INTERVIEWS – EXTRACTS
Marco Meneguzzo, “A Conversation with Vittorio Matino”, exhibition brochure, Lorenzelli Arte, Milan 1984
[…] I feel that we are dunked in false color like doughnuts in coffee. We are attacked by rampant color—the color of publicity, of TV, of fashion—color already known and taken for granted, which I have always mistrusted. I see a great color illiteracy, a sort of functional blindness. For this reason I want, I feel the need, to repossess color: it is this desire to ‘see’ color that makes color become ‘color’ and not just an indifferent or, worse still, aggressive pigment covering things put up for sale. Everything tends to be vulgarized and trivialized: our civilization tends to replace the object with its reproduction, causing it to lose all connotations of quality… […]
[…] The most difficult thing to achieve in painting is spontaneity. Spontaneity can be achieved only through a long exercise of craftsmanship and precision, which allows you to know and keep your tools sharpened in order to give the idea of spontaneity and freshness, to make the viewers feel them. This is obtained only by a rigorous control of the medium with which you are working.
Claudio Cerritelli, “Painting as an Ethical Choice. Interview with Vittorio Matino”, in Carte d’Arte Internazionale, Messina, Winter-Spring 2001, reprinted in Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Howard Scott Gallery, New York 2002
[…] I believe that everything that happens to me can be transformed into color and therefore into painting: an encounter with a person or the yellow of an autumn leaf, why not? The same goes for thoughts and sounds, which are transmuted into colors to be organized in an appropriate way on the canvas, using fields of color, juxtapositions, proportions: nothing literary or ideological remains. […]
[…] In art, what interests me is not capturing scientific thought or a methodological or even didactic approach. What I am doing is not teaching; rationality helps me, but my sensibility intervenes to choose intuitively, without any apparent reason, what to do. Painting tries to offer a vision of the world; it is a poetic model, addressed to those who have a specific interest, those who deserve to have access to this language. Painting is a sort of propitiatory tribal dance in the field of painting, I don’t know what it means and I don’t care; all I care about is making it rain.
[…] The body, through the hand, is capable of expressing things that do not pass directly through the brain, and in this way, painting can surprise you. Ever since then, I have never again exerted a simple act of will in wanting to do a painting, but I have let the painting decide how to make itself; I follow it, meekly. The painting is not simply its execution, but rather the enactment of a state of waiting for the events that the painting brings forth as it makes itself, revealing paths and meaning to us. It is full-scale freedom, an abyss, nothing to hold onto, letting go, floating in empty space. The longer and more arduous the crossing in the open sea, the more you will appreciate the shape and the color of your landing.
“Variations on a Theme. A Conversation between Vittorio Matino and Walter Guadagnini,”, in Vittorio Matino. Vario/pinti. Opere 2002-2003, exhibition catalogue, Galleria dello Scudo, Verona 2003
[…] The relationship with reality belongs to the artist’s individuality just as do the historical, social, and cultural contexts in which he works. Despite everything, there does not exist an art divorced from its context, nor does there exist a picture by a painter that should not be seen within the context of his whole oeuvre. […]
[…] What I am interested in is precisely the variations on a theme that reveal the artist’s ways of doing and of being. So it is not a question of the theme in itself, but the potentially infinite variations that show the inexhaustibility of painting. It is like in music: think of jazz and of how many performers have played ‘Round about Midnight,’ and it is always a different piece even though the theme is the same.
[…] Often the viewer thinks that color is a thing in itself, un- changing and defined once and for all: red is red and that’s all there is to it. Instead, what contemporary painting has is the capacity—I’d even say the duty—to show and get across clearly that this is not true, that the same color placed next to another becomes something else, changes its own nature, that a color spread on a surface of three meters is different from the same color painted on three centimeters. It isn’t just the quantity that changes, but the quality, too, to say nothing of veils, of supports… These, not others, are the rules of painting and they are rules that are acknowledged and respected, but the final goal remains to allow color to express itself and to reveal all its evocative and emotional potential.
[…] This freedom still arouses fear: the fact that color explains nothing, that it does not explain itself, that there is not, in fact, any need for an explanation of a painting, and that what counts is individual experience of the senses—all this continues to frighten the public and even some critics. I believe that a part of the success of so-called Conceptual Art derives from its openness to explanation: behind a work that at first sight might seem disturbing, there is a concept that can be easily explained and at this point one believes that one has ‘understood’ something difficult, which is comforting and even flattering. In our Western culture, there is still a lot of idealism, there is a need to ‘see’ by way of concepts, while an experience of painting is above all a sensory experience.
WRITINGS – EXTRACTS
“An artist paints to have something to look at”, exhibition catalogue, Galleria Vinciana, Milan 1973 (reprinted in Claudio Cerritelli, Il corpo della pittura. Critici e nuovi pittori in Italia 1972-1976, Turin, Martano, 1985
[…] I am interested in unlimited images: I am not interested in lay- out, the painting that is already predictable, constructed a priori. If I start with any particular rhythm or scheme, I try to contradict it constantly, just as I try to contradict any juxtaposition or assonance of colors: I prefer for one color to flow into another, for the correspondences-references to be invented each time according to the ‘situation’ that is created. The things I see and think influence me in deciding the color I choose and where I put it, but they never inspire me with themes or motifs. […]
Letter to Matteo Lorenzelli, in Vittorio Matino, exhibition catalogue, Lorenzelli Arte, Milan 1991
[…] The question of the polyptych in painting, that is to say, a picture composed of several elements, has interested me for a long time because it permits me, simply by setting the parts alongside one another, to amplify a language made up of simple shapes. […]
[…] The polyptych enables the coexistence in the same work of contrasting chromatic scales and can combine various painting techniques without compromising the unity of the image. Each of the parts preserves its autonomy while remaining indispensable for a comprehension of the whole, even though this identity becomes significantly different simply on account of its vicinity to the other parts. […]
[…] While in past centuries, the polyptych presented contemporaneously different but interdependent “stories” to illustrate one subject, in abstract painting it mainly underlines the importance of the linguistic mechanism that unites the differences in the same simultaneous vision.
The more time goes by, the more I come to realize the immense resources of the painting idiom in which it is enough simply to set two canvases side by side to set off immediately a series of references or to open up new visual combinations. This is further confirmation that painting can only be the result of a certain cultural breadth. The truly great quality of modern civilization is the fact that it has made us understand that more than one culture exists, and the stronger a culture is, the greater will be its capacities for relations with others. For me, the polyptych is part of this attempt to enrich the language of painting by increasing its capacity for relationship. Painting often draws upon its own history. […]
[…] I have never loved, in painting, randomness, imprecision, or technical inadequacy, let alone the lack of a painting culture. I believe, furthermore, that so-called “spontaneity” is by no means a guarantee of truth and that liberating the pulsations of the unconscious does not automatically produce art. I do not know any artistic language worthy of our interest that does not have precise rules and that does not obey complex and well-defined aesthetic structures. Seeking truth or aesthetics again in the barbaric, the primitive, or the spontaneous leads inevitably to simplification and the grotesque.
“The Memory of Art”, lecture at the Biblioteca Civica of Villa Valle, Valdagno, December 1993
[…] A few decades ago, when the values of memory were still defended, artistic language maintained an expressive complexity and therefore generated a wide creative diversity.
Marcel Duchamp made fun of the museum, that is to say, the place par excellence of the memory of art, by introducing into it a urinal that itself, virtually, became art. But if we reflect on this, Duchamp’s gesture depended in any case on the memory of art, and in any case he needed a museum to sanctify his provocative action. But provocation works only negatively—in the sense that it takes something away. If it presupposes memory, at the same time it nullifies it, sets it at zero. It is not a constructive gesture, but a parasitic one, and this gesture remains unrepeatable; it cannot be combined with anything else, and it has no future. Kandinsky, on the contrary, while on one hand he questioned the celebratory iconography of painting, on the other he gave back to the practice of painting its own specific tools—space, form, and color—opening up the long path of abstract painting, helping us also to reread earlier art for its intrinsic formal qualities. In this way, Kandinsky brought about an important recovery of memory. […]
[…] What is certain is that when art always travels, it brings its baggage with it— the baggage of the aesthetic memory of the world: Memory imposes itself as the indispensable instrument for the articulation of an artistic language. It provides it with the means needed for expression, and so for communication.
“It has become even rarer”, in 25 anni di pittura a Trissino, exhibition catalogue, Scuola Media Statale A. Fogazzaro, Trissino 1994
[…] The great heritage of pictorial culture is heavily threatened by critics, the market, and television. The inexorable invasion of triviality risks making us soon incapable of seeing and understanding, just as painting will end up as a product imbibed by consumers of various surrogates. Quality and complexity will be ignored in favor of things easier to produce, duplicate, and digest. By lowering the linguistic level of painting, it is reduced to merchandise, and the disquiet that art inevitably captures in its webs is eliminated
[Tancredi adds]: “My interest is to make art by making painting, but I am not interested in making art without making painting, because I love painting.” The principle of loving in order to have the pleasure of doing gives meaning to one’s work, but it presupposes a culture that permits comparisons and therefore “differences.” Rarity, in fact, is distinguished by its difference in the context of a multiple and complex experience. Producing “meaning” may finally give a meaning to our days. On the other hand it is evident that in order to practice barbarities with serenity, one must have suitable tastes and appetites for them. Maybe for some of us it is still not too late.
Il colore della chimera, exhibition catalogue, Lorenzelli Arte, Studio d’Arte Zanolettti, Milan 1995
[…] Painting is the result not only of reflection on visual reality, but above all of rendering the implicit explicit, showing the invisible that the artist makes visible through his images (Klee). Painting thus becomes an epiphenomenon sufficiently complex and qualified to be able to take the place of visual reality.
If the relationship between criticism and painting attempts in some way to rationalize this process, or at least to design the territory where the act of painting takes place, poetry, like painting, does not want to explain anything, since it is in itself an essentially sensorial and intuitive form of expression. The difference lies solely in its use of linguistic material. Both draw on the imaginary and produce images and meaning, in spite of the different forms in which they are expressed: painting uses signs and colors, poetry works with words and assonances. […]
In ricordo di Piero Dorazio, testo scritto per Ciao Piero, omaggio a Piero Dorazio sul sito web dello Studio Angeletti di Roma, estate 2005
Memore pulsa sentimento/cromatico corale canto/
a pieni polmoni/“città” di mille e uno colori/non vuole scendere/
ma s’alza e ruota
frammentato/ritmato luminoso nell’aere