Riccardo Benvenuti

Riccardo Benvenuti - Life & review

Riccardo Benvenuti was born in Lucca in 1939. He lives and works in Lucca, New York and Los Angeles. At a very early age he came to the attention of the critics, and his work is shown in the most important galleries and museums in Europe and America.
In occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Giacomo Puccini's death and at the request of the Puccini Foundation, he prepared a series of exhibitions dedicated to the Lucchese composer and his heroines at the Lincoln Center Metropolitan in New York, Chicago and Madrid. In collaboration with Salvador Dali he designed the 'Medaglie dell'Augurio'? coined by the Gold Market of Milan.
He has designed posters for the soccer World Cup, the Los Angeles Olympic Games, the boxing world championships and the Giro d'Italia cycle race. Under the auspices of the theatrical museum of La Scala, he has executed an exclusive series of collectors' porcelain entitled "Puccini's women", produced by the Bradford Exchange, Chicago.
In the field of publisbing be has illustrated books for children, including "Gnenco il pirata" by Vincenzo Pardini published by Emme Edizioni Finaudi. Recently Giorgin Mondadori e Associati published a monograph, introduced by Paolo Levi which covers his entire output.

"There are many possible openings into the world of Riccardo Benvenuti's paintings; some of these are more accessible and slightly obvious, whereas others, far more interesting, are less obvious, as if cleverly hidden by the artist.
It would be easy to fall into the trap of speaking about his women, with their tender glances, suggestive or coy. This approach would be too obvious because too exterior, or rather weighed down by that taste for the merely decorative typical of many figurative artists.
that is why it is necessary for the critic to attack the exterior, created by Benvenuti by means of his colours and brushstrokes, in order to understand not so much the motivation behind his paintings, which would be an undertaking of a metaphysical nature, as the strength, the subtle energy, which animates their gestures and which turns the superficial image, however attractive in itself, into a profound and thoughtful living thing.
In Benvenuti's canvases, the owerwhelming impression is of this impulse which comes from the innermost being and is translated a painted figure. breaking free of context and of the iconography which has been part and parcel of this painter for several decades.
The girls. the nymphs. the terrifying Salomes are, seen from this point of view, almost a pretext. a way of saying something else, which Benvenuti as a straightforward Tuscan who dislikes the sophistry of learned language, caIls "beauty". It is a kind of beauty which is basically simple and which he is at pains not to confuse with the kind of beauty which aesthetics deals with, all studied balance and harmonious proportions. Beauty Benvenuti says, first of alI a force which moves and thrills, far removed from the traditional canon which separates the beautiful codified in its perfect forms, from the ugly just as rigidly defined. To be more precise, this means that only in a few rare cases, deliberately chosen from thousands of others, can beauty be described as harmony between the soul and the outward appearance, and it is here and nowhere else that love can be found.
They could just as well be hills, landscapes, interiors of imaginary cathedrals: sometimes Benvenuti has not been afraid to abandon the human fogure for the balance of objects whose light and transparency he conveys. And neither has he been afraid in years past, to brave the storms of the formless and the abstract, achieving worthy results.
And yet his true territory is elsewhere, his single protagonist is woman, set before us in a charming procession, with a renaissance flavour conveyed by hints of veils and drapery, and a parade of glances and beautiful eyes wide open on the canvas.
Once more it is love, according to Benvenuti, that brings them to life, enriched by intelligence and a strong dose of eros, the more ancient type which Plato defined as the principle end the prime motivation of knowledge. This explains the slight sexuality of his girls, who are certainly beauties, suggestive and full of promises, and yet capable of sublimating every earthbound instinct in the rarified atmosphere of pure contemplation and thought.
His tecnique provides a further example, refined and masterful in all its aspects, a technique which uses gesture to purify rather than weigh down and which is translated into a beautiful and evanescent play of light, hints of backgrounds and lightning strokes of primary colours.
The dominant feature in many of his recent works, however, is the darkness of the backgrounds, a kind of screen against which are projected these ghosts of the beautiful and where the dreaming or maliciously witch-like faces of his girls are framed.
Benvenutis' artistry lies in this knowing pretence of the attainable quality of the beautiful, but also ih the exquisite melancholy with which through a scarcely suppressed smile, the hint of a gesture or a background caressed by colour he suggests the impossibility of achieving true love.
It takes a good deal of skin to achieve such balance in composition and design, but most of all soul and a of the world, man and things."

Paolo Levi


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Riccardo Benvenuti

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