Venice

Marco Del Re

Luigi Deambrogi

Marco Del Re exhibits two different techniques in the gallery’s two spaces: in the larger space, the walls are covered entirely by a thin sheet of paper haphazardly glued on so that the waves and ridges become part of the work, which is executed in charcoal; in a much smaller room, the painter intervenes directly on the preexisting false wooden walls with oil paints diluted to varying degrees.

Entering this space, especially after a journey through Venice’s intense chromatic hues, the severe black and white of the work, which covers all the walls in a sort of monochrome fresco, produces shocking effects of complete alienation and of descent into the nether regions. Del Re justifies this uncompromising choice by a need for greater introspection during the stages of the creative process. Eliminating the violent yellows and reds that had for years distinguished his painting, he concentrates on the image, on its flow from past to present; static metallic silhouettes of male and female figures, probably clones or humanoids, are symbiotically placed with reptiles possessing gaping jaws or tiny crescent eyes. But architecture is the work’s authentic protagonist: the rigid structure of the smokestacks or the silent colonnades of a Rome transfigured; planes, masses, and outlines are modeled after the architectonic canons of the right angle and the arch.

A reference to Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical squares is evident. From them Del Re has inherited the Futurist ideology’s silence and disdain for overcrowding. There is also a reference to the mechanical man of Fortunato Depero’s Balli Plastici (Plastic dances), 1918, and a trace of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. There are the same piercing lights and half lights, which Del Re modulates through the quantity of black; the same impossible technology that produces immobile and hypnotized victims. Thus figures and architectures are mixed on the dark and stormy landscapes of the background to conceive a man-chimney whose arm emits a whiff of smoke, a woman from whose belly issues a column and whose head is caged in an arcaded portico, and, finally, an entire series of heads made fiercer by a functioning nose-smokestack.

But the novelty in Del Re’s work lies in the way he handles space. He has always painted pictures, even on a grand scale, but he has never constructed a total painting. In this case he works directly on the gallery walls, and instead of realizing an environmental painting, colored and abstract in the usual way and to which our eye is accustomed, he conceives a series of planes and superimposes masses and volumes following perspective flights measured on the depth and breadth of the rooms. The reference to the idea of the fresco is inevitable. Del Re spreads dark and mysterious skies behind his figure, illuminated by threatening scythes of moon. He invents a dramatic modern mythology, arranging his nocturnal giants in a Baroque scenography and entitling the work, turgidly and impressively, Martirio Architettonico (Architectonic martyrdom, 1986).

Barbara Maestri

Translated from the Italian by Mayta Munson.