Vendoglio, Treppo, Tarcento, the Tagliamento, the Musi; in what
way do these places explain Albino Lucatellos painting?
Places provoke us and provide us with something to relate to:
they give reason and proportion to images and states of consciousness.
Places reveal us to ourselves, and just as we measure them, in
turn they measure us.
Places are not at all indifferent, they have a thousand ways of
filtering through the works of painters, writers and poets: sometimes
they are precisely recognisable, sometimes in their essence, when
this essence meets with a tension which reengages culture
and instinctually, that which we are deep down, and that which
we have become through experience.
Forgive me, but I must be more personal, as this is the only way
that I can explain the key to understanding the works of Lucatello,
that I hold since 1986 when I saw his retrospective
exhibition organised by Venice municipality, at the Bevilacqua
La Masa Gallery. I believe and it will be an arbitrary
affirmation, or maybe inevitable that the artist had found
(precisely in that very same Friuli) what I myself find there,
and continue to find there: a relationship with nature more direct
and more ardent, more original, where the intoxicating perfume
of a maternal sweetness rarely separates from a feeling of obscurity,
panic mystery: even, and not infrequently, from a feeling of underground
fear. In short, a perfect metaphor of life, that enchants, fascinates,
charms: and frightens.
I believe that this is what Lucatello profoundly, physically felt
in the nature of Friuli. This he said and testified, not only
when he moved to Friuli, but right from the beginning. Gradually,
with improved awareness, he used an instrument which at the same
time was both theoretical and stylistic, an instrument which allowed
him to obtain the greatest of results: this instrument was immersion.
In fact, right from the start he eliminated all elements which
were solely narrative.
At the beginning of the 1950s however, there are some figures
and landscapes which seem to contradict this idea of immersion,
some of which are even present at this exhibition in Pordenone.
Particularly the series of coalmen and riceweeders where
the image encamps in the foreground, without any other background
other than itself or, at the most, a minimal element of surroundings:
a table or a glass.
But it is clear to see, even here, that it is not narration, rather
an attempt to immerse oneself in a human condition beyond all
Of course, there is a political intention behind these figures,
but this does not surpass their weight of reality, the same painful
dignity that they are part of, makes them emblems and icons, not
accounts and less than ever didactic accounts.
If we then consider carefully the drawing representing a group
of riceweeders hard at work, we see that Lucatello arranges
the figures here in an amplitude of landscape which welcomes them
into a kind of natural everything. Furthermore, if
we consider the drawing of the wood, we see once again that he
clearly does not want the observer to see a vision, but rather
to stay inside it, not perceive an image of, but an immersion
in and amongst the trees in the wood.
Therefore it will not surprise us at all, that in the series of
the Venetian rooftops and the Vegetable gardens at Portosecco,
Lucatello brings the images of those rooftops and vegetable gardens
closer in a wideangled manner: materialising the light in
articulate, intricate backgrounds of reds, blues, greys, blacks,
or yellows ochre and earths, not worrying at all if they are recognisable,
just careful however that his work expresses a feeling of both
belonging and possession, that is to say, exactly a metaphorical
will of immersion.
Consider that it is not contemplation, it is not ecstasy towards
the world, but action, involvement, the will to become at the
same time as becoming. Moreover this was emphasised by Berto Morucchio
in the catalogue preface for an exhibition in Venice in 1969,
when he cited Rimbaud when referring to the artists attitude
towards reality: We eat air, rock, coal, iron
that some poor man breaks, old stones of churches
To eat, to take possession, to immerge oneself: Lucatello knows
and feels part of nature. He does not believe that this being
nature can be expressed in other ways, if not through the identification,
obtained by the painter, through the chromatic material used like
a builder uses stone: not to represent, but to create, not to
see, but to live.
We can also understand why Lucatello so obviously touched
by the proposals of informal art, so clearly aware of the art
of the masters of the century insisted in defining himself
as a realist artist; because inside his vision is precisely realism
and nothing else. Realism that he continuously searches
even at times despairing to make infinite, organic importance
of nature, which incorporates everything, sky and earth, rivers
and mountains, mans work and man himself.
One of the artists first idola in Friuli was the Tagliamento,
just as the Po delta had been previously. If what we have written
up to this point has any sense, it does not seem difficult to
understand why. The Tagliamento is inextricably life and death,
water and plants, green and grey, white and red of sunsets. The
Tagliamento is also a great original, geological space, the gigantic
footprint of an omnipotent naturalness, always different and always
the same as itself.
To try to represent all of this in perspective terms however vague
they are, would mean that it would all immediately loose its
metaphoric complexity; to make images of what is, instead, by
essence, pure natural dimension.
Therefore the only possible means appears to bejust as it
was for the delta to intersect high dense paints, which
get darker into black backgrounds, or which get whiter in frescolike
whiteness, to create a highly original, robust, earthy elegance.
On the other hand, all of Lucatellos Friulan pieces of art
live as a matter of fact between two poles: one of a potent sensuality
pertaining of matter and the other of a sublimated lyric lightness.
The latter sees in the Musi series its most involving achievements,
but does not fail to express itself also in many other works on
canvas, and even in certain splendid "papers" that I
have had the opportunity to see and that, in my opinion, need
to be brought together once in a definitive occasion.
The Tagliamenti belong to the first pole together with other visions
of earth and nature where the panic intention of the author is
so visible that sometimes it exceeds according to my sensibility
the limit that distinguishes the visual fact from the mental
fact, the pictorial fact from the theoretical certain
idea of the painting: like when the linguistic elements of a work
are so reduced that they touch aphasia.
It was the risk of who directed all of his efforts to make the
indissoluble interlacement felt through painting: an interlacement
which ties each appearance to all others, each life to all others,
each essence to all others.
And to obtain, on the other hand, unforgettable results: for example,
certain Moments of nature, of such a joyous truth and lightness
that their vegetation is no longer matter, but dreams and sparkling
life; for instance a number of Solar moments of sensational fine
painting, sons of a concentration that is hard to imagine. Likewise,
the canvases as well as the mountains, of certain Musi, upheld
in their lyric happiness by unalterable creative energy, seem
to be daughters of nature, of the limpid, indelible dance of necessity.
Because this was, deep down, the intention of Lucatello: to paint
something that was itself nature, which supported the illusion
of being able to remove, for art, the diaphragm desperate
and necessary that consciousness interposes between our
life and the life of everything.
translated by Rebecca N. Kay
Lucatello Between the Tagliamento and the Musi
Personal anthological exhibition, Pordenone , Palazzo Gregoris,
18th October 3rd November 1996