CPT centro di permanenza temporaneo
Vernissage, 12.10.2016 at 19:00
13.10 – 25.11.2016
Text: Nicola Samorì
Rudy Cremonini is a vertical painter.
Vertical painters are painters who are on close terms with gravity because they expose themselves to a limit that only a force of nature can overcome. Since Apelles depicted a horse frothing at the mouth, painting has been avid for natural forces and decisive animal gestures. Thus, Cremonini seems to think, if petals cannot be painted on their own, at least the stem should be generated by an exact spontaneous force. Hence, as soon as the pigment wears thin, the stems of his flowers, the legs of his flamingos and the branches of his willow trees push downwards to interrupt a flow, that may be either lazy or very fast.
Before Cremonini, Cy Twombly too was a vertical painter, conscious of weight and capable of dulling informal gesture with less violent falling, later filtered by Mario Schifano and reduced to a stutter in the teardrops of the milky white veil painted by Gino De Dominicis in 1988.
Insofar as it risks killing it and transforming it into pure effect, gravity is a highly dangerous force in painting too. We have learned how captivating the non-finite can be, how easy it is to seduce the eye with drops and splashes and spots. One of the greatest efforts in painting is to act in a state of necessity, while still maintaining control; only through this kind of discipline can imperfections turn into capital. Cremonini is aware of the dangers of standing on this cusp: in this balancing act what falls is the painting, never the painter.
The arabesque, instead, is a healthy stratagem for muddling things up, as many of the works on show demonstrate. Only well-trained decorators are acquainted with the automatism of curves, repetitions and pauses, to the extent that, on account of their craft, they almost work like machines. Rudy could never and would never do this as he lacks the patience and an interest in decoration.
In CPT, for example, the pattern of the metal begins with the best intentions, but in the process of modular repetition we witness a move away from the rule. The loss of wrist rhythm brings to mind a small drawing by Rachel Whiteread, Herringbone Floor (2001); here, as the sculptress seeks to reproduce the motif of a herringbone parquet floor in ink, she progressively loses precision, block by block. And this loss of rhythm causes her to stumble. Gestural degeneration is one of the most compelling features of Cremonini’s railings: the artist naturally gifted with a spontaneous brushstroke urgently needs a barrier, and Cremonini finds it in the module and the ornamental motifs of the iron in a repetition that loses meaning, just as sounds do when they become a mantra. These pictures also have the immediacy of a Raul Dufy, a painter I can’t bear, freed from coquetry and enhanced by magnificent cadences.
It is difficult to understand whether the railings are an obstacle to vision or are the vision itself. What we glimpse through them seems to be of no interest to the painter; it is rather what interferes with our discernment of it that draws his gaze. Like spectacle frames, the only thing visible between the eye and the world, or like a picture frame, too grand for paintings born naked. In this interplay, what advances towards the eyes is painted subsequently, with the railings challenging the retina to oscillate between ornament and landscape.
Only in one case—Grip—is it impossible to see anything through the railing, the innervated metal merging into the background as in one of Paul Cézanne Saint-Victoires. In L’invito (The Invitation), after pausing before touching the background ferment, the artist removes the action with the impulsivity of a knife-slash.
In Passaggio (Passage), a sign not open to second thoughts rests on the damp matter, almost as if it were an exercise in oriental calligraphy. In Pomeriggio d’estate (Summer Afternoon), the same concentration and action prudently enter the pale body of an interior. Here iron and flora fuse as one.
The Greenhouse is different again: here green survives in the memory as a substance that only restoration or imagination can give us back, a layer of white invading the first level and annulling the green that lives on in the title, suffocating it with protection. The result is involuntary depth, evidence of a burial, the clue to a restless body that is resurfacing. This is a property that photographic reproduction fails to reveal (save in the case of the low-light approach), but that seeing the work first-hand brings to the fore. Hence, during my visit to Rudy’s studio, I was soon able to uncover these whitened sepulchres. Yes, because Cremonini ‘whitens’ supposed failures with freshness—and frankness—attacking them straight off with new work. Exemplary in this respect is Monster 2, painted in 2015, which has since been followed by many other Monsters in the form of instinctive assemblages that reproduce like cells at the speed of thought: ‘extraneous elements in a limited context,’ is how Cremonini describes them. These inventions progressively detach themselves from the subject (in Monster 2 foliage is still something the eyes can see) and become blind nature, unseen but perhaps remembered. The multiplication of the subject is also a strategy for stressing indifference thereto, insofar as saying one thing many times over hides the desire to erase it.
For Rudy Cremonini’s painting is indifferent and substantial, in revolt against the very title of the show, CPT - centro di permanenza temporanea (Centre of Temporary Permanence), which suggests an eye open to social affairs, whereas all the paintings speak to us of guests and prisoners that combine to form a complex self-portrait of the artist, multiplied among greenhouses and amniotic fluids, showcases and railings.
Almost all the works assert a fascination with the fresh and the fleeting that we find also in other segments of Cremonini’s experimentation; for example, the numerous faces that open like flowers, losing petals/brushstrokes and fixing the moment in which the image achieves full bloom (his portraits are always flowering/fading). This condition induces reticence towards—maybe a rejection of—stratified painting that accumulates over time, since there is little in art that smells as much as academic excess. My sensation is that Rudy Cremonini would like to watch a work completing itself automatically, leaving an active role only to the painter’s eyes. I imagine these pictures, stripped of any frills, as being spawned by The Death of Sardanapalus, which Delacroix depicted with intense pleasure and contempt for decoration. After all, Cremonini’s painting is, among other things, a compendium of pleasures.
To understand that the painting of another Bologna artist, Giorgio Morandi, is not simple, you have to glue your eyes to the canvas and scan the wormy trails left by the dry brush. Whereas Rudy Cremonini’s work declares itself metres way, as if a very strong lens had been brought close up to a desire.