Art critic and curator
The educative journey of the romantic young man has always existed, like the rich American family’s young son’s educational trip in Europe, like the pilgrim’s travel, the missionary journey, the travel of the salesman, of the geographer, of the adventurer. Each of these journeys could be a going towards something, an escaping from, a gesture of despair or of enthusiasm, a trip to hell, an Odyssey among the sirens, decadent seductions, oriental symbolisms, hallucinations, the myth of Haiti for the painter Gauguin; an immeasurable variety. Yet, inside this variety, some exemplary lines can be found.
The journey of Robinson Crusoe, which then turns into a purification journey, was not planned, Gulliver’s risky adventure is an endless web of surprises, and both of them are in the forced company of Rousseau’s utopia and Swift’s satire. However, for the artist there is the other riverbank, the other side of creativity, another spiritual horizon.
The journey of Goethe is the journey of the dramatist, of the poet, of the scholarly author of a theory of colours, admirer of the archaeologist Winckelmann. The journey of Klee and his friend Mack in Tunisia is the discovery of the colour, of an artist that believes in the construction and in the rules. Then, each in his turn develops his own implicit foundations from the outside to the inside and vice versa. Goethe for example, comes to Poems of the West and East, an aesthetic journey in the oriental poetry, almost a sort of bewilderment of the European nourished by solid classical studies.
I cannot see any kind of mannered exoticism in the spiritual and cultural attraction that seizes the artist Davide Grazioli to such a degree to immerse him entirely in this India, from which it seems you do not come out unharmed. Grazioli alludes to the “magic bridges” of Hermann Hesse, author of the well-known novel about formation entitled Aus Indien, two words that have become known in our language to express a mood, not a report.
What is a magic bridge if a bridge can operate magic just by existing, and therefore destroying a bridge would be a crime against dialogue and understanding? The magic is a peculiarity of certain privileged relations, a special occurrence of broadmindedness and illumination. Then, when the river banks seem so distant and alternative, the magic bridge fills every gap, and eliminates isolationism and defence. If then the reference to the magic bridges really is drawn from the author of Siddharta the relation will be even more clear.
The bridge is not only a metaphor, it is a reality to experience and live through personally, directly. A relation of an extraordinary quality, and just like Grazioli’s relation with India, it has not cancelled what, surely imperfectly, could be defined as his former ego. It does not seem to me that his fundamental search for peace has demolished the other world. It has rather compared the other world with an analytical spirit, which by removing the fences has added taste and consistence to a choice of a life that can find the unity again. A unity that is possible to discover thanks to the magic bridges.
Two worlds, the East and the West, find themselves in particular situations where a material narrates and brings the forlorn outskirts of the metropolis nearer; Calcutta and its misery, New York and its splendour, before a story inside the two worlds speaks. A similar condition of abandonment where there is no difference between the outcasts of a rapidly aged consumer society, and the outcasts of a society that is changing quickly and that can show signs of loss already, before having passed all slow phases of the usual transformation.
Therefore abandoned wrecks of cars, details of road accidents, signs on peeling walls, a hyperrealism which the visible reality, exposed to the gazes without filters or censure, makes more convincing than pictorial images of the hyperrealistic “creation” beside digitally printed images with other cars in perfect condition, arranged on strongly chromatic backgrounds which tell a totally different story; the story of Asia and Asian tradition.
Then we ask ourselves, but not in a pleonastic manner, what is a spirit of the Asian time? A different measurement of time and its excess. Or better, a contemporary without contradiction.
Grazioli says the paintings “happen”. Maybe it is like the sand that glides; it slides but it does not disappear, just as a tradition defended for centuries has not disappeared. A tradition that now meets the violent irruption of a foreign modernity. The sign painters involved by the artist in an unusual operation have the task of determining the records of a reality that must be preserved just like other precious historical testimonies in the past. And it does not matter that it is not about works of art, but about everyday life, which certainly will have a short duration. If the shortness of the contemporary is in contradiction with the duration of centuries-old works of art, maybe we could bridge the gap through returning conscious.
There is a very vital aspect in Grazioli’s artistic acting: the refusal to accept being a man-machine. All his work is a remark, also the part of his work which is less evidently connected to the Asian sources; an advice not to let oneself get carried away by exotic hypnoses, but to be able to understand other civilizations more inclined to meditation, less caught by too many urgencies, which could be a balancing factor, a therapy for persons become deaf, stagnated in a presumed conventional normality. In other words, an invitation to return to ourselves. This is what happens when the artist creates incense sculptures representing dying species, like the rhinoceros or the whale, just as the beautiful tiger painted on wood. Not only this Eastern meditation does not cancel the identity; it strengthens the identity and brings out its importance, with care and sometimes with irony.
A mythical web is not a fairy tale for weak minds. There is no need to repeat it, after many studies carried out on the subject by the human sciences which see the myth as a special form of wisdom, in the sphere of a new attention to revealing manifestations, to the profound seriousness and to the irreplaceable lesson that they offer, beyond all doubt. It is actually restricting to banish oneiric sources and illuminations in the field of pleasant diversions for young or disturbed spirits. This world which the myth reveals, and which art inspired by the myth expresses, is not a playful show for curious persons.
Whether it is a beauty seen from a traditional occidental point of view or a beauty that surprises with alternative poetics, its profound seriousness remains unchanged.