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LUPERCALIA AUJOURD’HUI – solo exhibition of Marco Cingolani

by Giulia Calì

July 19 – August 31, 2018
Villa Cattolica – Guttuso Museum, Sala dell’Edicola
Opening: Thursday, July 19, 6:30 p.m.

In 1989 Marco Cingolani painted Il ritrovamento del corpo di Aldo Moro (The Finding of Aldo Moro’s Body), in which a crowd of figures, made with chalk in the style of the “madonnari”, can be seen around the semi-hidden body of the well-known Italian politician of whom, since May 9, 1978, only an indelible photographic image remained. A year earlier, Gerhard Richter painted a cycle of paintings entitled October 18, 1977, restoring to painting, mostly mistreated by the historical avant-gardes, its value as a critical reflection on more recent German history. Even earlier, in the early 1980s, Achille Bonito Oliva was promoting, with the artistic current Transavanguardia, a heterogeneous group of artists, the “blind-sighted,” Francesco Clemente, Sandro Chia, Enzo Cucchi, Mimmo Paladino and Nicola De Maria, rehabilitating figurative painting as an artistic language capable of empowering itself, of re-introducing itself by right into the context of art, after, since the fateful year 1839, which had led to the birth of photography, painting had lost its predominant role. These kinds of remarks might seem misleading, since Marco Cingolani has since changed his pictorial language, coming to an increasingly evident abstraction, moving toward more spiritual themes and related to religious cults. Yet since that 1989, in which the artist drew with chalks a whirlwind of figures with high chromatic intensity, not much seems to have changed. With Lupercalia aujourd’hui, Cingolani returns to the sociocultural datum through works that, although abstract, show a continuous reference to the human element, rendered not by the figurative sign, but by the play of force that the chromatic energy of his gesture unleashes on the canvas. In this way, the artist reconfirms his interest in man, his traditions and rituals. The Lupercalia evoke ancestral places and times when ritual, felt as a source of life but also of death, was a founding element of Roman society. The festivity, in fact, shrouded in legend, has a special appeal for Cingolani due precisely to its ability to involve not only the people but also the most influential figures in society. Historian Georges Dumèzil recounts that for one day only, on February 15, young priests called Luperci, led by the god Faunus, broke the balance between the rational and irrational worlds, the classic struggle between Apollonian and Dionysian in which, for one day, the latter took over from the former. During the celebration, the Lupercians, arranged in opposing factions and dressed in the skins of freshly sacrificed goats, clutching strips of leather in their hands, would run around whipping the ground and the bellies of the women, who voluntarily exposed themselves to the lash, a vehicle for fertility. The Lupercalia evoke a rebirth, but also a loss of reasoning, the transit from winter to spring, becoming the conduit between the world of the living and the dead, through rites of passage experienced on the basis of an irrational and savage instinct. An act of purification, then, bound to the rituals of ancient Rome. Lupercalia aujourd’hui, as the title itself explains, is a symbolic experience that transfers the sense of Roman festivity to the contemporary, in which the ritual of celebration, from Carnival to Halloween, from the Love Parade to the musical gatherings inaugurated by Woodstock, corresponds to a moment of pause from the mechanical everyday and is charged with intoxicating madness, continuous struggle, dance, passion and eroticism. Marco Cingolani’s works fit within this dialectic between the regular and the irregular, discernible in the touches of pure color, contrasting with the shading of the “landscape.” If one observes carefully, the swirl of colors, dancing in the chaotic nature of the canvas, fits within a line pattern that demarcates the support, creating the illusion of a cubic space, an enclosed place, perhaps an interior one, that evokes, if only conceptually and certainly not stylistically, The Red Studio that Matisse painted in 1911, in which the painter’s interiority was transformed into a spatial and chromatic concept. Here, then, are represented the forces that govern human feeling, ancient and contemporary societies intersecting and bonding, dilating time and place into a single cultural substratum in which human history, pathos, ritual and spirituality are always repeated as the only protagonists. That is why, since that 1989, absolutely nothing has changed in Cingolani’s works, if it is true that without the society of which man is ratio, but also furor, nothing that is culture would exist. Next to the paintings, which are meant to evoke a film sequence, or rather animation, the author presents an unpublished series of pop-up booklets, retouched, rectified, modified, using the same sign and color expressiveness present in the paintings.

Marco Cingolani

Marco Cingolani was born in Como in 1961 and moved to Milan in 1978 when he was very young. He started to frequent creative underground circles, where art was mixed with punk music and fashion. Marco Cingolani’s work, has always tried to cancel the normative power of media images, exposing them to the radical care of the artist, sure that art offers a decisive point of view to interpret the world. In this context, the paintings Interviste (Interviews) and the famous series dedicated to the Attempt on the Pope’s Life and Aldo Moro’s tragic story were born. After participating in numerous group exhibitions, important anthological exhibitions at prestigious public institutions such as Palazzo Strozzi in Florence and Promotrice delle Belle Arti in Turin were dedicated to him. In 2006, he participated in the collective exhibition Senza famiglia (With  No Family), in the Palazzo della Promotrice delle Belle Arti in Turin. In 2007, he received a further seal of approval: the Galleria Emilio Mazzoli hosted the exhibition entitled Di che colore sono? (What Colour Are They?) in which the pictorial reflections on the colour of Power and its disguises were presented. In 2009 he returned to his origins with Percorsi della fede (Paths of Faith): the artist focused his attention on the Marian apparitions in Lourdes and Fatima. In the same year, an exhibition at the Villa Guinigi National Museum in Lucca put him together with some of the main Italian artists of the last two generations, including Mimmo Paladino and Sandro Chia. The following year, Giacinto di Pietrantonio invited him to the PAC in Milan, for the group exhibition Ibrido (Hybrid), with Jan Fabre, Gilbert&George, Charles Avery, Damien Hirst, Piotr Uklanski, Patrick Tuttofuoco and other major artists of the international scene. For his 50th birthday Como dedicated to him an anthological exhibition in three istitutional venues: Broletto, Pinacoteca Civica, Biblioteca Comunale. In 2012, the year of Il Belpaese dell’arte (The Country of Art), he exhibited at the Gamec in Bergamo, with Elmgreen&Dragset, Sislej Xhafa, Alighiero Boetti, Maurizio Cattelan, Alterazioni Video and many other well-known faces of art. Cingolani taught for ten years at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Palermo, contributing to the education of some of the best artists in Palermo among those who have come to light in recent years. He has already exhibited his work in Sicily at the Pantaleone gallery (Palermo, 2003), at the Bianca gallery (Palermo, 2011), at the Museo Civico in Castelbuono, 2011, and at the Drago artecontemporanea gallery (Bagheria, 2010 and 2011).