Alfredo Romano

Galleria Arco di Rab

Walls covered with red wax, two identical panels mirroring each other, on each a cylinder of marble bound by a brass clamp; facing the entrance—as if on an altar—an electric warming pan where the wax melts and then cools again, leaving its strong perfume in the air. Where does this space, both archaic and decadent, spare but also precious, mystical and yet pagan, come from? Surely from arte povera, which is the source of Alfredo Romano’s basic grammar, his materials, and his technique. It is the source of his quest for an eternal image in contrast to the precarious and volatile images of our day. This is also the source of his dogged concentration, a concentration that precludes any kind of post-Modern superficiality. What is new here is a preciosity, a search for a total esthetic solution, perhaps an enervated refinement that does not neglect any detail, and aims ultimately at absolute perfection. The legacy of arte povera includes the possibility of a transformation in the direction of perfection, and Romano is not alone on this path, sharing with other artists the impulse to redefine the material basis of artmaking.

Still there is no articulated program unifying the efforts of the younger artists working in this field today. Picking up the threads of an arte povera once again cannot be anything but an individual activity, a reflection and no longer a revolution; it is a solitary practice and not a collective action. Romano seems to be profoundly aware of this, and it is reflected in the calm melancholy of his pieces and in the subtle sense of decadence that accompanies them. His search also entails a risk of excessive esthetic refinement, focused too exclusively on achieving the beautiful.

Alessandra Mammi

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.