2015 - Enzo Amendola,unrealistic explorer of the relationship between objects and people Stampa E-mail
Enzo Amendola’s paintings, as perceptive and relevant as ever in their profound, silent and composed style, explore the drama of the relationship between people and objects - what might be called the opaque side of life. Even in these tumultuous times, his painting conscientiously and lucidly reflects the complexity of the past hidden in the present - enigmatic mysteries on the edge of a void. And yet - and here we see the essential pradox of Amendola’s work - although the “contents” are recognizable on the limits of photographic representation, they do not in fact exist: what exists, combining precision with a spirit of enquiry, is the directness of the form and the ferociously sharp style. An impressive example of this is shown in one of the paintings in the “Interiors” section (The priest’s char, 1994), in which, set against a desolate background (light brown walls, grey floor), the real protagonist of the painting is the gold and crimson baroque armchair, which seem to subject the poor priest, who has his back to it, to a burden that not even his own shadow can save him from. The colour contrast between the red armchair and the violet mantle, covering the white vestment and the black cassock, wonderfully reflects the potency of objects over people, in a context where the power of symbols is almost overwhelming. In both the ‘Interiors’ and ‘Exteriors’ sections, covering the next twenty years, the role of objects still prevails; in the way that they affect the balance of the composition (chairs, the telephone, dressing gowns, clothes left lying around on armchairs), they are anything but passive. They become the voice of characters living an apparently uncomfortable life, depicted in bright settings, lit up by sunlight as clear as sea water, or worn out by a dim twilight. The function of these dynamics - clear signs of a dialectic of decomposition - is not as the ‘unnatural’ side effects of ‘natural’ containers (rooms, terraces, museum halls, beach), but as strong guidelines for a ‘horizontal’ style of painting, in which it is the objects tnat determine the attitudinal positions of their users. This can be seen in the magnificent 2013 painting with the “innocent” title ‘Bather with dressing gown’: a man is seen from behind, standing bare-chested and wearing a panama hat; on his left is a white chair with its backrest upright looking as if it is in charge, and a striped T-shirt lying on the floor. The man appears to be rather clumsy: he is being held up by the black-and-white striped dressing gown which functions as armour plating. The painter’s perspective is from the bottom up. The man is staring at the bright indigo sky and the green and brown hills of the empty countryside an extraordinary allegory of indecision. Another 2013 painting The Reading potrays a young woman in white bathing suit sitting cross-legged at a table, and reading a book in the summer light. Her attention span, it seems, is being determined by the objects themselves (once again a chair, a big shell, a bright red and green dressing gown at her feet) and their mysterious geometry, rather than by her own powers of concentration on the pages of her book. In a motionless world - dear to an artist determined to link thought with image (and whose most, emblematic work is the fascinating,”blind” painting Interior with bookshelf 2014) - we find Underwater fishing n.1 and Underwater fishing n.2 - older work with a strong sense of farewell. In the first painting a woman in a swimming costume is standing knee-high in faint furrows of green sea water, fastening a scuba tank onto the back of ‘her’ underwater fisherman. The second painting sees her turning away and pushing him under, as if by premonition: the effect is violent and dramatic. It is the sequence of a film in which the viewer’s discomfort, often felt in Amendola’s work, is determined by the sense of an irreversible decision being made. Amendola constantly observes his own world at a safe distance but with the rigorous precision of an entomologist, aware of the constant and unpredictable effect of contradictions. The artist’s reaction is not impassive, but his pathos is under tight control. The result, in which the artist is always faced with an ultimate challenge, is a painting of cruelty - a curved mirror, which changes the shape of the ghostly shadows that inhabit it yet never completely shatters the structure of the dream or nightmare that it depicts. Amendola’s world accepts tranquility without excluding anxiety, and its form is a constant state of vigilance, intent on maintaining its sharpness in the face of a confused magma. The pure colours that Amendola prefers are not a dogma, as his recent work (Internal with clothes, 2014) shows. Its bright colours indicate a new path for this outstanding artist, whose hallmark is not the lazy repetition of themes, but the constant exploration of a pictorial language in the search for perfect coherence. Well, only time will tell. Mario Lunetta