The mistery of form


Alessandro Riva

The complex relationship between iconic and anonymous is still one of the great unresolved themes of contemporary art. Even after contemporary painting has been able to tackle all the issues, by mixing and contaminating itself with all the possible languages and media, the problem raised over one hundred years ago from the early historical avant-gardes is still current. What is real? And are we sure that the pure representation of the visible world can represent the complex matter of what is commonly referred to as “reality”? Similarly, what relationship do we intrude with the most intimate and deep substance of the existence, and with its symbolic representation? And what relationship does the reality have with what we commonly call the “spiritual condition” of our earthly existence, in other words with the idea that we have of some kind of divinity or unearthly existence? Even today, despite one hundred and more years of linguistic experiments, we feel more than ever true and tangible that, as Kandinsky wrote more than a hundred years ago, “the world resounds. It is a cosmos of beings exercising a spiritual action. So the dead matter is alive spirit”. And the way to “tear” away from the silence that is confined to daily life, the spiritual action on which the life of the planet is based want, still today, seek to create a bridge between the visible and the invisible, between the sensitive world from which we are surrounded every day and the impalpable matter of our spiritual unseen and unheard life. If carefully calibrated, the same representation of reality can constitute a “door” and an instrument of mysterious and secret communion with the intimate life of things. “There is nothing more abstract than the sensitive world,” wrote, incidentally, Giorgio Morandi, and he found in the same lines of the bottles of his studio the secret action of the elements of reality beyond their mere realistic depiction. The material that gives us the real is infinite: so, guided by a principle of secret inner necessity, the artist relies on his own sensitivity to arrange that living, glowing material, so that it becomes the link with other subjects within the cosmos. So what is really “real” and what is strictly “abstract”? Realistic or abstract is the sinuous and arabescated line that is formed in the sky, and we are able to see it, thanks to the flight of birds when they migrate to the south, or the mysterious conformation of the planetary alignments, or the changing of the weather agents, or the sound of galaxies when they resound the night in our palpitating hearts? Is there, after all, a net demarcation point that divides abstract depiction and symbolization, or is it in the delicate and secret equilibrium between these two seemingly irreconcilable elements that conceals the hidden bottom of our approach to the unresolved secrets of the cosmos? And again: have we come to a time of melting between possibilities offered by iconic representation and those of pure abstraction? They seem to have passed not a hundred, but a thousand years, from the first abstract compositions or the insights of a Malevich, according to him only the “pure” approach to painting could be able to express the essence of mystical perception, measuring by death and triumphing over it; yet, still today, research into the dichotomy between abstraction and representation has not shifted by just one millimeter. No solution, then? No: the solution is in the same search, in its endlessly repeated times always in different forms, but always equal to itself. Contemporary chinese art has repeatedly beaten the way of the complex relationship between representation and abstraction. In this exhibition, four artists probe, each in their own way, the possible branches in the post-truth era and the fragmentation of reality caused by the virtual invasion and the advent of “liquid” society. Li Zi's work moves to an uncertain, out of bounds land. What emerges, floating, ambiguous, like a shadow at night, by the intense and deep cadres of Li Zi, is the quintessence of pure vision, understood as the attempt to recover that mystical capacity of painting to create an emulation with the spectator, able to raise the “Maya veil” on the elements that live under the structure and grid of the real. Ghosts, evocations, pure form that will seldom look under our eyes when we look at it: here is the secret of Li Zi's always mysterious and vibrant painting. The artist explains that it is not the cold concept, but the “visual expression” as a whole, its focus of interest. “My work”, says the artist, “expresses my thoughts on society, mysticism, and religion”. For this reason, the artist chooses only the themes that respond to his “inner voice”. The artist does not seem to want to “see” what he really paints, but just “to hear” it, and as Caspar David Friedrich said, almost as he should close his eyes to really “finally” see: “close the physical eye”, warned the Great Romantic, “to first see your picture with the eye of the spirit. Then bring out the light as you have seen in your night... ”. So it seems to make Li Zi, an artist who emerges from a deep metaphysical ancient night finds lost in the night of the times, shamanic figures, animals, shadows: in short, the ghosts of the very existence.