Francesco Lauretta turned sixty on January 14, among the painters of his generation one of the most viscerally attached to the brush and the saturated colors that spread over the canvas. It is also true that Lauretta, over the years, has tried many times to contaminate his painting with all kinds of inventions, perhaps aware of the teachings of James Lee Byars, whom he met during his Venetian adventures. However, the canvas and the brush continue to be absolute protagonists in his work, as is the case in his last one. Contemporary grey.
Who is Francesco Lauretta?
Born in Ispica, province of Ragusa, in 1964, Lauretta “escaped” (the word in her specific case fits better than “emigrated”) from the island in the second half of the 1980s to study in Venice, and then attended the artistic enclave of Turin in the early nineties and then ended up in Florence, where he currently resides. At least when she’s not wandering from a club to a museum with her strange academy with a spontaneous name. Santa Rosa Schoolwhere he “works” (the word is more appropriate than “teaches” to describe his teachings) to non-matriculated students of all genders and ages together with his partner Luigi Presicce.
Francesco Lauretta exhibition in Milan
This at the Giovanni Bonelli Gallery is not his first solo exhibition in Milan, but it comes at a particular moment in his life: sixty years are a frontier until the last century considered without possible returns in the span of a life, today in the era of post-everything that has become much more uncertain. For contemporary gray Lauretta has declared a series of patronages that are not trivial at all. Let’s try to list them. The trigger would come from reading Grey. The color of contemporaneity (2023), book in which the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk makes gray the symbol of reflective indifference, useful for abandoning everything commitment in favor of one “active mediation, at the service of a greater event.”A vision that fits perfectly with the feelings of Lauretta, by nature alien to any ideological position. However, Lauretta does not hide other influences: first of all the German pendulum swinging between Karlsruhe and Berlin, then – together with Sloterdijk – Peter Weibel, Thomas Macho and Byung-Chul Han, but also French historian Michel Pastoreau and Peter Handke of Colors of the Day.
Theoretical superfetation? Not at all. Lauretta is equipped with an extraordinary eruditionAn avid reader and frequenter of classical music, he has made storytelling a working method. For example, it is not the first time that painting is accompanied by writing in his exhibitions. In contemporary gray, The visitor is not offered a critic’s text, but rather eleven short letters that Lauretta addressed to Paul Cézanne. Almost certainly inspired by the writings in 1907 by Rilke to his wife after having gone to Paris to the Salon d’Automne to see the works of the French painter. Lauretta’s letters ideally accompany eight small canvases, all with the same title (We, Cézanne): This is a series of still lifes where some brightly colored elements emerge from the gray. The ideal correspondence with Cézanne (for Lauretta a master endowed with an unattainable posture) ends with a declaration by the latter: “until you have painted yourself gray, you are not a painter.”
The works of Francesco Lauretta exhibited at Giovanni Bonelli
The seventeen works present in this Bonelli exhibition were made during 2023: eight We, Cézannenext to it, of the same size, a We, Picasso while moving to a higher scale for other more appropriate figurations (the cemetery of a Sicilian church, a large crucifix, bathers on a platform facing the Mediterranean) to what is known from Lauretta. And here the surprise is even greater. In his previous production there is the portrait of a huge sicilian cassata (No title, 2021, oil on canvas, 180×220 cm) that can be considered emblematic of his skill in the use of color, in this case both sugary and burnt as is typical of the most popular Sicilian desserts. Seeing some of Lauretta’s recurring themes developed in large formats in different shades of gray on the walls of the Milanese gallery (repainted for the occasion in Pantone Cool gray 1 C) is truly fascinating. Because the non-color desired here by Lauretta inevitably awakens the memory (but not the nostalgia) of that supercolor that has been (until now) typical of her.
At the dawn of a new decade of her life, after many adventures, Lauretta does not seem to want to let go of the powerful Sicilian spirit that characterizes her.
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