essere universale, globale, espresso dalle originali ed autentiche particolarità culturali. La maggiore e migliore consapevolezza del processo imitativo deve portare a valorizzare la particolarità in correlazione all’universalità. Il rischio dell’omologazione dissennata, modaiola, deriva infatti dal fatto di essere attratti non da ciò che ci interessa, ma da ciò che ha avuto successo, o meglio da ciò che qualcuno ha deciso che abbia successo… Logica perversa, sciagurata, perché ha meno etica di un’operazione di marketing… Veramente costoro sentenziano e provocano la confusione, la deriva e la conseguente morte dell’arte. Altro che visione estetico catastrofista di Hegel! Siamo andati ben oltre! Hegel paventava un’arte “romantica” ormai inadeguata ad esprimere l’interiorità dello spirito, ed avviata a dissolversi in forme di ironia soggettivistica, sarcasmo individualistico… Ricordi le sue Lezioni di estetica? L’opera d’arte è considerata prodotto individuale del genio ma rivela lo spirito collettivo di un popolo e di una civiltà… Il bello è subordinato al vero, e la sua inadeguatezza a esprimere ormai la totalità dell’Assoluto, determina la “morte dell’arte”, o meglio la sua dissoluzione, in quanto “cosa del passato”, nella religione e nella filosofia…
- In un tuo scritto del ’92, cercavi e trovavi un tono squisitamente lirico. Dopo il “rigetto continuo e nauseante” sia delle tue “acerbe fantasie giovanili”, che delle opere postmoderne, che so?, di Warhol o De Dominicis, baciate da un indubbio successo ma in fondo rinunciatarie verso tutti i tuoi arcani, sacrosanti ideali estetici stilavi un ininterrotto manifesto emotivo che accarezzava o pizzicava le corde e il linguaggio ancestrali della poesia…
- Nella mia pittura, ripeto, emerge un pensiero umanistico e partecipato: esso in questa fase sta a rappresentare insieme la mia denuncia e tutta la mia angoscia per la deriva dell’arte e del pensiero contemporaneo, che necessariamente dovrà rinascere sul piano umano, sociale e dei sentimenti. Ti riferivi a quella mia prosa quasi poetica, accelerata e visionaria, lucida ma inquieta, di oltre quindici anni fa:
“…Nel mio esplorare seminerò la polvere del tempo per raccogliere frammenti di memorie e per le sofferenze che si celano tra le pieghe della materia proverò pietà. Volerò più in fretta a cercare il villaggio dei sentimenti, fino alla casa delle ragioni, che oggi è affidata alla poesia. In questo assurdo viaggio, non vi sono orizzonti, non s’intravede la vita, ma residui del tempo, calati negli abissi della memoria e distribuiti sugli infiniti e inesplorati territori della fantasia, fatti di materie a volte drammatiche e a volte ludiche, di strutture biologiche e tettoniche mutevoli più dei miei pensieri, che dilagheranno ancora con grande energia sulla mia pittura che brama nuovi spazi”…
Era anche il periodo, e i prodromi, delle “Vertigini e Memorie”: opere come “Totem e robot”, “Radici d’acqua”, “Il design e l’acido”, “Alvei della memoria”, “L’insetto l’ambra”, “Echi nell’abisso”… Grandi olii su tela che davvero evocavano e lanciavano echi d’anima, S.O.S. sapienziali e neoumanisti (non post-umani!!!) sul ciglio del baratro postmoderno, sull’abisso del vivere… L’assurdo viaggio di salvezza per fortuna prosegue. I residui del tempo ci confortano e ci misurano. Drammatica ma anche ludica era e resta la mia arte, ossessionata dall’approccio,
dall’uso della materia che ci impasta uomini, e ci transustanzia divini. E i nuovi spazi sono soprattutto quelli dell’Io.
- In che modo, quindi, cerchi concretamente di evitare la disumanizzazione con l’impatto e la provocazione della tua opera? Ma soprattutto in che modo vedi emergere, rafforzarsi nel tuo lavoro pittorico il tuo forte pensiero neoumanistico? Dove obbedisci alle emozioni e dove segui il pensiero? O ti svincoli magari da entrambi in nome di una più vasta libertà creativa?…
- La mia gestualità pittorica è una miscela di ragione e casualità, razionalità e irrazionalità, materia e spirito, che sono sempre presenti dentro di noi. La ritmica esecutiva ubbidisce all’emozione e alla ragione entrambe. Nella mia produzione attuale ciò che intendo rappresentare è proprio un sentimento di gelo siderale di desolazione guardato dalla vita, il pensiero umanistico che rappresenta il pensiero concettuale e lo esprime in tutta la sua nudità emotiva e vitale. Come se quelle, queste visioni fossero riservate ad archeologi del futuro o visionate dallo spettatore assente, sorpreso e drammaticamente emozionato, allarmato d’entusiasmo .
Divenire essenza spettatrice della fine dei tempi e dell’umano immaginarsi spirito per ritrovare spiritualità. La mia opera è un’icona universale, è l’altra immagine drammatica e appartenente ad ogni diversità – perciò neutralista… Dove residui
organico-tecnologici e strani reperti di chissà quali mondi fossero riscoperti dalle infinite spiritualità e sensibilità umane; reperti incastonati, fagocitati nella e dalle materie atte a suscitare lo sdegno all’innaturalezza, a stimolare il pensiero contemporaneo a recuperare l’equilibrio tra ragione e natura…
La mia emozione esplorante di artista-archeologo rilegge tutto il passato compresente al futuro, in un gran viaggio rotante, ossimorico di gelo e fuoco, dove la ragione e la spiritualità assistono all’assenza del tempo, dello spazio, dei riferimenti direzionali. Nelle mie composizioni do forma all’informe e logica alla casualità, istinto e ragione in concerto a rappresentare l’assenza per invocarne la presenza, la vita e i suoi radicati, rocciosi, direi, valori umanistici.
- Parli di emozioni siderali e di reperti archeologici di un passato ancora futuro, ancora a venire. Il concetto stesso di tali reperti pone chi guarda in uno stato di incertezza, forzandolo a domandarsi quale evoluzione, quale futuro ha portato a tali fossili organico-tecnologici, e quindi se tale evoluzione contenesse anche in se il germe di una fine, che pero’ la natura ha fagocitato, fossilizzato prendendo forse un altra via, che esiste quindi solo come possibilità tra opera e spettatore... econdo te, e’possibile magari vedere in questi fossili, allora il dominio della natura, che nella sua neutralita’ annulla le direzioni della ragione? e’ questo che il freddo siderale vuole anche comunicare?
- Le stratificazioni materiche accumulatesi e che si accumuleranno nei millenni attraverso gli accadimenti naturali, andranno a custodire le memorie di ogni tempo. Nelle pagine “Neutraliste” di questo immenso volume naturale, universale e senza direzioni spaziotemporali, traboccante di memorie , si scorgono le tracce inumane del pensiero concettuale, calcolato, e denudato di emotività, privo di sentimento e di ogni sensibilità umana. In queste immagini si riscoprono frammenti di ragioni o errori ibridanti di mostruosità riflessive, in questi scenari siderali s’intravedono forme di fossilizzazione di nature manipolate, perciò, innaturali, dalle azzerate funzioni e proiezioni direzionali –come in un vortice bloccato, il germe naturale e Neutralista ne è ibernato e sospeso tra opera e spettatore, esso resta in attesa di un nuovo emozionante calore umano che rappresenta il soffio vitale e necessario a rigenerare il riavvio alla vita di un’arte ed un pensiero neoumanista, da rifondare sul terreno della logica, della casualità, e della spiritualità e da riedificare sui pilastri della sensibilità, dell’emozione e dei sentimenti.
Quali sono le radici che s’afferrano, quali i rami che crescono / Da queste macerie di pietra?…
A cura di Liliana Leopardi, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Department of Art Chapman University
One University Drive - Orange, CA 92866 - 714.997.6869
of Lisa Panzera
Materia or material has long defined Italian modern art. While Francesco Perilli resists classification with his enigmatic investigations into the possibilities of material, he is nonetheless part of a rich lineage of artists who have explored the outer possibilities of painting. The concept of materia is of fundamental importance in modern art and holds a particularly significant place in both Italian and American art of the twentieth century. As the title and guiding principle of Umberto Boccioni’s masterpiece Materia (1912), the word points to several lines of thought central to avant-garde thinking of the time and brings to the fore myriad artistic aims. As Flavio Fergonzi has noted, the etymologies of materia (matter), madre (mother), and mano (hand) all derive from the same root and are inextricably linked in Boccioni’s work1. Philosophical understandings of the word matter were heavily influenced by Henri Bergson, who saw all matter as indivisible and interconnected. This more philosophical/scientific preoccupation overlaps with the alchemical notion of prima materia, defined as the first fundamental matter from which all elements are derived, suggesting a universality or common origin in all things. The implications of these three facets of materia - materiality, origins, and gesture - are central to Francesco Perilli’s project and can be similarly traced in the works of numerous seminal figures in the history of modern art.
Physical substance has played a paramount role in Perilli’s work, beginning with his series of bronze sculptures from the early 1990s. In one work indicative of the group - aptly named La nascita della materia (The birth of material) - the twisting forms, reminiscent of an ancient and gnarled olive tree trunk, reveal what seem to be old shoelaces and chunks of bone.
Even more suggestive of human traces and fossilized remains, as well as the stratified layers of earth in which they are discovered, are works from Perilli’s fossilli ibridi (hybrid fossils) series, such as Pleurodictyum problematicum of 2002. In Perilli’s more recent Neutralist works the mixed media surfaces are created from plastic sheets and industrial pigments which he exposes to flame and heat to create pocked and furrowed asteroid-like surfaces which he incises with enigmatic symbols and marks.
Perilli—dissatisfied with much of the terminology assigned to current art practice—has created his own “school” which he calls “Neutralismo” (Neutralism). Perilli characterizes Neutralism as an inquiry into the very issue of materiality, which he pursues through an instinctual and emotional approach. In fact, Perilli eschews the conceptualism of much contemporary art, which he feels is cold and calculated, devoid of emotional participation. He insists on engaging directly in what he terms the “pictorial action.” However, this pictorial action is not meant as performance. Neutralism is a sort of call to arms that rejects what Perilli deems overly performative, ironic and strategic aspects of contemporary art. He considers these aspects of cultural production, as well as contemporary society’s surrender to consumerism, responsible for our disaffection from our own creativity. Central to Perilli’s concept is a form of neo-humanism. Humanism in the Italian Renaissance was characterized by an increasing focus on the secular (as opposed to the divine) and an assertion of individual expression. However, the humanist mindset stood midway between medieval Christian beliefs and modern scientific and philosophical concepts. Perilli similarly seems to take up this position halfway between the worlds of faith and reason. In fact, Perilli describes Neutralism as an embrace of the seemingly oppositional categories reason and chance and the material and the spiritual. In this sense, Neutralism can be seen as a kind of regeneration of an authentic, personal expression that gives form to abstract thought and emotion through pure artistic gesture.
||The intersecting concerns of gesture/materiality/origins were also explored by many American Abstract Expressionist painters. For both Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko the importance of myth and the need to create imagery that corresponded to our shared genesis were intensely felt. An understanding of the use of arcane ciphers inscribed into often heavily pigmented grounds in the early works of these artists deepens our appreciation of Perilli’s relationship to both mak and medium. Rothko gave voice to his interest in the primordial through what he perceived to be universal symbols, derived in part from Surrealist investigations into the subconscious. In his early paintings, biomorphic creatures float amongst elusive signs. The organic forms hover between abstraction and representation. Perilli’s Neutralist compositions, which can be read as close-up views of asteroids and also can be understood as completely nonobjective, similarly straddle the two categories. In fact, rather than being antagonistic terms, the two are intimately related, as Kirk Varnedoe suggests in Pictures of Nothing: “You cannot draw a circle around the mind and say that everything inside the circle is pure creation and everything outside is mere observation. I prefer to roll with the circle: to insist on the constant cycling between representation and abstraction, between drawing forms out of the works and adding new forms to it.”2 Thus, the two work in tandem, rather than in opposition. Pollock’s paintings of the early 1940s also veered between abstraction and representation and were deliberately rough, crude images that contained mysterious markings. The cryptic signs and swirls which are laid down over a ground of colored paint have distinct affinities with the art of the Northwest Indians, as well as to the work of Picasso. As his works progressed, the pigment became more noticeable as a force in itself through its coarser and heavier application. Ultimately, with Pollock’s development of the drip technique, the medium itself became the subject of the work, epitomizing his concern with materia. The tight gestural marks of Perrilli’s recent indagations, as in Neu 6, bear a distinct relationship to those in Pollock’s early painting. The obsessive, ritualistically inscribed symbols are scattered across the globe-like form, creating a sense of intimacy, but also of timelessness. Finally, though, Perilli work’s is a maverick descendant of the material investigations of Italian artists across the 20th centuy. The interest in varied materials and their physical properties, which is recuperated and underscored in the later postwar years by Alberto Burri, occupies yet another point in the thread of materialism leading back from Perilli’s work. Burri’s sewn sacks and rags, burnt plastics, and abraded surfaces create compelling formal qualities. Like Burri, Perilli emphasizes the tactile quality and experimental nature of the materials in his work. Similarly, the polymaterialism of Fontana’s constellations executed in his later years suggest the outer realms one could reach with such explorations, realms overtaken and perhaps transcended by Perilli’s current work - paintings which defy canonical definitions and announce things to come for the 21st century.
1 Flavio Fergonzi, “On the Title of the Painting Materia,” in Laura Mattioli Rossi, ed., Boccioni, Materia: A Futurist Masterpiece and the Avant-garde in Milan and Paris (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2004); p.49.
2 Kirk Varnedoe, Pictures of Nothing: Abtract Art Since Pollock (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006); p.48. Pleurodictyum problematicum of 2002. Lisa Neu 62
Lisa Panzera received a Bachelors degree from Smith College and a doctorate from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her doctoral dissertation is a focused study on the work of Benedetta Cappa Marinetti. She has written numerous essays, exhibition catalogues and reviews, contributing to journals such as Art News and Art in America. Dr. Panzera has taught and lectured extensively at several well-known institutions, including Hunter College and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She has worked in a curatorial capacity for several prominent organizations, including Guild Hall Museum, the Guggenheim Museum and the Fondazione Prada. She is currently Director of McCaffrey Fine Art, New York .