A physiognomy of the visible
Francesco Giulio Farachi
The expressive research that led Alessandra Casciotti to this exhibition developed with the tenacity and sensitivity typical of the artist’s work. I am aware of the fact that some find it not appropriate to use the term “work” referring to the work of an artist. But in this specific case I find it most appropriate, because in Casciotti, more than in many others, the inspirational and poetic aspects have always been scrupulously accompanied by a discipline of experimentation, not only from a technical point of view, but also and above all personal and human. This means that in her paintings it is clear the intention and the attention to transfer, in addition to the rigor of an instruction of the pictorial element and of the representation, also the conscience of an order of things that must be known to be interpreted.
specially since the painting of Casciotti is a “meaningful” one, one in which visual representation is never an end in itself, even in the smallest detail, but it constitutionally implies the reference to a sense, a reason, a further quality. To be even clearer, the symbolic characters are not only intrinsic (as in any work of art, since every work of art in itself expresses a plus-value, a value / meaning above and more, compared to pure and simple matter or representation), but they are themselves fulcrum, external appearance and subject-object of each painting. Which would easily bring this expressive lexicon to that of symbolist painters.
Too easily …
In fact, in Casciotti we find missing almost all those atmospheres of dumbfounded and dreamy, liquid, from “derailment of the senses”, and those distances of incommunicability, of non-sense, of dumb psychism that are instead distinctive of symbolists artists (as well as surrealists and metaphysicians, who are in many ways next to them).
The painter, for her part, instead carves out a world of references, it is true, sometimes fascinating, hidden, sometimes erudite, sapiential, but immediately identifiable, always correlated to principles and feelings well defined and recognized that she wants to express and share. This is why it is dear to her, and is a constant of her pictorial horizon, the surface of myth and antiquity, because it is a visionary transposition of the human present and its founding categories, because it is a reality that implies the effort of knowledge, which does not deny the mystery and the ineffable, but uses them as instruments also of human experience and growth.
Also visually then, the painting has an aesthetic imprint that is invariably an open code, devoid of superstructures, free to accommodate lights and chromatic tensions, limpid in modular geometries and optical planes. It is clearly perceived that such ease of reading does not close in itself, but, precisely because it is so, pervades and echoes the concrete contents of the allegorical imaginary.
If every work is therefore also from a technical-formal point of view allusion and metaphor, reference to a more complex nature of things, of the characters, of the emotional moments portrayed, at the same time, the succession and intersection of the orders of perception pursues a clarifying intent, of understanding, of unveiling and exemplifying the contents.
These symbols of Casciotti are more than anything else emblems, that do not hide but declare.
In the works that are directly inspired by myth and tradition, from the first ones up to the most recent ones (I think therefore of Amore Trionfante, Orphic Enchantment, to the complex classical composition of Espressioni dell’Arte, and again to L’Autunno e La Primavera, that complete the cycle of Le stagioni) the figuration is gathered in an impression of prevalent two-dimensionality, within a lightness of impalpable corporeity, where masses, volumes and perspectives are marked only in the definition of light and dark and chromatic veiling, leaving it to the backgrounds, around the essence of bodies and objects, primarily to represent the meaning of the symbolic reference, and where light is modelled pure and clear.
It is therefore a light that illuminates life and interiority, it is intuition of the existent, spirituality of beauty and harmony that Alessandra Casciotti pushes to probe for herself and for the observer. And it is the same light, the same energetic and elliptical tension that acts in abstract works or where the figural element becomes an explanatory component of an immaterial and conceptual pattern (for example, see Ciclicitá delle vita or, in the second case, Opportunitá).
It is not felt, and there is not, therefore a hiatus between the figurative and abstract-geometric paintings. Mainly, because it is not possible for the latter to assert a total aniconicity of the image; there remains the suggestion of a representation, the implication of a form not only sublimated and fantastic, yet always relevant to the concrete reality. Conversely, in figurative production, sometimes a close realistic association between the subjects is absent, and the composition is instead balanced on a game of logical abstraction that is also rendered luministic and visual: it is the case of paintings such as Le Metamorfosi , o Tyche, or the aforementioned Amore Trionfante, of all those paintings, that is, where there is no or maybe a latent, binder of a description / narration or of a true setting / contextualisation and where the figure stands out as a practically absolute flash of color and form; or again as, for example, in the paintings La luce del Mito or, again, Incanto Orfico, in which architectures and scenographies give the eye the psychic rhythm of a geometric and modular scan.
As we can see then, the natural form and mental form, the instinctive force of representation and the artifice of color, always live in simultaneity in the artist’s imaginative models. However, it is above all the poetic process that is identical and coherent in all the painter’s works. The image is made through the lyrical and volitive synthesis of idea and vision, balancing the reality of color and surface with the immateriality of values, feelings and meanings. But then it’s a magical crossroads. The physicality of the canvas and of the pigments welcomes, and becomes itself, the intangible consistency of the fantastic projection, of art, of beauty; simultaneously the ideals and passions take shape as dense layers of the backgrounds, in translating the substance of the viscous and saturated oils. Figure or non-figure, geometric or ornate, is not only a matter of the same hand and the same style, but each painting by Alessandra Casciotti emerges from the same universe of paradigmatic correspondences between invention and reality, to invade the gaze beyond the canvas.
For this reason, in the current exhibition, the presence of paintings that are both varied from a thematic and formal point of view is designed for a specific reason, not to return a merely inventory collection of the artist’s production, but to prepare a stasis of connected visions, to almost cancel the perception of a fragmented sequence, but rather so that the overall sensation of a creative process emerges and remains, which, through the filter of pictorial work and meticulous formal research, distills emotions, memory, thought and fascination. All these paintings possess a common soul, which is that of the concept that sustains them.
The conviction that an idea can have a consequence on the way in which the world appears, is transposed into a physiognomy of the visible and leaves us the stupefied ardor of grasping its traits: it recovers for the artist, and for all of us who observe, a dimension of physical and sensory relationship with aspects of intimate and powerful humanity. And it is perhaps because of this “instinctual intention” of Casciotti to feel and make others feel affinity and meaning, that all these paintings, even those more controlled by geometrical structures and optical recombinations, are filled by a sort of fluid eroticism, a conscience and desire for beauty that the artist doses with a completely feminine sensibility. So that it is not so much or only for the soft sensuality of nudes, for example, nor for the warm compactness of the chromatic textures, it is not in general for the seductive mannerisms of the representation … but, observe, these works inhabit the wall and grant a confidence with the ability to grant loss of the sense of time and space, they hide and immediately reveal their secrets, just like in a game of lovers.
One just needs to let go of this contemplative and liberating seduction to understand the approach that Alessandra Casciotti has with her works: a relationship of mutual abandonment to emotions and sensations that the artist transfers to the canvas, and which the canvas gives back to the artist.
It is a way of articulating and sublimating what is a spontaneous process in every human being, creating one’s own concepts and one’s own mental image of the world. Process that in the artist becomes the delineation of personifications and orders through which one’s own physical and psychic experience, and the mystery and charm in them, are formed in an harmonious vision; and vision that in turn then becomes a work, a tangible and incontrovertible surface with the outside world, with the otherness of the observer, with the instability of his ego that changes and grows with time.
Hence the title – Forma mentis – which of this exhibition immediately declares the complex unity, the identification, in the work of time and according to the strengthening of the principles, of a distinctive character, of a way of conceiving and being in the world, with in addition the flattery of meeting this personality of living in the imaginative invention of pictorial matter. Alessandra Casciotti, with her world of meanings and archetypes, with her ideal references of beauty and truth, with her own flow, sensation and action, in the explosion of her colors, makes art a manifestation, both passionate and reasoned, of perfect freedom, in which to imply, in which to ascertaining our own imagination, our own reality.