Yes, of the course the show must go on at all costs, the band must play on, it has to keep playing, year after year.
That’s the real meaning of life as far as art is concerned. It’s not a romantic way of travelling along the paths of the present, but the manifestation of an intense and dedicated sense of duty towards a vocation, or whatever you want to call it – living in the world without bothering about anyone else’s opinions or approval.
Once upon a time people used the phrase born under Saturn – and that meant living one’s life outside conventions or imposed rules.
Then the romantic movement saw such people as being destined to penetrate into areas which many others thought couldn’t be reached. Today they’re classed as cultural workers – a species to be handled with care, or even better, to be ignored altogether, especially when people who seem remote from our everyday lives want to set them up as beacons for the community.
It’s not an easy path for artists like Giorgio Valentinuzzi, who has chosen to work on the outer fringes.
Even so, he cultivates relationships of respect and approval which link him with many notable figures of Italian and international culture on terms of equality.
But that, by the way, is something that’s best mentioned under your breath, not to be shouted out loud: it’s an old structure, based on solid traditions, and appearances are always deceptive.
Anyway, this status has its own advantages: each morning brings the opporutnity to create new paths, to be able to decide whether to paint, or make music, or produce graphic prints, or to devise an art exhibition for I Contemporanei in Via Mercatovecchio in Udine.
This is Giorgio Valentinuzzi’s position. This is how he managed to bring to the attention of Friuli arte e natura – lo spirito della terra (Art and Nature – the spirit of the Land). Many people thought it an impossible task, but he managed it: to gather together twelve great artisits from our region and convince them, at least for once in a lifetime, to pose together for a magical image. And – if that weren’t enough – to create an unforgettable testimony to their artistic contributions, something lasting that is still capable, more than ten years later, of being as moving and surprising as it was in 1986.
That is saying a great deal.
Only someone born under Saturn can still manage – here and in other marginal areas – to strike sparks of the unexpected, to cut out for himself a path which even years later is still there and which makes people pay attention precisely because it is both remote and ever-present.
Valentinuzzi the Saturnine not only matures his projects, but also brings them to life, working in a soltude that is both admirable and suspicious.
The friends who know his birth sign also know that the fact his sign is Saggitarius is probably the only screen in his life: and in fact those people born on the first day 0f December belong in reality to that mythical thirteenth house of the zodiac that goes under the name Serpentarius.
It is a particular and rare point of departure, which somehow allows him to pass through insuperable barriers of fire and wind so that he can confront the hardest ordeals. So that, by destiny or by his own will, Giorgio forges ahead with that outlook on life which “overcoming every constriction of culture succeeds is re-emerging all the time with the innate roughness of a savage who likes making grimaces…” That’s what Goethe said, and perhaps we can all agree with it.
Trieste, 1 December 1997
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As a wise man wrote, a long time ago, “An artist is like a snail; he always leaves behind him a silvery track, and from this we can deduce his nature”. It’s obvious that this silvery track is what links an artist to his times, in both his thoughts and his works. That’s true of Valentinuzzi, who has given us plenty of traces of his creative intentions.
Faced with such a wealth of material, and with a range of paintings that show so many facets of expression, we might feel bewlidered at first. But in fact it is possible to decipher it all if we look at it as a trajectory and consider it as a function, as a relationship between the artist’s reaction to the way he perceives his society and the way he uses culture as a means of exchange.
So he employs ice and fire as weapons against indifference and emptiness. Seen in this way, we could choose two completely contrasted examples from among so many: Soluzioni/Frequenze modulari from the 1970s and the cycle 8 April ’90: che passa? On the one hand we find a perfect control of the technological structure which makes a strong impact and where the strong stimulus from abstract constructivism is employed to provide a motivation for the attempt to realise some ideologial intention, something human rather than abstract, and concerned with the behaviour of the individual. An icy cold stimulus to provoke a positive counter-reaction.
On the other hand, there’s the fiery encounter with a language that defines and then destroys itself in the poetry of lyrical abstraction. And from this angle, Valentinuzzi experiments with a huge range of possibilities in the search for some meeting point between progettual intelligence and the discharge of energy and vitality, a process where the operation becomes absorbed into the end result.
Another important aspect of Valentinuzzi’s work (and this is probably something that has germinated in his mind for a long time) is the presence of a strongly dialectic streak, a concept that according to the ideas of historical Dadaism leads to the reconciliation of opposites. For Valentinuzzi, Surrealism is the primary matrix of a representative organisation, and in the course of its evolution his art reveals a relationship with the background of Escher – that is, making the necessary leap from human magic to the deepest essence of nature, confronting the architectonic construction of images with the ideal structure of crystals. So it is no surprise that in his latest works , ordered along geometrical lines (which still preserve in their background the association/collision of different chromatic planes) there emerges a search for a pictorial language that relates the aethetic object to an image of Nature.
These tendencies don’t place the artist in any particular category – indeed, they remove him from any possible group. The phrase from Goethe we noted above is still valid as far as Valentinuzzi is concerned.
So for painter, painting remains a lost paradise which cannot be shared with anyone else.
I’ve experienced a deep sense of weariness while drawing up this catalogue… plunging my hands back into an exact period of time, measured by a long series of works, over so many years… it hasn’t been easy.
I’ve been writing, painting and reading for ever. I’m sure that unsuitable reading corrupted me even in childhood. When I was about seven or eight I read Edgar Allan Poe with a candle under the blankets: his The Premature Burial terrified me for years, both sleeping and waking. Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Miller, Du Maurier… these were my bed-fellows, my childhood friends.
Everything I lay my hands on – photos, writings, music scores – reminds me of a boundless past. Bruno said that anyone who lives in the past grows old… I believe, in the end, that the real risk is that of repeating an infinite repetition of gestures… in painting I stop and think for the (minimal) time necessary to understand and move onwards… I even read Nietzsche at quite the wrong age!
My school career was of course an utter disaster.
Things went well enough until my third year at primary school; then, with my unsuitable reading, the malignant worm of the frailty of life began to work its way into the happy and unthinking swamp of my childhood. I was eight when a divergence from reality provoked one of my first visions: that life was disgusting and useless!
I had a wonderful boyhood after I’d realised that nothing takes place outside our own minds… I lived wrapped up in myself, nourished myself… I gave the impression of a surly and lonely boy without playmates… but I had my imagination: I projected interior films, complete with sound-track, and if the situations in the little world around me didn’t please me, I just changed the script. I was immersed in a fictitious world… and since then, from my days as a young puppy right up to now, I continue to soar, to invent, to dream…