Landscapes of light

Just a year ago, in his studio closed among houses, railings of time overlooking the mountains that little by little are scattered with blessed snow, Antonio Nunziante closed with a very beautiful cycle, dedicated to the interpretation of a youthful masterpiece by Caravaggio. In the last painting of that series, while the intensity and emotion in front of the very human subject grew gradually, the painter felt the desire to open, and almost open wide, his gaze to absolute nature. He, an artist of figures and of busy history jams, of interiors struck by the washed-out mold of legend, set himself free in front of the manifestation of the events of light. It seemed to me, in that circumstance, that Nunziante had taken his first steps on a different road, that he felt strongly the vastness of the landscape - a landscape certainly interpreted -, and that nature then made it become a entanglement of luminous consciousness. The gare towards the clear sky, towards the clearing from which flowers were born crossed by a light. Everything was changing, to the point of perceiving the precise instant in which the world was formed, because the painter's attention was directed to the hour before the creation of the world.

From that painting, which struck me a lot for its force of novelty and announcement, it can be said that this exhibition starts, which in its highest results is certainly the best goal that Nunziante has reached so far in his history as an artist. It shows that it is in every way dedicated to the spread of light in the world, to its essence, to its being stretched out, uncatcholle. And concretion in ravines and rocks, in clouds and mountain slopes, in gulfs and waterfalls, in moons and stars, in woods and flowering water lilies. The rooms have opened, the doors pulled out of the bolts, the windows are no longer needed. The steps are taken in that world and the light is of an endless presentation, of a willingness to listen and announce. The sun and the moon are heard, their mute clang, the steps they take in the sky. Nights full of stars, apparitions and enchantments, perfumes and silences, trails that perpetuate themselves in the dark and mark an orientation, piers to dock in the black that sometimes does not respond, deaf.

In this way Nunziante has created a new space for painting. He is not satisfied with describing nature but invents it, molds it by blowing it into the spirit of life. With his brushed lights and all to surround the air, he very strongly wants to render in the image the hour of the beginning of the world, that Edenic time that saw man walk on earth for the first time. Romantic spirit that may be, sometimes close to the idea of ​​Turner or Friedrich, it is incarnated and engraved in the tangle of the initial essences, of the auroral splendors. The painting tries to give figure into an earthly paradise made only of light, in which however the primitive and ancestral element is felt. It is in doing so that Nunziante leads his steps to that place where the education of gestures, the wisdom of painting and the power of creation are added.

The romantic element, as this painter perceives it, is the superimposition between the immensity of nature, which has not yet become landscape, and the immense soul. In this journey, in its resonances and refractions, the destiny of the image is fulfilled.  In Nunziante the goal is not reached yet, but rather the journey of the spirit from one place to another and painting is done with the adhesion of light to the world encountered. This is the great change that is discovered here, now: the stasis within the confines of a room, the precision of the story is replaced by the infinite glory of constant, circular and equally descending and ascending movement. The light on a great mountain since the beginning of time is the first vision that the eye of man has when he has consciously discovered to be an inhabitant of the earth. For this reason, Nunziante's most beautiful paintings arise from the enchanted amazement of those who look through threshold, and admire the creation not yet modified by the action of the multitudes.

In these paintings it is possible to feel the density of an epic fact, which no longer has anything of the game, anything of the exact arrangement of objects on a plane. No longer that almost metaphysical smoothness of environments and volumes. The change is not irrelevant and this new painting is observed as a true fact of the mysterious and secret spirit. Where silence acts not as a tinsel but as the exact substance of amazement in front of the immense. And it is no coincidence that solitary figures set out, in some highly suggestive works, within the expanded confines of a nature that belongs to the gaze and the soul together. Figures that, like those of Friedrich two centuries earlier, turn their backs to us and feel the rising of a moon, the rising of stars in the night air, the floating of mists. They feel all the immensity of the earth, pressing on all sides like a feather. And even if roads are drawn, it is possible to see the distant sea, remaining fixed within all that vastness around you felt circular, imprinting itself. Clumps of clouds descend towards the deep water and almost themselves mark the clear line of the horizon. Nunziante paints terror and wonder, fully captures the romantic sentiment that calls from ancient residences, from distant latitudes.

And it is to give voice to this instance of remote time that he sometimes moves materials that became almost abstract, in a sort of romantic sinking into light in its pure and absolute state. But what is most striking is the reversal of this light in the territories of consciousness. Nature thus described becomes a self-portrait and even more an image of a self that fades into the lights, taking on its appearance. A figure is a small point in the world, it is itself place and substance, memory and dream, presence and absence. From this action of the double Nunziante's painting emerges strengthened. And, while writing, we always ask ourselves how the painter was able to conceive this daring of spaces, this inexhaustible calibration of hills and mountains, of skies and clouds, of reflecting seas. Because suddenly, and almost by a miracle, he left the playroom and faced eternal nature, questioning it. From this mute signification, he drew the motif for some works that return to the inaugural hour of the universe and thus painted, with the right fear that is due to the absolute, the world in its first image.

It will not be useless to remember how the painting that started this series is the image, then re-proposed, of a man, let's imagine the painter, who with a taut line hooks a boat to the world so that it does not fly away . Or perhaps instead, he is there in the act of freeing that white-sailed sailing ship towards the sky, which does not sail on the sea but takes off into the streets of the sky. Within storms and clouds, appearances of sun and rain. This man, in all strongly poetic images, leads his way between sandy coasts and mountains, between promontories and lagoons. He always leads it by drawing with him that thread that on the other side has a boat that is never completely seen. And in saying the other side, we feel, we know, that it is a beyond not only of places that flex beyond the cap of the horizon, but it is a beyond of time. In the sum of what we have been, that we are and will be. This boat that does not start and that docile follows the painter who walks in the world, is the casket in which everything is kept, the knowledge of the world, of the self of things.

Inside these Turner's skies, of gray and blue crossed by winds and storms, moves the resistance of time and seasons, of lights and its upheavals. And we feel that a painting carried out to the point of agony in this way comes from the will to become, incandescent, syllable of the beginning and the end. Distance that is combined in proximity. Nunziante has gone through a long way to get to this point. To be placed in front of places that are everything and nothing, the being and its disappearance, are the past and the present. The painter becomes a demiurge, builds the world with his thought, shapes it, brings it to light, does not let it to sink. Yet, sometimes he follows that world into the abyss and then tells it through a light that digs int the earth.

But as for a need to breathe, to meet sweeter and more human measures, he leaves those prehistoric vastnesses, stormy and bristling with thorns of clouds, to meet the light in its fullness and in its extension of a large space that opens to the sea . They are then also paintings of large dimensions, so that the width of the canvas corresponds almost to the width of a music. Above all the vastness of nature. Yellow fields of wheat that in a trail of earth and light lead towards the sea, the intense blue crushed and protected by the sail of the milky sky. Only emptiness and silence, only light and refraction of light.

Nunziante finally chooses to be a painter in this way. He wants to be the one who announces the place where all the wonders can happen. Painting returns to its first instinct of representation, as in the Lascaux caves. Images that were scratched on the walls to ward off danger, representing it. Images that even now come from the dawn of time and are transformed into the sign of an immutable beauty, which binds the before and after of existence. It binds, with that thread joined to a boat, the earth to the sky, the agony to joy, contemplation to the story. This is how painting makes the transitory what it has always been, makes the appearance that vanishes the constancy and sedimentation of the ages.

Marco Goldin