24 November 2010 - 15 January 2011
Antonio Marchetti Lamera_Ombre urbane Mostra itinerante Londra_Vienna_Milano
Antonio Marchetti Lamera_Ombre urbane
Antonio Marchetti Lamera
monday / saturday
Galleria Bianconi - Milano
Antonio Marchetti Lamera is a fraught man even before being a fraught artist. When writing about his only apparently monochrome works in 2003, I stated that: “The artist’s grammar consists of dozens of interacting signs that allude to antiquity, as the offspring of the land where all this is produced.”
Marchetti Lamera’s work cannot be easily forced into the strict pigeonholes of art: abstract, representational, symbolic, monochrome, or whatever. These are works that, over the years, have been through different and yet perfectly consistent experiences: for years the artist has progressed through cycles and studies, bringing out all their diverse aspects through his experiments and refinements, before gracefully moving on. And this is how these recent works have come about: the “shadows” of urban elements gradually take shape in his painting, perfected by the use of metallic colours with iridescent effects that, over time, acquire renewed freshness.
This painting material is the direct result of his studies into sidelight. And it is indeed a successful attempt, enabling forms to emerge from darkness and the void. It is a logical development in which sign and matter form a perfect symbiosis. Marchetti Lamera has a profound insight into the profession of painting, which he combines with the use of a wax pencil, modulating the effects in a stratification of strokes, making it impossible to detect a graphic design thought out in advance: the forms emerge from a sort of magma, rising up to the surface and delicately offering themselves to us. It is precisely this intrinsic ethereality, this sense of the intangible and of the immaterial, that makes Marchetti Lamera’s work so fascinating, and his leitmotif has always been the study of light. It is a light that does not break down the forms but, on the contrary, brings them out in a progression that ranges from white to black, and from negative to positive. This is an inescapable reference to literary sources, from Lucretius – the author of the first poem in which knowledge of the world leads to a dissolution of the compactness of the world itself, with a perception of what is infinitely minute, mobile and light – through to it Italo Calvino and his Lesson on Lightness.
But also to the history of art, to Leonardo da Vinci and his sfumato, which is still to be fully understood in all its great symbolic value: while obscurity was the first degree of shadow, light was the last, and thus the ultimate goal. Shadow is thus nigredo and melancholy, in opposition to light. And so it is for Marchetti Lamera who, ever since the second half of the 1980s, has made shadows one of the fundamental premises for his research in painting, as well as an instrument for a much broader, existential investigation.
This theme – that of shadow – has also been his prime area of studies and exhibitions, which include “Shadows: the Depiction of Cast Shadows in Western Art “, curated by Ernst H. Gombrich (London, National Gallery, 1995); and “D’Ombra”, curated by Lea Vergine (Siena and Nuoro, 2006). It is curious to see how photography plays a key role in both exhibitions, and it is no coincidence that it is indeed from photography that all of Marchetti Lamera’s research stems. He uses a little digital camera, rather like a sort of sketchbook, for his visual annotations, which may be plant elements, as in the past, or urban features as we see today.
In his paintings, these elements intentionally appear on the borderline between the recognisable and the unrecognisable, between revelation and concealment. In this case, the most direct allusion is to Plato’s eidolon, for which shadow is deceit, in so far as it is peculiar to the world of things and thus opposed to the world of ideas, making man himself the protagonist of illusion. Marchetti Lamera is perfectly aware that art cannot lead to truth, and that shadow, which is by its very nature ephemeral, might be adopted as a manifesto of our age, in which everything is of such absurdly short duration with respect to eternity.
Giorgio Manganelli, a great writer and intellectual of the last century, wrote on the subject of shadows in the early 1980s: “The joy of the shadow is solitary, but alludes without irony to presences of elegant deformity; to the inapprehensible spirits triangle, innocent and ready to transfix; to the inapprehensible spirits circle, whose constant embrace is irredeemably fleeting; to the inapprehensible spirits water, which you hear flowing like a river through the night, with its thirst-quenching sound; to the inapprehensible spirits of air, who ignore you, and love you.”
So too are Marchetti Lamera’s shadows: fleeting yet liquid. They do no more than point the way, without describing, without telling stories. They merely suggest, and then disappear from view. Water shadows, air shadows. On the contrary, the paintings of Marchetti Lamera, who is a great speaker, are silent, requiring long meditation and observation. In the artist’s recent works, it is also important to notice the relationship between solid and void, which is that of our very existence. Once again, the allusion is to Leonardo and to his studies of the Moon in the Codex Atlanticus: Marchetti Lamera’s signs appear and then fade from view, becoming traces of their former selves, like dust, as well as formal allusions to the phenomena all around us in their ephemeral semblance. What Marchetti Lamera offers us is a world of eidola. He knows that not even artists can offer real truths, for we are given nothing but reflected visions, and our very existence is an appearance wavering between the lightness and heaviness of our everyday lives.
 A. Madesani, “Avventure del segno”, in Antonio Marchetti Lamera, Andrea Pronto Arte Contemporanea, Crespano del Grappa (TV), 2003, p. 3.  I. Calvino, Lezioni americane. Sei proposte per il prossimo millennio, Garzanti, Milan, 1988, p.10.  G. Manganelli, Discorso dell’ombra e dello stemma o del lettore e dello scrittore considerati come dementi, Rizzoli, Milan, 1982, p. 104.  As Roberto Casati points out in La scoperta dell’ombra. Da Platone a Galileo la storia di un enigma che ha affascinato le grandi menti dell’umanità (Editori Laterza, Bari, 2008, p. 207), Leonardo also had in mind a Book of Shadows, of which only a skeleton draft of 1490 has come down to us.