Il valore dei pensieri nati camminando, installation view, 350×500 cm
L’ala che non si chiude, acrylic on canvas, 50×40 cm
Nasce sulla colomba la piuma del dolore, acrylic on canvas, 50×40 cm
Era mio padre, acrylic on canvas, 50×40 cm
Escape room, wall painting and serigraph, environmental dimensions
Ho atteso 300 volte senza risposta, 2018-2019, 300 works on paper, installation view
“LA CASA INTORNO AL VASO”, solo exhibition curated by Davide Dall’Ombra – Casa Testori, Novate Milanese (MI – Italy)
20.06 – 10.11.2019
“My paintings are based on a distinction between illustrated space and abstract pictorial space. The former is mimetic and referential, while the latter is transformative, entirely incarnated by the dynamics of the paint, because formalist abstraction does not attempt to achieve a represented subject and claims the space it wishes to inhabit. I know. It’s the most self-referential form of painting possible, but it’s (also) my own”.
The exhibition held by Anna Caruso on the first floor of Casa Testori includes a series of works on paper and installations, immersive wall drawings, and new paintings, almost all of which were created especially for the occasion, experimenting with new techniques and allowing herself to be interrogated by the ideas of belonging and of breaking away characteristic of the figure of Giovanni Testori and easy to find between the walls of his house, now a cultural hub in its tenth year of experimentation in a number of areas, including young contemporary art.
In her solo show at Thomas Masters Gallery in Chicago last January, Anna added a new tile to the mosaic of her study of human perception of reality, enquiring into the subjective vision of time and the synaesthesia that affect our memories.
The focus of her study is in fact reality as it is filtered, and, in a certain sense, erased, taken apart and put back together again in our memories, visible in paintings featuring geometric stripes that create infinitely multiplied planes and spaces. In a rhythm combining natural and artificial elements of flora, fauna and architecture, the artist obliges us to glide over these planes with a kind of motion that, in terms of perception, cannot help leading us to pursue emotions and memories. Our own. And so, as we climb the stairs, we come to the work that gives the exhibition its name, La casa intorno al vaso, “The house around the vase”, a vase which is merely evoked but not represented, as a symbol of the house itself, capable of embracing the emptiness of existence, or rather, like the vase, basing its nature and function on the fact that it surrounds an absence. Heidegger’s beloved jug comes to mind: a container that owes its very existence to emptiness, dependent on something that is not there, it is defined by the free space it leaves for those who inhabit it, and it is itself only if it can “step back” to contain this void without filling it. Like the house. In the big bedroom, a canvas measuring more than four metres opens up the back wall toward the rocky mountains; between it and our eye, three overlapping sheets of clear PVC dilate the inclined planes of the imaginary perspective of the artist and the observer, while the materials help confuse the natural and artificial worlds, evoked just as they are lost. In this year of celebration of his five-hundredth anniversary, we have before us a work that contradicts Leonardo, in which perspective never gets off the ground, and never loses, even from the most remote distance, that lacquered clarity that reassures the artist. After all, Caruso seems to say to us, there is no room for cheap illusions: sentiments require clarity, at least as much as reason does. Two paintings face one another on the walls of the room: the famous 1949 Crucifixion Giovanni Testori painted at the age of 26, and Caruso’s personal homage to it: a work the same size, probably concerning the same subject. To the extent possible in view of sincerity and contaminations, whether personal or of our times. The cross is still there, nominally and symbolically, but as the mass of migrants presses from below, a cartoon of a bird whose name we cannot recall appears to form in the centre, a heart-mass-coagulation of redeeming blood, injured by the lines/thorns, but irreducible, if not unstoppable. Four portraits all the same size appear on the wall across from the big bookcase: Giovanni Testori and his mother Lina Paracchi, the artist and her father Sebastiano. Familial ties and tensions, inevitably constructive and destructive at the same time, liberating and suffocating as they should be, are interwoven in a profound dialogue of the unexpected, between cultural and emotional history. The titles come from Per sempre, a collection of poems Testori dedicated to the love of his life, and his verses also refer to the partridge and the dove flying in front of the faces of Testori and his mother. Four delicate portraits, in which Caruso makes some concession to the liquidity of desired loves and the blades of geometry seem to be tamed by the palpitations of the inexpressible. And so it happens that, in the supposed self-portrait, there is no room to give a face to her own face, and it is once again her father’s face that emerges. This is not the time of the Veronica; or rather, not yet. In what used to be Testori’s room when he was a boy, the theme of the nude appearing on the walls – at one time in the canvases attributed to Géricault and Courbet, and now in the work dedicated to them by Andrea Mastrovito (2011) – inspires Caruso to create a staggering yet intimate work, offspring of the installation presented at Teatro Elfo Puccini last year in which visitors were welcomed by a cloud of hundreds of drawings. The themes are sexuality and modesty, a voluptuousness that is desired, sought-after, denied, sublimed, affirmed, repudiated and accepted. The changes in the heart and the body turn toward our taking part in them, with the turning of a page or the appearance of an unusual image. The last little room contains worlds that, once more, grow. Anna paints all the walls with a big wall drawing and covers the floor with a silkscreen print. But the painting has no boundaries; it sets out in search of the big conifer standing in the garden outside the window and dreams of crossing those thresholds that characterise the room at least as much as the big bookcase between them. Man is, as far as we know, the only living being to be aware of the inevitability and drama of his own death, says the artist, going well beyond the instinct of survival and preservation of the species. But sometimes we wish we were like this bird: a western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica), which, they say, perceives the passage of time, present, past and future. It remembers things, but only up to a certain point.
(Davide Dall’Ombra, curator)