There was an important transitional moment which left a mark in Italian Art in the early 1990s. A line which allowed the painting to back to a central position in the artistic debate; although with aspects which are different and strongly connoted from the identity and generational point of view, it had a great echo and a strong feedback from the critical-theoretical point of view.
In particular, in Milan a pictorial tendency of great strength and originality was consolidated, thanks to the work of some artists who, even though with different sensibilities and formations, began to think again about the theme of the landscape with strongly contemporary connotations.
Among these, a group of artists emerged before the 2000s, more or less attributable to the experience later called by the critics and by the specialized newspapers "l’Officina Milanese", were considered the true pioneers in this sense. In fact, some of the artists who in those years were active in Milan contributed to an important renewal of the pictorial language, leaving a profound mark also on the work of the successive generations. Among these, the painters we present in this exhibition - Aldo Damioli (1952) Giovanni Frangi (1959) and Marco Petrus (1960) - are, for the specificity and consistency of their work, among the most significant exponents of this linguistic and theoretical renewal.
The main theme of their work is the reasoning on the landscape, in line with the more general redefinition of the traditional genres of painting (in particular the genres of landscape and portrait), in a context that perfectly interfaced with the return and the redefinition of the genre that has permeated the whole postmodern culture of those years.
The reflection on the landscape has been part, moreover, of the more general return of interest to the reasoning on the landscape, on the daily habitat, on the loss of geographical identity of contemporary society, close between global urban redefinition, redevelopment of the suburbs, gentrification, abolition of the sense of “landscape” understood in the traditional sense, thanks to the dematerialization of the borders brought by the Internet and by advanced globalization.
In this sense, the new landscape painting has become one of the most popular themes of Italian artists of the last generations. The Italian artists in recent years have in fact literally reinvented the Italian landscape, with an extraordinary capacity for poetic and symbolic transformation: they created a new contemporary grand tour, which reinterprets the contemporary in the light of our past, with the tools of intellectual, visual and alchemical transformation of the world which is typical of the great painting.
Aldo Damioli has chosen New York as an extreme and highly metaphorical symbol of the contemporary landscape, playing in a fun and unconventional way, through the language of the pictorial tradition of the eighteenth-century vedutismo, one the most striking and stereotypical symbols of the American metropolis. Those of Damioli are precious and seductive New York landscape paintings (but in some cases also Milanese, Parisian or of other European or Asian metropolises) which, on the one hand, seem to have little to do with the chaotic and complex reality of the contemporary metropolises, but, at the same time, they faithfully repeat their structure, the profile and the silhouette. The effect is of strong displacement and Damioli enjoys capturing the viewer among the grids of a perfect pictorial construction. In fact, Damioli is interested in questioning what we are used to seeing daily, and the way we see it. His painting is basically conceptual and it aims to displace the clichés and the stereotypes of the thousand visions of the contemporary world; and to do this, the artist uses the style, a style deliberately not contemporary, which undermines the whole structure of our vision.
The work of Giovanni Frangi on the landscape has been focused for many years on the progressive loss of boundaries, and of a great freedom of color. The representation of the landscape has indeed become, for Frangi, that of the place of loss and that of freedom: loss of boundaries, orientation, sense of space, and freedom to move freely, using only matter and color, along the surface of the painting. Regardless of what Frangi's paintings depict (mountains, woods, lakes or beaches), they are an extraordinary hymn to painting and to his amazing ability to redefine each time his specific language, mixing the references and the different traditions (from informal to figurative) with great freedom and compositional and colouristic refinement, but also to renew and question our personal vision of the world.
The work of Marco Petrus has focused for many years on the urban landscape, and in particular on the Milanese one. The artist’s research aims at an increasingly marked stylization of forms, through a process of constant subtraction of elements from the city chaos, since the artist has constantly removed, taken away, subtracted from the real landscape of contemporary Milan: thus coming to represent only what was necessary: the subtle symbolic structure of which a city is made and of which it feeds day after day. Petrus retraced Milan with the eyes of those who were not interested in getting the individual details, the corners and the perspectives that, in their dry and rigorous solidity, contained the very idea of the city, its most ancient and immutable essence: the corners of the twentieth century buildings, the windows of the Thirties and Forties’ buildings lined up on each other, the escape routes of the ledges of the first Italian skyscrapers, with a work of progressive stylization and objectification of the landscape. A work on the landscape that is essentially a excavation work on the pictorial means and on its capacity of the redefinition of the vision.