The affinities with Böcklin

Arnold Böcklin's famous motifs are omnipresent in the work of Antonio Nunziante, first of all that of "The Island of the Dead". This landscape full of mystery evidently represents for Nunziante a sort of dream island, a secret place of contemplation in which the artist would yearn to withdraw.


The steep rocky islands on the sea of ​​Nunziante - a recurring theme in his work - have a single cavity. There the artist would like to pause to abandon himself to his thoughts, his desires, his dreams.


In the last three versions of "The island of the Dead", Böcklin placed his initials "AB" as if they were carved in the rock above the only burial chamber on the rock on the right side of the painting. Evidently Böcklin also dreamed of finding peace in this place. In Nunziante's work, it is also possible to find other reminiscences of Böcklin. In his 2000 painting entitled "Torment and Ecstasy", the artist borrowed from the early work of Böcklin Ebene mit Gewitterhimmel [Plain with stormy sky] dated 1846 the stormy clouds that pursue menacingly the viewer like giant eagle wings. Also in this case, the rocky tower that rises steeply above the sea has only one opening. The painting "Over there" where everything is possible is an enigmatic work with an unrealistic treatment of light. 


Inside the wall of a ruin on the sea that recalls the late work of Böcklin Die Kapelle [The chapel, 1898], among the cypresses, a spring flows on rocky steps. An arcane and unreal light shines from the background through the cracks created by the tree trunks. Steep rocky walls of a gorge frame this unusual scene on both sides, immortalized by a painter sitting on a flat rock in the foreground. The rocky bastion, the incidence of light and the source are a tribute to a work by Böcklin dated 1881 entitled Quell in einer Felsschlucht [Source in a gorge of rocks]. In this way Nunziante reveals his spiritual affinities with the dream world of the master from Basel.

Hans Holenveg