Download here the Catalog for the exhibition (only italian version):
It’s wonderful to look at art history and see how artists have always explored the feelings, emotions, pleasures and torments of human beings. Era follows era, artists adapt to the social and economic factors of the changing scene, inventing new forms of poetry; but the human heart stays the same, and I can see a common essence, a shared poetic component, in every period of art. These were the thoughts that led me to begin collecting: works from the interwar period at first, then gradually moving toward the artistic languages of the present. I like to think of my collection not as two separate groupings of art, but as a single vast vessel of timeless stories to be explored, where the clearly visible guiding thread that links it all together is the ability to describe the deepest meaning of humanity, its nature and weaknesses.
In the 30s and 40s, Filippo de Pisis used images of young men to describe his own homosexuality in a quiet, reserved, very intimate way. For the time it was a sign of great artistic courage, which is part of what I admire about him. And then in our own era, Luigi Ontani is openly homosexual and his work deals with gay sex without embarrassment. I think both of them may express the same discontent with a society that's not yet ready to fully accept them. So it's no coincidence that they meet up on my Elefantino del Marchesino.
The concept of woman as object, sadly enough, is still a part of the public imagination. Ziveri described it in his bordellos, and many, many years later, the photographer Araki did as well, in a seemingly different way.
War and human suffering weighed on Fausto Pirandello's mind as he painted beaches where human flesh is crowded together and pointlessly tormented with absurd violence. Today, in the works of Imran Qureshi, I see the same torment, the same pointless violence against the spirit and body of man.
Portraiture can be a study of character which delves into the soul, describing the nature of its subject and, at times, the profound goodness of man.
And so Ottone Rosai's Intagliatore, Renato Guttoso's Antonino Sant'Angelo, and Scipione's self-portrait respectively portray love, integrity, and the knowledge of impending death.
Today, the portraits of Victor Man and Andro Wekua speak of suffering for a history that has become a part of you and can never be erased, Elizabeth Peyton tells us about love and admiration, while Michael Borremans and Roberto Cuoghi depict the mysteries of the human soul. And I could go on citing many other artists in my two collections, which are actually just one.
Stories of lovers, in the 30s and in contemporary art: caught up in the problems of life, like the couple shown by Giuseppe Migneco who find no pleasure in their love due to the sufferings of society and the ugliness of war, or, like Michael Borremans's couple with the veil, united but divided by an invisible pain they must try to fathom.
Lovers united by a boundless love, like Ottone Rosai's Fidanzati or the couple shown by Laura Owens.
Renato Birolli's I Poeti is about conceptual painting, about the realism that comes after the filter of poetry, about a kind of poetry that is inside the artist, just as Michael Borremans's diptych is about conceptual realism. Realist painting grows out of reality, but takes poetic shape in the artist's mind.
I like artists who have no qualms about describing whatever moves the human soul, without filters or censorship, like the sex described by Scipione in Natura morta con piuma, or the artistâ€™s discomfort with his own homosexuality in Hernan Basâ€™s self-portrait from 2006, or Luigi Ontaniâ€™s San Sebastiano.
Freedom in art can be like Renato Birolli, who uses color to destroy the chiaroscuro of the Italian twentieth century, looking toward Europe for a kind of painting without pre-established rules, or freedom in art can be like Banksy, who in our own time uses a rebellious rat with a paintbrush to express himself outside the usual canons, celebrating art without frontiers, or it can be like Barbad Golshiri, who will accept no prizes from representatives of the official art world.
Not everything has stayed the same. There are things that belong to each era, like the violence against women depicted by Regina JosÃ© Galindo and Wangechi Mutu, which has always existed but never used to be shown.
Arnaldo Badodi did let us glimpse the subjugation of woman in the solitude of his girls and the sad faces of his dancers and prostitutes; faces that tell of psychological violence.