GIANDOMENICO DI MARZIO
“THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE PIGMENTS”
Milan, July 2011
Paolo Manazza is part of the generation of those artists that still nowadays, in the mare magnum of the new contemporary art codes, is trying to explore the unlimited possibilities of the painting. He is dealing not with figuration, about which not just in Italy there is a (not so edifying) dispute; he is wondering if it is desirable or not to go back to the technique supremacy on the footsteps of the tradition in contrast with the new bi-dimensional trends. Manazza pushes as far as the painting viscera wondering about the meaning and the strength of the colour on the shape, which is in an osmotic but also servile relation with the colour itself. The colour research, just apparently on the footsteps of the great fathers of the Abstract Expressionism, is more about an existential and a spiritual dimension that is part of the needs of our historical period. More pregnant, observing the chromatisms and the vibrations produced by the matching of the backgrounds and their transparencies, appears in his case the study of Wassily Kandinskij; according to him art have to move, to create a deep direct new contact able to penetrate into the “ego” of who is observing, while the shapes have to create a harmony to obtain an effective contact with the soul. The artist’s hand, in Manazza’s case, draws from the will of playing with the power and the brightness of the pigments to create a mystic, sentimental, transcendent, mysterious effect. In other words the wish of giving life to a completely different reality where the painting, as in Mark Rothko’s lesson, becomes a window open in a transcendent world, capturing ourselves in its unmistakable and intense “revelations of absolute emotions”.
“A NATURAL PROPENSITY TO INFINITY”
Milan, October 2011
The relationship between art and photography is “old.” Baudelaire did not like the mechanical reproduction, attributing only documentary value, decrying the sentiment of idolatry for the “real” that it was raising. Even the great artist and dandy Theophile Gautier stigmatized: the ne faut Où voir que le beau, notre public will cherche que le vrai.
Marcel Duchamp will, as usual, freeing it to clear the picture from his pure retinal to give it meaning and mental content invisible, opening the way to use that it will make the historic avant-on until you get to the Sixties and the ” conceptual “and the various meanings that the definition is going to take time. After that burst of Pop Art and the combine-paintings, where the photo is no longer an alternative to the representation, but the intrusion into the everyday world of painting and, in short, you get to deideologizzato our postmodern age in which we can freely access the palimpsest of history and build your unscrupulously Phantheon reference.
Here we are finally talking about Paul and his Manazza “Contemporary Landscapes of the Soul” made precisely weaving painting and photography, bringing to the canvas “transfusion” of actually contaminating them pictorially, tautological going to create a short circuit between art and life in search of ‘ invisible essence, the soul.
I could continue to bore the reader with learned references and citations as the lawyer of the province, a thousand times played by Vittorio de Sica, who invokes Cicero and Plato, but I would do an injustice to try to qualify in Manazza leaning to “noble fathers” .
Italy (homage to David Lynch), East West, Puberty Cancelled, No Future-these are the titles of some works in the exhibition-“pierce” the retina and go straight to the mind of the viewer without the need for intellectual mediations. Pure, immediate, strong communication.
So for the Balanced tree, for Three Levels (homage to Gustav Klimt) or Beauty in ambush, where the languages of painting and photography to penetrate the formal perfection in a perfect balance so that the solidity of the iconography focuses on evocative suggestions depicted, leaving in the second instance the analysis of construction techniques.
Already in the previous shows, made works inspired by the traditional system of informal, Paul Manazza had given proof of “knowing how to hold the brush.” Now, in this latest venture, Paul uses the full range available to him on the keyboard of languages to accommodate its natural propensity to infinity.
And the writer has no doubts. Welcome to the club, dear Paolo!
“THE PAINTING OF PAOLO MANAZZA”
Venice, May 2016
Instructions For Use: Begin application in the corner
farthest from the door in order to assure an easy exit.
Dutch Boy Paint Co.
I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m on
the same train as Marcel Duchamp.
Willem De Kooning
The year 1959 was a ”good year,” as they say in the wine cellars of the world, for the art of painting: in New York, Willem de Kooning was doing some of the best work of his career; while across the Atlantic, Paolo Manazza got his first glimpse of sunlight in Milan that same year.
Art criticism all too often has the bad habit of speaking in terms of decades, but these ten-year measurements never quite add up into neat packages, cookie-cutter epochs, uniform cartons each containing twelve identical eggs fresh from the farm. Just look where the famous pre-programmed Soviet ”five-year plans” and Maoist ”great leaps forward” took socialism. ”Progress” in the arts is more complicated than that. Art does not evolve in clockwork units, ten years of Abstract Expressionism followed on cue by ten of neo-figurative Pop Art; Pandora’s Box actually reveals its contents more in the manner of those Russian dolls that open to reveal another, another and another.
”Time” in art is not linear, nor do individual sensibilities necessarily coincide in any given epoch; Balthus was a contemporary of Pollock. Official history often seems a saga of ambition and conformity, but the enigma of personal inspiration defies chronological continuity, taking part instead in the cyclical swirl of an eternal return. Art history is not a calendar, but rather a labyrinth.
Paolo Manazza took his first steps on the high road of aesthetic discernment at an early age. ”When I was six years old, for some unknown reason I began incessantly pestering my mother with the same question: Why? Why, in her opinion, is one object more beautiful than another?” Understanding the criteria by which the Beautiful was judged became a kind of obsession for the child, one that would not go away easily.
”If I recall correctly, it was around the age of ten that I started to look at every painting I encountered, whether in museums or in books, and to copy them to the best of my abilities, entire or detail-by-detail. . .”
These first juvenal adventures focused on pompier painters and on the mid-19th century school known as the Macchaioli, the Impressionists up to and including Van Gogh, and soon by way of Kandinsky and Matisse, leading him to the American abstract painters of the Fifties and their European counterparts: De Staël and Afro, but also Chighine, Tancredi and many others.
Paul Gauguin worked as a stockbroker, Alexander Calder was trained as an engineer, Jean Dubuffet managed his family’s vinicultural enterprise, the sculptor Tony Smith worked as a successful architect; in the Sixties, Carl Andre, Vito Acconci, Marcel Broodthaers gave ”poet” as their job description. Painters in New York have been known to moonlight as cooks, taxi drivers, picture framers, wine salesmen, carpenters. Even as writers. . .
Paolo Manazza studied theoretical philosophy at the Università Statale, in Milan.
What effect did these studies have on his pursuit of painting?
In the beginning, I thought, it was a positive influence. I believed that knowing for example the history of the theory of color from Goethe to Itten to Wittgenstein could be of use to me. It wasn’t. Colors form an alphabet, a musical alphabet. Goethe studied color from a rational approach. I use color in order to dance. Of course one must have an intimate acquaintance with this alphabet, with its grammar and its syntax. But once you have mastered this language, this music, all you have to do is to take pleasure in playing it.
Like Goethe writing about color, Clausewitz wrote about war but he never saw blood on a battlefield. Philosophers speculate about the game of art, but what about the real players?
There are paintings by Kandinsky that make me faint with joy. I often go back to look at one from 1910 in particular, ‘Winter Landscape with Church,’ a small oil on panel with almost unarrivable juxtapositions of cinabro red and pink, azure and cobalt blue. That same year Kandinsky wrote: ‘Sentiments like fear, joy or sadness are of less interest to the artist. The artist will always seek more to call forth more delicate feelings, feelings that have no name.’
At a certain point Nicolas de Staël understood it from his inmost himself. Because once the syntax and the grammar of color has been assimilated, there is no more for your to understand. You need only to make room for the light to flood in. An expression particularly apt when it comes to color, which without light does not exist. Thus ‘color sense’ as you referred to it, is found in the blinding skies of Van Gogh, in the windswept landscapes of Monet, in the fire storms of Turner, but also obviously in the carnal rot of Lucien Freud and the nightmare compositions of Bacon. Still today I often lose myself in certain early works of Titian and in the landscapes in background of altars from the 14th and 15th centuries. Recently in Amsterdam I saw a show of Rembrandt’s late paintings, who when I was a youngster was not a great favorite, but I remained bowled over by his total chromatic freedom and by the layering of the color he used to represent cloth and flesh. There are details in the late Rembrandt that rival certain masters of abstraction of the 20th century and of today. This is ‘color sense,’ its universality. Even today I’m still trying to aspire to certain placements of one color next to another in the gold backgrounds of 13th century panels. Color, well laid down, has no time. There exist only the light and the sound they emanate. Overthe last ten years I have progressively come to learn that the only philosophical instruments of painting are our eyes, our hands and arms, and the mind guided by the heart.
What are the reference points that you steer by?
Among the old masters, apart from the absolute pinacle Merisi, I’ve alwas loved a little known artist named Benozzo Gazzoli, and others of the Ferranese school, such as Cosmè Tura and Ercole de’ Roberti. La Flagellazione of Piero della Francesca for me remains a painting of the third millenium. Then there are the figures that Tiepolo created with a small paintbrush using miniscule touches of black. I have tried to copy them to the point of dreaming about them with open eyes. I love Monet and Sisley, certain extraordinary flashes of color on the palette of Bonnard, and the yellows and pale blues of Van Gogh. Again, Kandinsky, Matisse. . . In sum, all of the true painters of the last eight hundred years. The beauty of Picasso works from the Thirties is something I can talk to the point of driving my friends mad. And don’t get me started on Rothko. Or Barnett Newman, or Nicolas de Staël.
What form does your ”mental narrative” take during the act of painting; what goes through your mind?
In the beginning I think that I have a real grip on it, and then when I start painting, almost immediately I feel that it’s not me who’s deciding, it’s the painting making all the decisions on how to go. Paintings, if you know how to listen to them, talk to you. All you have to do is to learn how to listen for it, for the light coming from the color. . . In the end you become the instrument of the narration, rather than the narrator himself.
The roundabout roadmap Paolo Manazza was to follow took him always back toward art, a diversionary tactic leading him to paint paintings while at the same time writing about painting from the position of expert reporter on the world of international art investment in the weekly economics section of Italy’s most prestigious daily newspaper, the Corriere della Sera. At the same time he found time to establish ”ArtsLife,” today the most popular internet site for contemporary art in Italy.
On first view, this may seem to demonstrate all the classic symptoms of split personality, but on second examination it corresponds to a prophecy made by Marcel Duchamp at a conference held late in his life, at Houston Texas: In the future the true artist will go undergound.
”There is no such thing as being anonymous,” said Willem de Kooning. Private, and clandestine, are two operative words used by Paolo Manazza to describe his modus operandi as secret agent, as artist/chronicler, someone actively painting while at the same time acting as expert in contemporary art actuality. Vasari, fully equiped with computer communications technology. In this cybernetic world, ”anonymity” functions as an invisibility.
Popular folklore offers several super-heroes wearing two hats at the same time, by day an unassuming Everyman, and by night a dashing larger-than-life swashbuckler: Batman, Superman, El Zorro, Robin Hood, the Scarlet Pimpernel. The mask, the double life, adds a certain conspiratorial zest to their mission, a hint of the picaresque to their narrative. In the dual roles assumed by Paolo Manazza, one thing is certain: painting at all times remained the constant, the ruling priority.
”I would say that even in the years when I was still painting clandestinely and appearing only in the public role of art critic, in reality I lived and thought with painting, and within painting. . .”
Paolo Manazza was ceaselessly pursuing the life of a painter throughout this underground professional period until April of 2008, when he knew the time had come to remove the mask and reveal his painter’s face to the world.
In keeping with his stance of unconventionality, the locality chosen for his first exhibition was a novel one. It took place under the auspices of Maimeri, the biggest manufacturer of artists’ painting materials in Italy, at their foundation in Milan.
The concept of the show possessed more than a mere pinch of irony, of topsy-turvy table-turning, as announced already by the show’s eclectic title: ”Vice Versa, an art critic’s paintings presented by painters.” The catalogue of this first show stated that ”this diverting role-reversal has seen many other instances throughout the world. Paolo Manazza, expert in the art market, talent scout and curator of numerous exhibitions, is exhibiting a selection of his own works painted between 2005 and today. . .”
A number of canvases in the show were sold. With the money earned, the artist-critic bought from the Maimeri Company a large quantity of paint supplies, hundreds of cans of pigment, and at the party that followed he gave them away as gifts to young artist friends. Paolo Manazza is, after all, an expert in the economics of art.
If Paolo Manazza had already begun delineating his path in early childhood when he interrogated his mother on the criteria of beauty, in the art world he soon came to understand that Beauty was a subject to be avoided altogether.
So-called ”Contemporary” art too often attempts to teach lessons about beauty by explaining it rather than by embodying it. Imagine a child from the outer urban fringes who ventures into the city center and chances to enter a museum. In one room he encounters works by artists –from Otto Dix to Leon Golub to Barbara Kruger–divulgating the dogma of the ugliness of life, supposedly to awaken his proletariat consciousness. Then the child wanders into another room displaying several monochromes by Ellsworth Kelly. These vast canvases radiate nothing other than pure ”unpolitical” color. He returns home to the banlieue, revolutionized not by the agitprop but by the demonstration of sheer beauty alone.
Recently I asked Paolo Manazza about his stubborn loyalty to the painter’s craft in the face of the new technological genres which inform contemporary art. The question met with a certain indifference. I had, in fact, asked why he followed the path of painting instead of conceptual photography, video, or computer installation art. . .
”I don’t follow the path of painting,” he answered. ”Painting follows mine. I don’t think it makes any sense to classify art according to the support used in a particular work. What counts, the only thing that counts –regardless of whether it is on canvas, projected on a screen, on a wall, in the air, or anywhere else– is that it works.”
Mimmo di Marzio has written that Paolo Manazza ”belongs to that generation of artists who still today, in the vast sea of the new languages of contemporary art, persists in exploring the infinite possibilities of painting. . . The research of color only in appearance on the track of the grand fathers of abstract expressionism, arrives at a dimension more existential and spiritual that meets an integral part of the needs of our time. . . The soul is a pianoforte. . . The hand of the artist, in the case of Manazza, touches the desire to play with the force and the luminosity of pigment to arrive at a mystical effect, sentimental and trascendant. . . ” a striving toward the ”revelation of absolute emotion” of Mark Rothko.
One time I carried home a gallon bucket of oil-based Prussian blue house-paint, in order to paint the floor of my apartment in downtown New York. ”Dutch Boy Paint” is a common brand in America, and the name always made me think of the Dutch-born painter Willem De Kooning, who once earned his living as a house-painter. There were Instructions for Use printed on the label: Begin application in the corner of the room farthest from the door in order to assure an easy exit. The instructions reminded me even more of De Kooning.
In painting: Willem De Kooning and Arshile Gorky; in jazz: Miles Davis and Theolonius Monk. For Paolo Manazza, De Kooning has remained a lodestar, the star that guides his painter’s caravan.
”After a visceral thirty-year love for De Kooning I always tried to incorporate the American ”Informale” (i.e., Abstract Expressionism) with the Italian, French and European, an ideal communion between the United States and the abstraction of the Old Continent.”
Willem de Kooning: ”The French artists have some ‘touch’ in making an object. They have a particular something that makes them look like a ‘finished’ painting. They have a touch that I am glad not to have.”
Standing in front of a painting is like creating one, only in reverse: a re-creation, taking it apart and trying to put it back together again. It means going back in time and mentally, visually, going through stage by stage the steps that went into the manual creation of the painting. A large part of the ”viewer’s” duties is to reconstruct the way the painter went about the job of painting himself into, and then out of, a corner. A documentary film, ”Picasso Paints a Painting,” shows this with all the rollercoaster suspense of Hitchcock at his best: an immaculate escape, made without leaving behind no trace other than what paint reveals on canvas.
The spectator/inspector, in all of his proverbial innocence, arrives at the scene after the crime has been committed, and, whether he likes it or not finds himself sequestered on the spot as eye witness: ”Please tell the court in your own words. . .” His job is to justify his credentials as a viewer, to investigate the evidence and build a case against the alleged perpetrator of the deed. Please do not touch.
”What does it mean?” The imperative principle on which Western thought has been based since the ancient Greeks. The obligation to explain what it means is not necessarily enforced in civilizations outside the Occident. Yet in the jurisdictions of most Western societies this duty holds true –in varying degrees– for citizens in all stations of life, whether hapless bystander or professional critic.
Paolo Manazza is under endictment for not only making paintings but he is also responsible for explaining them. Let’s start with the fabrication, then move from the how to the Why. Questions of procedure.
Where do you start?
Generally speaking, I lay down a ground: one single color or sections of colors. I often start on several canvases at the same time. I use only oil paint, therefore it’s necessary to always let them dry thoroughly as I search out the composition, the velature, the overlays and chromatic juxtapositions that make the sense. I believe that colors are like persons: one influences the other and vice-versa. Since I was very small I’ve always associated each color with a sound. But then, also in music the croma or octave is a musical note executed with a duration of internal value. It often happens that I leave one painting alone for days on end while I work on another one. Then, passing in front of it, I ”hear” certain tonalities which bring me back to start laying down another color in order to continue. And so on, and so forth, until I feel it is finished.
Georges Braque said he knew when a painting was finished when he had ”eliminated the idea.” How do you decide?
The painting is finished when it says so itself, even with certain parts remaining apparently still ”open.” Stopping at the right moment means, in substance, crystalizing the image and the chromatic composition at a point where it projects the maximum of intense formal energy. To give space to that form which opens the portal of the invisible. What I want to say is, that the mysterious ungraspable quality of any work, whatever its content may be, is a quality alluded to by words like ”lyrical” or ”sublime.” De Kooning was right when he said that the goal of painting is mainly to capture the ”nothing” of a painting.
Venice five hundred years ago, Montmartre one hundred years ago, Milano or New York fifty years ago. . . Today, what do painters talk about when they meet?
I have always hated going to gallery openings: except for the chance to talk with my artist friends, and with those rare few cases of art dealers and art collectors who really understand. I get precious insights and suggestion from my artist friends. Also practical advice. For example, Davide Nido once took me aside and whispered excitedly, ‘Don’t tell anyone else but if you go to Brico, the building supplies store, they have a spreader and a special type of bitumen that, if you mix it with a collant and resin, makes a fantastic primer for your canvases.’ Talking about the art market is a tremendous bore, but I love to hear about technical tricks of the trade, and I always learn something about how to put down pigment. Everybody has some new lesson to share. Since Davide Nido told me about his secret formula, I’ve been using it with great results ever since. Brico chain-store is a treasure trove for painting supplies.
The work of Paolo Manazza possesses an inevitability belonging to its specific time and place. To travel to the localities where painters of the past have labored is pleasurable and enlightening: the dusty golden light of Rome, the silver lunar nightscapes of Venice, the Cartesian lucidity of Paris, the perfunctory browns and grays of London. . . And what can be said of Arles, Aix en Provence, the Baltic or Bodensee. . . Where do artists go on the weekend? A single humdrum Sunday afternoon has been known to linger for a century.
Each nation expresses itself in a heraldry of ancestral color all its own, and each city has its own climatic conditions, whereby color is just as much the result of temperature and humidity as of odor. Eye, ear, and nose.
The American painters, whether Childe Hassam or Maurice Pendergast, who learned the ”science” of light in Paris, found when they returned to New York that even the faithful execution of the American landscape looked all wrong, and bore little resemblance to that of the French capital. They had followed the instructions to the letter, but something was lost in the translation: American light in spring and summer is syropy, humid, sultry; and in winter it is harsh, glaring, dry, and almost hurts the eyes in its intensity. Art ”appreciation” must adjust to locality; circumstances are variable.
What then of the climatic conditions of the individual sensibility? The Mohicans are well known for knowing how to cover their tracks.
Willem de Kooning once famously said that ”painting is a glimpse.” A statement which is no great help in itself, but one that can provoke thought. This is exactly the sort of exasperating statement for which De Kooning was famous: you sort of ”know what he means.” The same is true of Hans Hoffmann’s theory of ”push-pull.” But for a painter to really explain how he goes about painting, is like asking Glenn Gould to explain how to play the Goldberg Variations.
Paolo Manazza is a practioner of what many see as an archaic art, a heresy of anarchistic alchemists, almost an act of piracy: not painting itself, but a certain approach to painting. The death of painting, like that of God, continues to be proclaimed each year. Let us not forget that it was Marcel Duchamp who purchased the readymade coffin, and it was the Pop artists of New York who drove in the nails.
When the great impresario of Pop Art, Leo Castelli, was asked if he had killed Abstract Expressionism, he replied that he had only removed the bodies. But when the dust settled, it became clear that the clan of painters were still standing in the field and showed no sign of going to go quietly.
Painters simply stepped aside from the inundation of the new picturing tribe, and like the centaurs simply headed back to the hills. The canvases of Paolo Manazza are distilled from a strain of renegade, highly refined painterly criteria that shun the ”sophistication” –in the most pejorative sense of the word– of the fashionable rhetorical ingredients of appropriation, reification, photographic reproductivity, ironical demonstrations of various agitprop formulae and fashionable pseudo-educational devices of the day. Like the Etruscans, Paolo Manazza and his cohorts resist comfortable complicity and reject the mediocre rewards offered by politically correct cultural conformity.
Joseph Stalin may be long dead, but Stalinism is alive and very well indeed in the international contemporary art world.
If conceptual art ever qualified as truly revolutionary, today it has devolved into the new Academy, the crown jewel of what has come to be called ”contemporary” art. In the Garden of Oxymorons, ”conceptual art” is as nonsensical as saying culinary cooking.
What is the shelf life of contemporary art? Is a ”Do Not Consume After” date displayed on the wall ? Does Contemporary Art remain contemporary for ten years? Twenty? For ever and ever? Is it a dynasty, an eternal Style Plateau? And why are some artists never contemporary even when alive and breathing, and others remain contemporary from beyond the grave? Because ”contemporary art” is not an aesthetic measure at all: it is a political dogma.
Bernd and Hilla Becher remain officially ”contemporary” even though they also happen to be officially dead; Pierre Soulages on the other hand, one of the greatest living painters in the world today, does not qualify as a contemporary. Questions not of aesthetic concordance, but of complicity.
The idea of teaching ”History of Contemporary Art” is as idiotic as teaching The History of This Morning’s Breakfast. Logic would disqualify any ”contemporary” museum from maintaining a permanent collection. However we are not dealing with logic here, but rather with an ideology.
Optics: the pictorial approximation of visual phenomena by means of chromatic depiction, either conscientiously striving toward ”realistic” rendition or else toward an emotive conjuring of states of mind by aiming at a precisely induced experience of looking: ”for the pleasure of the eyes.”
”Pour le plaisir des yeux. . .” as the carpet merchants at Tangiers like to say. But as with paintings, the signs woven into their wares on sale in the marketplace are not accompanied by a translation.
To impress our eyes with the way things really appear: such was the great ambition first and foremost of the Impressionists, to show with slabs of raw paint how to truly see daylight. Joseph Conrad: Above all to make them SEE. . .
Looking back, it is difficult to understand the scandal Impressionism caused, or to what extent it upset the aesthetic status quo and even the ”moral standards” of the day, shocking accepted conventions for the practice of the eye. Since then, épater la bourgeoisie has long ago become exactly what the bourgeoisie craves.
Marcel Duchamp pushed antagonism to the traditions of painting further than anyone else before him, in his declaration of war against what he dismissed as the ”retinal” in art: No more paint. His stoical sabotage, his denial of the pleasure factor in the act of seeing, had something of Calvinist puritanism about it, the derision of sensual in favor of purely cerebral forms of delectation. And yet in spite of Duchamp the art of painting survived his campaign of ridicule as Kandinsky opened the floodgates of color which Dada had mocked and Cubism had closed. The big joke is that Duchamp went on indulging in the plaisir des yeux to the end of his life.
While Picasso sweated like a butcher on market-day, Duchamp sat filing his fingernails. ”Turpentine gives me a headache,” he would say. Or, most revealing of all: ”I am lazy. . .” It could well be that, observing the herculean efforts of Picasso, Duchamp decided he simply didn’t want to go to all that effort. Somebody once asked De Kooning, What about Duchamp putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa? Answer: ”Maybe he’s just not an art lover.” The work of every artist must be approached on its own terms.
Paolo Manazza belongs to that tribe which thrives on the act of painting, as well as writing about its consequences to himself and all the rest of us. His colleague at the Corriere della Sera, Gillo Dorfles, continues to garner acolades as a painter. And we would do well to recall Emilio Tadini who divided his time between the writer’s desk and the painter’s easel. Or the genial Jacques Emile Blanche, author of countless books but also one of the most gifted portrait painters of the Belle Epoque.
The urge to make paintings and to write about the painterly act: how do you balance the two of them?
When I began showing my work publically I had the impression that painting could help me enter into closer contact with the mind of the artists I wrote about. But I noticed again and again that I ended essays by saying ‘it’s useless to describe it, just go and see these paintings.’ I can only quote Willem de Kooning:
There is no doubt that it was the word that introduced art into painting, the only certainty in art is that it is a word. In this way all art became literary. We still live in a world where things are clear and evident in themselves. It’s interesting how people who propose to liberate painting from talk about painting don’t do anything except sit around and talk about it. In any case, we’re not confronted by a contradiction: art in itself is the mute part of eternity, about which it is possible to talk about eternally.
Each painting of Paolo Manazza is a soliloquy, a dialogue with the artist’s self like the two-part inventions of Bach, a simultaneous translation into the language of paint where ”composition” is the grammar, and color is the vocabulary; a jigsaw puzzle of light; an evocation of ancestral spirits; a visual micro-climate; an icon toward a reformed rainbow; a thermometer, a barometer, a compass; a subjective synthesizer of phenomena found in nature; a chromatic clock; an instrument for the measurement of the pleasure of paint. . .
It was Tristan Tzara who said: L’amateur, c’est l’armature de l’absolu.
Standing or sitting, or better yet reclining, there is always something that seems to ellude our grasp as we let our eyes graze across a painting; something that keeps escaping our gaze, our ”glimpse.” The longer we look, the more we see, and the less we understand; we take it apart and put it back together again, Humpty Dumptyesque, and yet still we feel more disoriented than before; we lose our way in the labyrinth.
And then, that glimpse, a ray of light. . . This is the increment of the enigmatic, the invitation which tempts the innocent to venture ever further into the chambers of the mysteries of art.
Paolo Manazza is quoted in the book “The Informal Italian way. From Afro, Vedova, Burri to the latest trends. ” By Virgilio Patarini. Editoriale Giorgio Mondadori, 2013 – Page 203
In July of 2015 one of his works went on auction at Bonhams in Oxford was chosen for the cover of the catalog
He has been written Cristiana Curti, Mimmo Di Marzio, Andrea Dusio, Vera Agosti, Manuela Brevi, Giovanni Frangi, Massimo Mattioli, Alessandro Papetti, Rosalinda Celentano, Virgilio Patarini, Alan Jones.
News and reviews on his paintings have been published by several publications including: “The Art Newspaper”, “Arte”, “Il Giornale”, “Corriere della Sera”, “laRepubblica” and “Nice Matin”.