Giorgio Cortenova (English)

Paintings and rooms

I can remember pretty well, even if some year has passed, my first visit to the atelier of Simone Butturini: I was hit by the concision of his works and the feeling of a slithering condition of alert in its conciseness. I was fascinated by his rough painting somehow “crept” and left on the painting as the abrasive action of a shaving light has “beamed” the images. I was surprised by the realistic intensity that such a young man, as in that time he was, gave to everyday scenes and at the same time the visionary bounce that involved them into a play of presences and absences, of ghosts with a body and bodies fading into light.  But it was electric light: bulbs hanged down from the ceilings of the rooms. What’s more, it was about switched-off, shaky, incinerated, bad screwed light bulbs.

Actually paintings reproduced interiors mainly, unmade and deserted beds, opened but empty wardrobes, small dining room tables with chairs without any usefulness: they aren’t there to give us a sense of familiar safety but to disturb our view, in order to insert the doubt and agony of the thinking mind in the onlooker’s eye.

Visiting his atelier that time, I realized immediately that Simone was deducing his poetic world and his language neither from the polite manners offered by the italian art nor from its unfortunate – but plastic – manners equally offered with generosity.

It’s not like that. He may have looked at some forgotten English. Perhaps he already knew Sickert, perhaps not. And why not, also some roar “products” of the “picturesque style”, where the light clings to paintings and papers and hides in the hole of the cloth: laughing but with irony, being palpable but with some risk for skin.

And then, in addition to the English and after a very mature and personal assimilation, there are Central Europeans, the Viennese before Schiele and then the Nordics: Munch and others. And the French? Well, the moods and languages of French lands were almost absent: that is a land full of “ghosts” of the soul only in the Symbolist zone. But those were visionary splinters that would have foster the Surrealisms; maybe Sigmund Freud was right when he didn’t understood what Breton wanted from him.

Simone Butturini, without copying anyone, had chosen his field. Then, as it’s known, there is life with its problems, with some satisfactions and many bitternessess. Provincial overview as well as travels – dreamed but left undone – and art exhibitions, were troubles for him. But looking at his works, every now and then I realized that something continued growing and many things were strengthening. Some digression on an excessively sweet and “respectable” landscape painting has been soon erased by the hurry to express other things. That is to say the will to remain inside of him with himself growing his own magic “faults” instead of chasing unnatural virtues.

Therefore, Simone continued growing his “painting sickness” and if he didn’t neglected masters out the town walls, he didn’t forgot those inside them, for example Silvano Girardello, with the recent season of strong “existentialist” roots.  In the meantime his painting was reaching gradually dizzy results and a particular expressive freedom, in an italian culture fond of elegance and formalism anyway. By now the “lack of elegance” of Simone Butturini is a certainty and I think that, for his fortune, it will never leave him.

I’m back to his atelier some week ago, in order to see his work and to discover his last paintings, because of this piece of writing and the art exhibition. Two works struck me: a portrait of Raffaello Bassotto (for once, it’s the photographer who sits…), a recent series of “rooms”: they aren’t a “topic” for him but a positively creative “nightmare”, and at last some landscapes whose subject is industrial archaeology and aqueducts of the Fifties, built with iron and bricks so usual in the North. Among that portrait and the landscapes there isn’t such a distance of styles, but most of all one would say there isn’t a distance of soul. Actually painting is deliberately deeply slovenly, banal and without style. Don’t be afraid or astonished by this terminology: this absence of beautiful surfaces, this ostracism that excludes the elegant and “cultured” brush-stroke, represents indeed Butturini’s real deep and cultured choice. That choice started to appear in the first works I said before and now it is confirmed and explodes with all its philosophical and sincere expressive genuineness.

Simone suggested us that some modernity principles have been misunderstood and some others have been underestimated. He says to us that Duchamp used to “polish” his “naked boy getting down the ladder”, because in those pigments “wood” tinged with form could triumph so in paintings could break out that secessionist and Central European unartisticity before being Cubist and Dada. Those lands of him looked at life trough death: that’s the true. And what’s more, there is Simone Butturini’s sense of language, his shy behaviour, his rough irony together with his stoical way to live everyday fatigues: his way to consider his own atelier as a non-wanted everyday adventure.

I like Simone’s atelier. It isn’t artificial, it seems a storehouse and it is indeed. He stores there both ideas and maybe those kind of sorrows and happinesses that enter from the window without letting you know and then go out the door moving quietly somewhere else their improvised luggage. I turn out the pages of paintings and skim through papers. His images, placed here and there create a whole world and in that world I can realize that there are vaste lands, but lacks air: he has taken it away, he has sealed it with lead seal in the surfaces and had made it vibrate in the cells of the painting: internally and externally. Then I realize that the same happens with light. Painting, as a sponge, hides it and keeps it jealously. Light is a value that hasn’t to be wasted. Light comes from inside or is only a fraud. Light doesn’t lights up but comes from lighting.

This art exhibition is full of works and somehow it’s a small anthology. But what I’ve surely tried to avoid is the boring, slavish culture exhibition. I didn’t wanted to follow his activity work by work, year after year, crossing knowledge lines between paintbrushes. I wanted to underline the true and authentic aspects Butturini wants to transmit to our conscience. Because this is what matters. To do it is enough and he succeeds in doing so.

 Giorgio Cortenova

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