Work-Spirit, Work-Heart: Work-Creature
Artists... extraordinary ferrymen of dreams! Like Onorio Bravi, our painter-actor from Romagna who, with a substantial amount of recent works – more than 100 covering a time span from 2005 to 2010 – presents us our “Contingent Moments” for this exhibition travelling between Forlì, Portico and San Benedetto and Cesena.
These paintings are, more than ever, landscapes of the soul, diffused self-portraits presented through the atmospheres of the “heart”. Then, also, rigorous and sober engravings which leave nothing to virtuosity: extraordinary xylographs which appear to our gaze like magic Eastern carpets and graffiti: it all reflects the magical figures of the his dreamlike world. The work of an artist is always made of Spirit, Blood, Brain, Nerves and Memory, to use Cristina Campo’s words.
And then it is also Dream and Emotion, I would add, in a strange, unknowable eccentric concentration which leads to the totality of what can be defined a Work-Creature. «[...] Blood that flows, nerves that capture, heart that collects, brain that filters, spirit that transforms». It is exactly what happens in the painting-painting by Onorio Bravi, because his complete work truly condensates all his life. A mirroring which recreates life itself. As is the case for Mansfield, recreating means «deeply receiving, like a plant does with the sap that nourishes it and the sun that heats it: it means accepting and understanding an existence in all its meanings, in order to give it to art as a whole ».
“Contingent Moments” is a painting cycle which represent the full result, the final and dense synthesis of our artist’s production. A conjugation, in the classical-modern sense of form and taste for a painting which feels, more than ever, the «absolute need for native spontaneity, for a pantheistic, continuously renewed virginity of the heart». Because the true artist always looks at life at length. It is in confusion that you find the deepest love, the one which makes us feel completely part of life itself. The paintings by Onorio Bravi offer us this lifeline... «the sea, the evening which stretches onto the horizon, the thousand rising sounds preceding sleep, a woman’s singsong: details which palpitate like a tenuous, miraculous light flickering against the backdrop of a shade and actually seem to draw life from its dying. All its vibration possibility goes to them, making sure that the hour is accomplished in its full meaning and becomes, so to speak, eternal » (C. Campo).
They are all works of rhythm and colour. Landscapes and figures where everything is made necessary: complete development, plastic representation atmosphere, state of mind mirroring a “state” of things.
Everything here becomes a natural dominion of the fantasy event solved in itself. This is how dreamlike reality merges with emotion like a single naked life truth. The flowers, the shadows of stylised who crystallise in the earth or in the sky: «metaphysical hints in the drama where they have participated by chance and even fatedly» (C. Campo). Onorio Bravi in his imaginative representation does not recount but rather, through pictorial flashes, becomes a living and involved part of the authentic definition of his painting. Hegel rightly maintained – in his Aesthetics - that «art has become a tool which the artist can freely handle in a uniform way according to subjective ability regarding any content, of whatever kind it may be».
Therefore, in Onorio Bravi’s paintings, everything is wind, immovability, silence and colour: landscape and vision, reverberation and dream. The sea becomes a «great water well» and the pine trees which tower, solitary and clear, against the leaden sky seem to creak like masts on a ship. This is now they enter and remain forever in our memory. His works tell us of inevitable loneliness, of a secret individual path where the stylised “human-shadow” shapes intertwine in the air of dreamlike games of enigmas and absorptions. The expectation: as if we were expecting a revelation, as if at the end of our existence there were nothing but «the path blindly walked». A world which seems recreated in the mysticism of a warm symbolic sunset, wrapped in the rustling of silent flowered lands or in the golden full moons of nocturnal dancing, which in the subdued and enchanting profiles of naked female figures are magically transformed into mellow and surreal backgrounds.
These primeval solitudes are like obsession. Because true revolutions always occur in silence! Other voices, other landscapes... other distant, lost, proud visions.
Deformed dominions of a mystic non-time pressing against the heart. Essences with a miraculous taste. «[...] not fever, not delirium, not chain, though exquisite, of hallucinations. [Because] the way to Paradise lost is probably only persuasion (always formed very slowly); “when things happen, in the most natural way, everything is unparalleled, more wonderful”» (Cristina Campo).
Some paintings show light and spiritual reverberation illuminating the traces of symphonic darkness. Everything becomes gravitational, also because the lightning of mind and heart keeps crossing, uninterruptedly. Even in the pale, diaphanous light, everything can bloom, as if necessary for life.
In these tables there is something converting us to the truth of the dream as to the law of gravity, in the centre «from whose dark threshold they will slowly turn to greet grace again, in a painful thought of love, for those who, due to the law of gravity, they have lost or shall have to lose » (C. Campo).
Often real painting is a deep well and abyss which mysteriously melts us into life. In Onorio Bravi’s paintings there is a wonderful awareness of the “knot” which strongly ties our souls in the medial function of beauty which alone can place the sacred seal on imagination. Like a pure accent of truth, capable of transmuting over time. Because time cannot be blurred: not even when the music is immature and the soul broken. It is the loved or forced passage of human existence – as Shakespeare reminds us – through “moral violence”, or the grace of art, which has always led to the new man.
The paintings by Onorio Bravi are undoubtedly on the side of the second discriminating feature and for this reason they become poetry twice: simple and radiantly bare, essential to grammarise the transformative soul which rejects any lie. Pictorial layers with great dynamic power. Focal point, centrality of poetic language which looks onto the outpost of contemporary art, offering itself to the time of life which is always deep charity.
Because enchantment is often clear and perfect in its expressive circumstance. «The statement of the work - writes Achille Bonito Oliva – is the result of cultural memory and at the same time of its loss». This is why animistic stories seem to inflame Onorio Bravi’s tables, remembering and stripping the daily framework which belongs to us and connotes us. The landscapes and memory of the Algerian lands which are ingrained in Onorio Bravi’s soul come back to live through the enchantment of painting, like the musical landscapes of a dreamt Russia, enchanted and deserted, immersed in the visionary silence of endless blue nights or in the reverberation of hybrid golden spires. Therefore, when the night falls or the sun rises coldly in our mind, also the clearness, loyalty and rhythm predefine instinctive patterns which and are imposed as the best seals of the world, measuring life inch by inch, in its secret labyrinths.
The artist gives all this back to us from a perspective which is rooted in the depth of a prospective strabismus which pertains to the Heart and Mind. In the drifting of our time, this is where the artist presides and travels across the road of utopia and dream extension, to deconstruct each ephemeral system of human distancing.
He, the Artist who imagines, keeps and transforms everything... he is the one who has always built spirals and borders which shelter our earthly privations. Like a shield, a sort of spiritual compensation. Departures and arrivals, paths, experimentation and displacing shipwrecks in the oblique and elliptic movements of time.
If we think about it, we realise that the magic of art lies in a double paradox: in the striking immediacy of a gaze which captures its empathy and in the deep abyss of its enigmatic language. In order to reach the light it needs to draw from our imagination’s storage places, it needs to “cross” us, in order to sympathetically emerge. Verticality of image and thought. The work of art also bases everything on “re-launching”, on a second date, on return and distancing. Sometimes also on a flash of lightning, as in any love at first sight. Because «the treasure of art is not only the storage of imagination, but also its measurement» (A. Bonito Oliva).
Therefore, in this magical season of grace and trial, these emblematic constellations of gravitational fantasy which Onorio Bravi offers us are fixed in the high fire of the Spirit where only the moon blooms. For that “magical breath” which Onorio Bravi is able to evoke and perpetuate for the “here and now” of our short life.
translated by Elena di Concilio