GALLERY:

MONTAGNE 2000

THE GLORY OF THE NIGHT

Fabio Maria Linari crosses and contemplates the kingdom of untouched silence and the rule of shadows and twilight in this latest feverish series of mountain landscapes. Large works which are views, or rather visions of a rocky and dark mountain meta-cosmos, a universe that is perhaps the feature of his destiny, and which certainly has the same colours as his native sea. A symphony of Prussian blue, lapis lazuli, green backgrounds, dull Venetian gold and flesh-colour, in an unfocused timbre of moon-like tones. Tones which evoke the Wagnerian atmosphere, the "wild and rocky" peaks of Valhalla and Valkyrie, the sylvestral scenario of Parsifal and Tannháuser, and epic geography with "the characteristics of the mountains."


It is no coincidence that the place - ideal and psychic, archetypal and legendary - from which the artist set out on his post-romantic grand tour of the reality of the sublime and wonderful, was the marble quarries of the Apuan Alps, site of the solemn elective primordium, the embrace of two infinities, the great union of two eternities, between terra ferma and the open sea. Indeed here the white and stony world of the Alpine ridges, vertical mineral and geological scenes, and the great motionless granitic mass of the "frozen snowcapped Alps" admired by Petrarca, seems to identify itself with the incessant horizontal changeability of the maritime and Tyrrhenian world, to which the Ligurian and nomadic Linari assigns chiefly metaphoric, threshold and oracular proportions.
Linari's work is a poetic exploration en plein air from top to bottom, of ridges and chains. of foreshortened peaks and mountains, with an only apparently changing landscape which on the contrary has the fixedness of a very slow overhead flight, a flight which is not changing in the algid wind of high altitude and nightfall - a perspective repetitiveness, an architectural and compositional essentiality that almost infers an initiation ritual of the eyes and consciousness.
Linari reacts to a contemporaneity which has eroded and mortified the same notion of the sublime - that "depth" of the mind and soul that the ancient Greeks named hypsos and from which originated the same modernity, by willingly accepting the challenge of reassessing the pieturesque, pitting his wits against Leonardo da Vinci who founded the "genere" of landscape painting: "Adunque tu, pittore, mostrerai nelle sommità de' monti li sassi".
Thus for Linari the beloved Tuscan peaks of the Cisa and the Grignone, but also the Orobic Alps and mountains of the Tyrol, have become not only the habitat of mystery, the final altar of a "natural" residual infinity isolated from our present but on the contrary rather the pretext for congenial, solitary and serene but volitional painting, for collapse and death without sentimental reserve or guarantees of the trade, within the primary vocation of colour and image. And with the manual skill and sensuousness of painting with the expanded times of magic, in which the singular liquidity of the oils, liquescent almost like watercolours, melts into the pastels in perfect osmosis. Pastels which in turn are crumbled, pulverised and warmed by the artist's digital pulp, by his incessant amorous embracing of the paper until it becomes an integument, texture and tissue, until it makes flesh, uniting with the support, almost covering the black of the sheet like a velvety mantle, like an evening mist.


These works, chosen from many others, substantiate a pictorial morphology which implies qualities now rare in terms of their freshness, control, instinct and direction, a gestural dynamism of signs, in a sort of extremely personal experimental neopointillisme of matter. Here the refined contrast between the brilliancd'of Naples yellow and zinc white on one side, as well as the deep shadowiness of the burned Earth mixed with ivory black on the other, lights up tormenting high lights, a depth of horizon between mountains which are sometimes dizzy and pyramid-like and at other times soft and rounded, but always extolled as sacred humps of the world, since - as Thomas Steams Eliot wrote - "we feel free in the mountains. "In Linari's voyage pittoresque, in this latest updated and matured pictorial language of his, we can undoubtedly see the coexistence of bloodlines and certifiable inheritance, dominant and fatally destined to meet in an outspoken nature which is gifted with the sublime and the action of first intention - the so-called Venetian-mannerist line of the great Italian school. By this we mean the late and now disappeared painting of Tiziano, Tintoretto and El Greco, certain eighteenth century landscape painting and painting of ruins - from Guardi, Magnasco and Piranesi - and on to "dark" Goya. Then there is the expressionist ascendant, both Italian and Nordic-Gennan: Viani and Sironi, but above all Munch, Nolde, and on to the fabulous eighties of Fetting and Lupertz, and the sumptuous pictorial cosmogony of Kiefer. But in Linari's work what remains above all is bis Ligurian DNA, the language and art of poetry of the Tigullio region, between divisionism and symbolism, the unforgettable coloufistic lesson of Merello, with his masterful musical range of greens and blues, and the work of the father Giacomo Linari whose extended painting truly has the feel of the sea.
These landscapes by Linari, these stage sets of nature live in a dimension of silence - in them we hear only the whisper of the wind announcing the inescapable night, the Leopardian splendour of the night, the necessary result of a glimpse directed to the centre of things and our current condition of mankind. They are certainly a tribute to disorientation and anxiety, but also to the calm, solid and ontological eternity of creation, albeit observed from a peripheral and deliberately uncertain perspective. Linari's viewpoint is a hard one, but his painting still gives us that mystical wonder evoked by the words of John Ruskin and his mountain notebooks, "Great cathedrals of the earth, with their gates of rock, floors of cloud, choirs of torrents and stones, altars of snow, and vaults full of purple crossed by a sowing of stars...

Domenico Montalto