Free thought on artistic intuitions: expression, form and synthesis of art in the early works of Paolo Salvati
Get in touch with Paolo Salvati’s work means giving yourself over to the extraordinary intuitive beauty of art. The philosopher Benedetto Croce stated that making art is an event that expresses the intuitive intensity of the artist who acts in freedom following the art’s intrinsic spiritual principle that presides over the constituent process.
At the beginning of the mid-seventies, however, artists faced the first expressive and of content obstacles determined by the new market rules and its governance.
Paolo Salvati, the undisputed master of modern art and the chromatic exponent of the second Roman Expressionism, immediately became aware of the impoverishment of art caused by art market and economic interests and the relative consequences on purity and exceptionality of artworks.
Unlike the contemporary artistic scenario, the Roman artist’s works focused on the personal and clear declaration of intent since the seventies.
Art as a narrator of man and the world departs from its function and fulfils the "commercial" needs, incorporating into a consumerist and globalized mechanism the tendencies of the artisans of the trade. Few artists resist to the temptation and are firmly anchored to the pure and intrinsic end of "making art", they tell about man in a deeply intimate sense, they are the Great Masters, rare fireflies in a deformed artistic contemporary. The price to pay for not submitting to the modern market is certainly the definitive exclusion from the critics and connoisseurs’ "showcase", dedicating their own work to the few followers of the pure art.
Paolo Salvati strongly wanted to defend his integrity as an artist and as a man so decided to protect his work from the modern nuances of art. In fact, in the last years of his production he affirmed that "too much late history becomes aware of its great Masters. History is made up of men who often are inadequate at the task assigned".
Paolo Salvati was a Great Master, he was discovered late by critics and art makers, but first of all he was a Great Man, in its profound sense of meaning, and his production tells the intimate thoughts of a great soul that found refuge in the art in order to give voice to its essence.
According to the American painter Jackson Pollock (Cody, 28 January 1912 - Long Island, 11 August 1956), "painting is self-discovery process" and "every good artist paints what he is". It is undisputed that Paolo Salvati shared Pollock’s opinion, he is one of the leading exponents of abstract expressionism and action painting, author of one of the most interesting and controversial pages of the history of modern American art. For the Roman author, in fact, in a present permeated of "artistic subculture", art represents the safe place in which expressing our own freedom, a favorite background in which representing through colour the most personal self-portrait.
A long introduction to a pleasant journey among some early works of the great Roman Master. An exciting journey through the colours and emotions of Paolo Salvati that I would like to inaugurate with a work of 1974, significant for the title and for the clear expression of the colour palette. Evasione di un’artista (Escapism of an artist) oil on canvas, 60x70 cm, 1974, is a prelude to the chromatic vivacity and expressive serenity of Paolo Salvati's latest production.
Composition, unquiet line and chromatics, indefinite context recall the most important work of Edvard Munch, symbolist and precursor of Expressionism. The Norwegian painter had a difficult life, particularly filled with spiritual distress. In he 1893 painted The Scream, a work which was introduced in the series The frieze of life which explores the main human themes: life, love, fear, death, melancholy, and anxiety. Every aspect is investigated in composition, in design as in chromatic rendering. A raw investigation with no nuances which confirms the caducity and finitude of the human condition. The man and artist Paolo Salvati, dramatically convinced of the "defeat of color” and “artistic intensity" required by contemporary art which is meteor generator and poor of great masters, in An artist's escape he had to face himself, hoping for the
ultimate regeneration of the soul with the infinite, crossing the physical data of human nature and looking to an imminent and necessary transcendent, merely expressed by purple on the sky horizon. The work defines the condition of deep anxiety and sense of uncertainty experienced by those who decide not to compromise with the rules of an increasingly impersonal present, deciding to safeguard their inner integrity.
Paolo Salvati took the first step towards a new breath for the soul in three different works linked by symbolism: Montagne Blu su Fronde Rosse (Blue Mountain on Red Fronds) 2003, Montagna Gialla (Yellow Montain) 1991 and Pietra Blu (Blu Stone) 2000-2008. It is appropriate to make a comparison with one of the first series painted by Paolo Salvati, and certainly one of the most intimately felt and experienced. From 1973 the Roman painter began experimenting colour by painting a canvas with a large central stone, angular and blue, surrounded by a wild and tormented landscape. It is the life journey of every single man made of obstacles to overcome and challenges to face passing through impervious and dangerous paths. In his first works of the series we clearly read the weight of human existence consisting of love, joys, labors, pains and tears which we must necessarily live and face to reach the awareness of a transcendent and ultimate serenity.
Blue Stone’s theme develops into the Mountains’ series, strongly influenced by the chromatic spectacle of the Red Fronds’s series. Paolo Salvati’s nineties works seem to echo his words, he was convinced that "even today the colour is the [..] true and only friend, who [..] consoles without ever reproaching me".
The tones became delicate, the landscapes soft, and the skies were filled with light. The work is charged with expressive poetry, the weight of existence has been addressed and incorporated into a feeling of ethereal peace. The chains of suffering and pain melt, reaching the awareness that, as the American writer Richard Bach states, "each of us is in truth, an image of a great seagull, an infinite idea of freedom, without limits".
Paolo Salvati did not bend to the market’s rules, maintaining his integrity as a man and as an artist, and he opposed to the defeat of colour operated in contemporary art by taking refuge in colour itself, the only tool which gives material and visual concreteness to soul’s freedom and to the personal idea of art.
Transcendent atmospheres, on the other hand, characterize the series of dreams: Sogno di Primavera d’alta montagna (Dream of High Mountain Spring), 1974; Sogno d’estate (Summer Dream), 1975; Sogni di Primavera, 1994 (Dreams of Spring) that carry spectator’s eye in a deep inner stillness.
The canvas is prepared to welcome a cascade of colour where the images take shape. Images just sketched where the theme of the seasons is the narrator of dreams. They are inner dreams, expressions of the ultimate peace reached by the Great Master who, although exhausted by the innumerable obstacles imposed by life, found in the colour breath and valid refuge, where he can be himself, without wearing masks.
Oil colours and canvas are for Paolo Salvati the inkwell and parchment for the poet, instruments designed to create poetry, the artist through colour, the poet through words. In these works the influence of Impressionism is evident especially in comparison with the series Ninfee, dreams of aquatic landscapes painted by Claude Monet since 1909. In these works the impressionist artist's eye is completely absorbed by the vibrant colour game that these flowers, together with the sky, create on the water’s surface which becomes almost the main theme. Likewise, Paolo Salvati in painting the series of Sogni (Dreams) lets himself get carried away by the game of reflections that sunlight creates on nature paying attention to the smallest detail. As the impressive technique of painting en plain air, the Roman artist began from observation to create an image permeated with sensations and impressions, making the theme of the dream the language through which speaking the unconscious perceptions emerged during the life’s journey.
Looking at the indecipherable colors, nature, dreams and horizons, the stream of consciousness on Paolo Salvati’s works ends with three paintings that portray human presence, albeit sketched, in the context of art. A house and a village tell us about people, a subject hardly represented in his art. It is in fact through
nature and its own colours that Paolo Salvati loves to describe the transience of human existence and the state of mind people feel during their life.
In Dalla Pastorale (From Pastoral) 1976, Village (Paese) (1978) and Invented Landscape (Paesaggio inventato) 2008, the house is representation of human presence, ideologically interpreted as a nest, shelter, beating heart of everyday life, a place where the day begins and ends. Home as a sense of belonging, a home as a home, a home as a family, a home as a sense of self. However in his works the human element is just mentioned, a weak presence dominated by the chromatic triumph of the nature that surrounds it.
Dreamlike dimension which embellishes the drawing, soft lines underlining the absolute stillness at the foundation of the artist's sensory digressions, pastel shades rendering self narrative into chromatic terms.
Paolo Salvati’s intention to remain faithful to his artistic language and not submit to the contemporary market’s rules obliged him to accept the exclusion of his art, too powerful and not malleable by the fake gurus of art that since the seventies modified the specifications through which give meaning to art. The great Master, therefore, found himself isolated, deciding that his works will communicate his personal message to future generation. In fact From Pastoral and the Invented Landscape testified the artist’s serene abandonment of artistic solitude, aware that he will not be able to enjoy the appreciation of his works as masterpieces, but intimately sure that in the future his art can have justice. History, like all the sciences, is governed by laws, universal principles that are constantly repeated in the same way and which, as attested by the Italian philosopher, historian and jurist, Giambattista Vico in the seventeenth century, are the reference point for the birth and the maintenance of nations.
Paolo Salvati was profoundly convinced of this, and this certainty is preserved in the extraordinary range of colours of the two paintings, which tell the integrity of a great man and artist who, despite his loneliness, fiercely maintains his language and his artistic creed. Village, oil on canvas painted in 1978, is certainly the work that best expresses the profound meaning of abandonment. An image permeated with expressionism, the artistic movement in which Paolo Salvati was one of the cornerstone. After directly observing an image the artist elaborates it in every facet swayed by his feeling, creating a drawing that expresses the more intimate and profound sensations perceived through the observation of reality. The immediate image is that of a small village abandoned by its inhabitants, in the inevitable exodus towards the cities and towards the hope of a better future. It remains a private reality of its fuel, man and his daily life, steeped in the memory of the past and destined to a progressive death.
We see a long and narrow street flanked by low buildings. A road that turns towards an indecipherable and indefinite horizon. In the foreground the nature in the form of disordered bushes and a tree where only the trunk is visible. The lines and the colour recall the Blue Tree and Blue Stone series, a visual demonstration of Paolo Salvati's most intimate belief.
Village expresses the sense of abandonment felt by the man and artist Paolo Salvati towards a contemporary situation that speaks a language too different from his own. The Great Man and the Great Master are described in the same scene, symbolically represented by the blue tree in the foreground, ready to face a journey towards a destination that only the path can discover. It is a sensory and mental journey rather than physical trip, discovering the Self and looking for answers to the atavistic questions of the human being: who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we destined? Rather than gave defined answers to questions we all have, Paolo Salvati allowed his work to be the medium by which his answers will be appreciated by future generations.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, the essential signature of the twentieth century's artistic history, stated that "My independence, which is my strength, implies loneliness, which is my weakness". Paolo Salvati, through his art, managed to transform the weakness of solitude into extraordinary expressive power, able today to count and recognize the great Master among the main authors of contemporary art history. The art of Paolo Salvati is a journey across the heart of life and hope because "Living without hope means giving up living" (Fedor Dostoevskij).
Art historian, Dr. Giada Boasso
Turin, May 2016