Vittorio Matino by Giuseppe Curonici

The recent painting of Vittorio Matino at the beginning appears as an expression of clarity and neatness, which conveys peace and cheered power. After a moment, the first perception is already overwhelmed. With the confirming of those values, others arise, a measured but intense and intricate energy, metaphofor or visualisation of the inner life, a representation of the human condition in front of itself. Theme and variations. A pictorial theme appears predominant, realized with light and colour: a limited but dynamic surface, placed in the centre of a boundless space. From here develop many free and unexpected variations. The constituent theme is given in two typologies: horizontal and vertical. The horizontal painting often offers a long rectangle, a triptych with a central part provided of a physiognomy of its own, and two side parts symmetrical between them. The other, more frequent principle typology is the vertical rectangle. On a space surface of light-colour, rises a subject constituted of another rectangle, with marked colours, placed more in front, as protagonist. A scene of total pictorial purity, without description of body figures. It is not a theatrical scene. But it is neither an optical performance. Although the quality visual facts are of unequivocal obviousness, it is excluded that here we can stop at a consideration only visual or only at perceptive and sensorial phenomena. With drama and urgency we feel that so much order, so much clarity, are the kingdom of an emotional and thought charge, which can continually summon other meanings. A world of complex meanings. The cosmos, the humankind. The denotation is rigorous: an incorporeal stele, realized in abstract surfaces, a pictorial style as because area in the space, profile, light, colour. But the connotations (the extra meanings directed by the first one) are great and rich. The image suggests at the same time a flow of cosmic energy and an abstract memory of a human figure. Not the man, but his energy, or the relation between man and space. The apparition of a Power, as in another historic period, could have happened on a space in material of an icon. But here the space-light is itself a revelation, a visual spatial and chromatic evocation, and expresses a meditation of which the sense wasn’t given us by the voice of any prophet, and consists in the irrepressible activity of this space-light-colour. When the vertical dimension of the immaterial icon is greater, we are invited to think mainly at a cosmic event. When the vertical extension is less, the unlimited image limits itself as becoming human. We can talk about a monument to an abstract eminent overpersonal hero, who has left the unforgettable image of his prevailing, certainly not the physical image, but the image of an act of claim and presence. The image of the ego, of a direct and ineliminable presence, the ego of the primordial enunciation which says: I think therefore I exist. Not an autobiographical ego contrived of individual stories, but rather the self-assertiveness at the pure state, in itself, and in a visualized form. The segment of the coloured space stands out in strong relief, and suggests the idea of a presence and a consciousness in its full dignity, of its determination. The more we admire this limpid stele with no face, and the more it invites us to meditate on the mystery and its possible unaware contents, its being subterranean, that the more you lighten it and the more it shines obscure, bright and chromatic. Stele in the memory of the present, on the contrary of the future, because that absolutely abstract figure continues living from a moment to another, persists as continuity in the time, towards the following time. The subject of an overindividual biography. Stele of a story of the ego as a cosmic subject, more then a subject of anthropology. From anthropology we are passing to cosmology, and vice-versa. It seems that its meaning is the one of an universal Ego, where every ego, the ego of anyone is in front of it, is drawn to proclaim: that one is me; or to ask: why, am I thinking that that one is me? It is certainly someone who has something to do with me. It is legitimate to turn to that abstract non-stele, and say: You? Is he an interlocutor? Someone who faces me? At this point starts a dialogue. The rigorous and pictorial purity of the abstract figure it’s a call, a solicitation, which invites me to recognize an ego and at the same time to recognise the potentiality of a “you”. If things go in this way, if in these images is hidden the meaning of an ego, joined to the meaning of a “you”, then Vittorio Matino’s painting must be recognized like the essential elementary and dismayed dialogue, which consists in feeling our own “ourself”, the observing ego, in a deep interchange with the other. There are no screams and there are no explicit proclamations, there are no meetings. Only an intuitive presence. It seemed a closed, monolithic painting! Instead it is not only a personal act, but even an interpersonal one. Pictorial process. The colour. Let’s consider the shape, the style, the technique. Let’s start with what it is not. It is not a colour of naturalistic origin, which is obtained in an empirical social panorama. It is not even a kind of minimalist colour, based on the studies of the chromatic science. The colour of Vittorio Matino includes also these things, but on another level of the disquisition. It is an expressive colour, personal and at the end existential, that has been invented by the painter as an act of free individual choice. The artist doesn’t rely on the primary colour, but on mixtures not programmed: the colour is elegant, audacious but delicate, and even tender loving; produced by a creative act that loves and respects the complexity, because the way of living of the humankind is the stirring of all the experiences, even the most complex. The colour of Matino originates for instinctive and emotional sensibility, out of any simplification, scheme or program. The dialectics between the protagonist and the surface, we spoke about in space and shape, still appears in the colour. The central abstract protagonist, the very dignified obelisk to a pictorial hero, is a tension of colours which overlaps with countless game of veiling and transparency. The mix of the lights goes from brightness to shadow, or to a veil of withheld mourning. The light is a quality that results from the colouristic choice; it spreads everywhere, and offers us a world of chromatic-bright surfaces, like if it would not have existed material or mass, but only light energy. Aspects pertaining to matter. The technical and material aspects of painting must never be disregarded. We know well that habits of thinking in an idealistic way, lead us into temptation of taking painting as ideations of forms and meanings etc. etc. at the professed pure state, as if painting would be an immaterial act for incorporeal observers, with no body like angels. But angelology is a way of mendacity. Really Matino applies an implacable attention to the pictorial material. It is properly true that in his work the material is light, hardly with any mass, or reduced at the minimum. But this doesn’t mean neglecting the material fact, it means whereas providing for it with extreme precision. The counter-evidence is given by the manual skill, by the expertise of the painter: him, his hand, and his brush. The acrylic colour is suitable to be graduated or dissolved as you want. But it has its risks. If used pasty, or handled with a brush with stiff bristles, the effect changes and can shirk control. Matino uses the spatula and then brushes with very soft bristles, which allows spreading the liquid colour with fluent movements, avoiding the forming of scars or uncontrolled lines, and helps realizing in a compact and continuous way, wide surfaces hardly impalpable. Other brushes are of more and more reduced measure, far as the possibility of producing thin outlines. The concrete aspect of the work of painting must be kept sight very well. With these material controls, Matino works offering us the human condition, that is the one of the humankind as spirituality of the corporal Ego. This is our culture. The sense of flexible linearity. Inside the pictorial work of Matino we find long lines nearly right, flexible, and hardly curved. They form by the gesture of spreading out the colour; they are the borders of the coloured areas. The outlines and the charts constitute the inside tissue of the abstract stele, the axial character that is always a little bit moved, in the dynamics of its making and in its veils. These bearings of a gesture origin are not automatic products of nature, but rather creations of culture. The slow gesture of painting is passed through a cultural filter. A revealing symptom is provided by an iconographic document. Matino keeps in is workshop a photo of an Asiatic sculpture, representing a human figure strongly stylized. The photo emphasizes the profiles: with a bit more marked curvature, it includes features that surely Matino’s paintings are connected to. As always, the artist is independent and free in choosing his ancestors! In the latest works the space linear system offers new solutions. In the upper part, the abstract character of colours, the pictorial stele, opens producing a parting of the ways. It is a strong and new accent of dynamic complexity. Nobody can tell where each destination will lead. Story of an immediate painting. A qualitative achievement. After the years of study, the early painting of Matino is full of social and existential allusions, to the models of Bacon and Giacometti. Through the meditation of Matisse and Klee he understands that painting can be meanwhile figurative and abstract, if inside of it prevails such a pictorial quality. He gets to know the work of P. Mondrian, M. Rothko, B. Newmann, M. Louis. The extension of the historical allusions of Matino’s painting is highlighted, in the nineties by some reviewers (Valentine Marcadé, Giuliano Menato) who reconnect it even to old overtures, the Byzantine Art, the icon, the holy representation that Matino considers in a new and laic way. To us it seems that Vittorio Matino has done a decisive stride in these first years of the century. After the geometry in horizontal and in vertical, which included the sum of composition and the conduction of the line; after the use of complex geometries with oblique charts – the artist gets rid of them. The geometrical backing is no more necessary. The rectilinear horizontal and vertical segments and the orthogonal charts are abandoned. The shapes move in a delicate but total way; rationality is interiorized, the whole image gets new and stronger force. In its pictorial dignity, more and more studded with the thought of the presence of the cosmos and of the humankind, real even if indirect and hidden, the painting rises to a new qualitative level, the one of the free creativity, the autonomy and the inner movement of life. It is inside there indeed that the dialogue with the humankind happens.

Giuseppe Curonici