Antonio Possenti

Antonio Possenti - review

Elsewhere and other Orients

" It is difficult that before the work of an artist an eye trained by profession, is able to overcome the temptation to resort to his skills to coldly recognise the models, evolu- t[ons, phases, influences, that is all those elements which make it possible to immediately determine its critical position. To grasp the essence of Possenti's art as a whole from the various manifestations he has offered us, means listening to a tale which still enchants us, a tale whispered in a lowered voice between one silence and another; a tale whose history we wilt nor recall, and we will not he able to know that the history exists, but we listen... we listen to the flow of the never before heard melodies that compose it.

Possenti is an extraordinary man and painter: very gentle, full of ideas, and an incomparable inventor for himself and others. Possenti is the delicate poet of surrealism which has been ignored until now. He lives in an incorrupt and unattainable world, in a daily and affectionate metaphysical dimension.
One of the jobs of art (in particular surrealist art) is not to represent that which is outside, hut the part of reality which is buried in us. Possenti has revealed this. In art there is room for a ghost, a desire, an instant of happiness or terror, a joy, a torment. Long before surrealism Goya and Füssli provided the monsters and nightmares that came from this. Others the desires and joys.
In Possenti, instead, I see a festive Goya, if not a happy one, with the same impalpable and liquid touch, but without the drama and anguish, without the reasons of a history that is so urgent, and having a calmer inclination to faity-tale, as a safe territory, an escape, but also without too many illusions.

Not the dream, in Possenti, but the invention of the dream: that which makes it separate and naturally new even in comparison to the masters he has looked at the most.
An ideal son of Gauguin (but also of Matisse, Klee, Ensor, Ernst, the great Arab miniatures), Possenti is a very cultured painter of "Elsewhere".
Not objective reality, not the purely linguistic research of the Avant-garde, but imagination is the explorative field of his paintings, in a tradition which, in Italy, dates hack to Savinio, Usellini, Clerici, and more recently to Pompa, Armodio and Foppiani. But I do not know how useful the identification of a common tradition is for giving us a clear picture of Possenti's very unique painting. One could say, for example, that Possenti's surrealism has a profound narrative character, not found in other surrealists.
Unlike Armodio, the antithesis of narration, who creates visions petrified over the time and space of eternity, and desires the universality of the metaphysics off De Chirico or Morandi, Possenti instead tells free, vivacious, very moving stories of the Elsewhere.

He does not care if these stories are descriptions of unquestionable realities, as they answer more intimate values, the pleasure of imaginary creation, the gusto of fairy tales, the game of reinventing a different world, the extreme opposite of rationality, predictability, and seriousness of the "true" world. Like Gauguin, like Rimbaud, evoked in a delightful painting able to transfigure the dramatic power of an event near its end ( a stay at the Marseilles hospital), Possenti searches for his "Orient", his "other" place.

Had he lived in Rimbaud's time, another epoch of explorations and heroic adventurers, probably even Possenti would have searched for an earthly Orient. But today everything that could have been explored already has been, today the mass media give us the visual experience of the most far off lands on a daily basis, today Agadir is not so different from Rimini or Perpignan, the only possible Orient is imagination, unreality, Elsewhere.
There is no surrealism without dream, and there is no dream, from Freud on, that does not mandatorily lead to psychoanalysis. I wonder if things are actually like this of if we have not found ourselves faced with a cliché. Is surrealism all dreams? It is in Dali, Delvaux, Magritte, it is not in Miro, Picasso, Ernst. After all, there are those who dream with their eyes closed and those with them open.
Closed eyed dreaming is the realm of the unconscious, not controlled and calibrated by reason, the imaginary creation aimed at pleasure.

I think Possenti dreams with his eyes open; I think his surrealism painting primarily of imagination and Elsewhere, exists also without historical Surrealism. Maybe by looking at Bruegel, Bosch, Magnasco Romanesque sculpture, Renaissance grotesquerie, Bomarzo, Casa Zuccari arriving at pre-Freudian art found in fairy tales, imaginary myth, the preferred place of the spirit.

Possenti tells, tells of Elsewhere, of an Orient which is not there, but which could have been, good-natured puppets with turbans, sinuous and turgid forms, warm precious colours and esotericisms that one does not know to what point they should be taken seriously. He tells of seas that can enter a house, shrewd fishermen, and fake, exhilarating lighthouses which trick navigators; he tells of magic skies marked with falling stars, woods and gardens which house minor crimes and curious individual virtues in their silence. He loves to tell stories.
Possenti, contrives his expansive images as maps, illustrated paths which specific texts teach us to interpret. Texts which provoke the happy enchantment of nursery rhymes, sometimes oracle-like, like the notes street soothsayers had trained birds distribute, sometimes sweet and assorted like epigrams. Texts like "legends", texts like small legends of a entertaining world where the absurd is the order of the day. "

Vittorio Sgarbi


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