In the beginning was the end: the beginning of every reasonable doubt.
There, let’s start from here and, in order to lose nothing of the reading of this “book”, let’s open the page on Giuseppe Livio’s new-found studio-thinking place. Located in a small village in eastern Sicily, overlooking its imposing “Mountain” and fully breathing in the perfumes of the nearby sea, it looks out on a street paved with the typical lava stone slabs that can make the passage of every single step resonate, and it is divided into rooms that follow one another, large and full of everything, in the shade of a luxurious citrus grove and a thin village church with a double campanile, present and reassuring at the same time. In this timeless world, tailored to the everyday life of our grandparents, there take shape the latest works of this eclectic artist, a man with craft and creative flair.
Thus it happens that those who know Livio’s artistic career cannot remain indifferent in perceiving his diverse expressive moods, varying in nature and extent, and such that each subject dealt with is driven by the inborn curiosity that characterizes him and leads him to look, with a mixture of frenzy and euphoria, for his natural creative, cathartic and liberating moment, eloquent and very strong, that tears and at once repairs. His works originate from precise mental deposits and are such that the stories expressed in them have a value going beyond mere aesthetic value, being permeated by a meaning of testimony, memory, that is to say everything that could be “likely memory”, and therefore with a vocation tending to the memorable.
Everything began at the end of 2015 with the desperate cry of the work “Transfer_01”, which laid bare a wound stemming from the restlessness of the life of its protagonist, not always related to his own personal life but also to the innate legacy of attitude in dealing with the themes and problems of everyday life and moving from there, with brushes, graphite and colours, its echoinh footsteps. The artist tells the story of our time through the symbolic use of some images so that the archetype of the “apple”, the indisputable protagonist of many of his works, whose form sometimes even wears an orange skin, indicates the origin of life beyond the boundaries of the Garden of Eden and produces, above all in the most recent works, an overcoming, an iconic release of the imaginary thanks to the arrival on the scene of singular presences, alchemical fusions of man and animal, with distinct gnomic or fantastic, mythical or quotative origin, but always and in any case showing marked incisiveness.
It seems that under the convulsive and repeated signs of his pencil some characters take shape that could move with casual appropriateness between the pages without a solution of “Metamorphosis”, except for the fact that a Manzonian “Providence” brings help and offers them a chance of salvation, of escape from “the four well-known walls” of the ever-smaller room where Gregor, the protagonist of Kafka’s story, awakens after a night of uneasy dreams, is imprisoned, forced to experience the absurdity of a condition of inexorable logic. Let us talk about the work “Transfer_15”, in which the recognizable protagonist wears the armour of a carapace and drawing back his hands, as he would do with the oars in a boat, faces his exodus, crosses his desert, ferried by a Charon who has the features of an oblong and not well-defined animal with sharp teeth, the body marked and “loaded in its thinness”: LoLeLu, a mixture of that Lynch-like animal, that Lion and that She-wolf that Dante encounters in his Inferno and the sight of which “frightened me greatly.” Everything flows, everything goes away, everything is changeable and in slow movement, except for that little man of black graphite, fixed to the ground like a nail, looking at the horizon, “beyond the hedge” and sheltering under his umbrella, not from the rain but from the sun, so that it does not burn him but warms him: illuminates him, without ever blinding him.
From this formal position Giuseppe Livio surpasses the sign of black on white and with work renewed in meaning interweaves a personal figurative grammar with a syntax of imaginative, mythical, primitive, metaphorical “physicality”, rich in impulses and having vivid colouristic brilliance. These are elements that are not easy to acquire, except after intense painting activity. An eloquent demonstration is in the series of paintings oscillating between “Transfer_04” and “Transfer_16.” In these works the geography of the composition presents a syncopated rhythm sometimes alluding to Afro masks of “primitive” origin, while the contrast between the figures is all played out in the symbolism of colour: white as waiting, red as passion-ardour, light blue as distraction-evasion, green as elaboration, and yellow as liberation-explosion.
Livio pushes painting to the point at which the observer’s eyes and that of the subject portrayed meet in nervousness, in hysteria, in the convulsions of signs, as in “Transfer_05” and “Transfer_07.” In these and other works, the centrality not only of the gazes but of the whole face is shot through with tension and turmoil. A mysterious destructive and catalyzing force pervades his portraits prompted by the real world and translated, through the bending of a mark or a brush, into “intensity of perception.”
His narration has nothing only flatly illustrative about it; in the saturation of space of a frame it aims at construction of complex architectures, overflowing with formal surprises and chromatic values. This refined and subtle sense of dissonance frees his works from foreseeable outcomes. His “constructions” which proceed through multiple syntheticisms, varying from forms analyzed in an often two-dimensional game that does not allow itself the pleasure of the canonical perspective, write his own personal “manifesto”; that of the person that wants to remain eccentric with respect to the loci of stereotypes and thus to stigmatize an iconography that is emblematic and at the same time direct and without filters.
Hence Livio’s gaze becomes a long one and the breath of his brushstrokes becomes slow and watery, and caresses the expressive horizon of the series of “Sea between”, a way to talk about the “Myth” that inhabits not only the Aeolian Islands but all the Mediterranean, and from this point of view thinks of the sea as a natural conjunction between all possible landing places in the world, at any latitude and at any time of observation.
He is able to dream and think of a sea that is not hostile to man. A sea that does not separate but which unites “men” with others.
Is it a way to reveal certain meanings to wake up appetites from the sleep of boredom of our day, or perhaps to establish a new beginning?
In the beginning was only silence: a space in search of its void.