Enzo Cucchi

“Painting is a battle, it resists things”

Enzo Cucchi

“People usually speak of the strong, barbarian, primordial expressionism of which Cucchi is a natural exponent, which places him in synergy not only with the Carrà of the “call to order”, but also with the early German expressionists, from Nolde to Kirchner, without forgetting the other protagonist, the Russian Marianne Werefkin. From all those Cucchi resumes – though perhaps discovering them on his own account by naturally probing in a kind of philogenetic storehouse – those sharp peaks that pierce the sky, or those unlimited buildings that are always ready to adapt to the nature of the terrain, curving to follow better its conformation, waiving the severity of the right angle: dream buildings, issued from the loins of the imagination of travellers in the same way that spiders and silkworms produce their threads.” That was the description given by the distinguished art historian, Renato Barilli, in the catalogue “The acrobatic paths of Enzo Cucchi” that presented the exhibition of works by the master from the Marches in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 200 . The text often focuses on the “triumph of the horizontal” in his painting: great figures, making their way along the road, self-confident characters that give a kind of reassurance to the whole scene, idols that certify the central nature of the belief. In my opinion, Enzo Cucchi’s approach traces his creativeness through a dreamlike process, in which his journey between the unconscious and the dream is indispensable. His visionary style certainly requires a journey through the media that was known to him. Through archetypes and symbols that most people have forgotten, with the key of an expressionist romanticism, this shaman of contemporary art succeeds in imbuing his works with that childlike depth that makes his creative ability eternal. His works contain a hidden reliquary through which he is able to narrate and often solve the problems of our everyday life. In the text presenting the exhibition at Rivoli castle in 199 , Giorgio Versotti says: “Cucchi’s earthly universe is cosmic, cyclical time, the opposite of diachronic time, where difficulties dissolve: the beginning and the end coincide, death gives life to a rebirth, as in the cycle of the seasons in Romanesque cathedrals… the use of oval shapes in Cucchi’s work is linked to this cosmic vision, which contemplates the joint presence of opposites in the same way that his double, two-headed creatures contemplate the world… The origin of all things, the cosmic egg generates stones and clouds, mountains, trees, faces. It generates the male and the female too as complementary principles, not as opposites.”

Alongside this text a drawing measuring 20×12.5 cm is published, “untitled” of 1993, in which the cosmic egg is clearly the protagonist: likewise, the cosmic egg is the subject and archetype in the white marble sculpture of the same year entitled “Flying idol”. In this sculpture the male and the female are clearly complementary principles and certainly not opposites. The cycle entitled “Idols” – ten fascinating sculptures in different materials – were exhibited for the first time in Rome in May-June 1993 at the Oddi Baglioni Gallery before travelling (as many of this artist’s works do) to different international museums. My meeting with Enzo and his visit to the Museum at Portofino enabled his creativity to “add” another protagonist or shamanic archetype to this new monumental sculpture, again entitled “Flying idol: water”. In the next new passage, Cucchi adds water to the symbol of the egg: but isn’t water an indispensable element for the essentiality of the egg? In front of the great idol is a cup, a Holy Grail, that collects this element which is indispensable to create life in all of us. The neatness of the essential nature of the creativity of this master of contemporary art is overwhelming. In a dialogue on colour between the artist and Achille Bonito Oliva, when the historian of the Transavantgarde movement asked him, “Which is the eye of culture?”, the artist replied, “The eye of sculpture! If you look at Masaccio from an academic standpoint he looks completely wrong, instead you know that Donatello is sculpture. Michelangelo had classical needs, he had to get into the classical, to do something incredible, to read all the classical rules so as to be a great man in sculpture, but Donatello is sculpture! He’s different. Some of my works are sick little things, little stories, like waking in the dark: that oil stain in the water of night, that’s waking in the dark.”

Text by

Daniele Crippa

Written in Portofino, on Saint Laurence day