Life on Mars, catalogo della mostra a cura di Circoloquadro, testo di Ivan Quaroni, 2016
Combat Prize 2015, cataogo dei finalisti a cura di Paolo Batoni, Sillabe Editore
Tuscany Contemporary Art / Artisti in Toscana Vol. I - 2015, realizzazione editoriale di Walter Farnesi, Wfedizioni - Synersea, 2015
Nuova Pittura Italiana, catalogo della mostra a cura di Enzo Cannaviello, testi critici di Matilde Scaramellini, 2014
Premio Griffin, catalogo della mostra a cura di Windsor and Newton, Conté à Paris e
Liquitex, testi di Ivan Quaroni, 2013
Last Young, Under 35 in Italia, catalogo della mostra a cura di Arianna Baldoni, Lorenzo Respi e Rossella Farinotti, 2013
Panorama, catalogo della mostra a cura di Arianna Beretta, testi di Vanni Cuoghi, Michael Rotondi, Giuliano Sale e Pastorello e Massimo Dalla Pola
L'Arte che aiuta i bambini, catalogo dell'Asta Benefica a cura di Abn Onlus e Fata Onlus, 2012
Sto Disegnando!!!, catalogo della mostra, testi di Marta Cereda e Arianna Beretta,Bevivino Editore, 2011
"There is no abstract art. You always start with something. Afterward you can remove alltraces of reality."
"An image breaks the borders defined by concept in order to define and contain it. Spiritmust realize this, whether it likes it or not, or it will succumb under phenomena."
In recent times, Italian art developed a new aniconic and polysemous sensibility expressed through several media, from painting to sculpture and installation, in discontinuity with the codes belonging to geometrical abstraction. In the history of art, the abstract process often represented an arrival point, intended as an evolution or improvement of the pictorial language. Many Italian abstract painters like Alberto Magnelli, Manlio Rho, Arturo Bonfanti and Osvaldo Licini, for instance, started from a realistic approach to then create a system of inner signs and figures closer to the intangible world of ideas. However, the passage from iconic to aniconic representation has always developed in this order and never in the opposite way.
What distinguishes this group of artists belonging to the Millennials generation is the recognition of the basic ambiguity of visual language and, therefore, the final dismissal of the dichotomy between abstraction and representation, a legacy from the past. It is clear that these categorizations are not functional anymore. It might be the consequence of a structural change in culture, regarding the emerging of a new awareness, more and more a-confessional in an ideological way. We may consider it as a legacy of the post-modern period, which helped to redefine genres making them liquid and supporting a free circulation of artist between various artistic fields. International critics testified this change, pushing authors like Tony Godfrey and Bob Nikas to rethink old classifications and introduce new elastic visions on present pictorial researches. Godfrey invented the definition of Ambiguous Abstraction, regarding those works by abstract artists where figurative traces survive in a evanescent way. Nikas expanded the Hybrid Picture definitionalso to those works by mainly figurative artists (like Jules de Balincourt and Wilhelm Sasnal) showing abstract elements.
In reality, Gerhard Richter's many and various works between abstraction and figuration already proved how painting could be considered as something homogeneous, regardless of its own declinations. In 1986, the American abstract painter Jonathan Lasker wrote: "I'm seeking subject matter, not abstraction." Lasker thought Abstraction was dead with Frank Stella's Black Paintings, so he imagined painting as representing marginal topics like memory, presence, matter, transcendence and the mix between high and low art. In addition to these topics, felt as crucial nowadays, the post- abstraction by the Millennials, shaped by the exponential growing of information and digital technology, reflects on the individual's position during image creation and fruition processes.
Studies on perception, at the core of artistic experimentations since the end of the Fifties, were one of the many consequences derived from the discoveries in quantum physics. The observer was given the power to influence the results of scientific experiments and, in an extended way, he could concretely define reality. Through the Uncertainty principle, the epistemological consequences of Werner Karl Heisemberg's theory would have been received also by contemporary arts, which started then a deep reflection on the observer's role in the construction of images. Optic and kinetic works were conceived as interactive devices able to create a physiological reaction into the observer, who became an active part in the understanding of the image. Artists considered themselves as aesthetic scientists with the social mission to show the audience how congnitive mechanisms work. To realize their goal, they had to make one step back and give up with the author principle, in the same way as the N Group from Padova did when their works were presented under a collective signature. After fifty years, at the peak of the digital era, studies on the relation between image and perception have reconceived or, at least, extended to the new cognitive standards of the Y generation. These young artists are not interested defining how visual mechanisms work, while they focus on the reactions to the changed fruition conditions to internet and virtual reality images. They developed a critical awareness to distinguish artistic creation from the production of commercial, advertisting and playful images. All the artists present in the exhibition show a radically individualistic approach in considering art as a cognitive tool and as a way to resist to the codes of mass-media communication and traditional storytelling systems. The abstraction choice has been immediate for some and gradual for others. It represents a precise wish to cut any connection with the invasion of media language (and not its technology) to re-establish a primary and creative connection with reality.
Abstract comes from the latin expression ab trahere and means "to remove", "to separate". It refers to that kind of mental action that moves from the concrete and immediate side of contigency to the one filtered by reflection. Abstraction and theory are comparable terms. They both include detachment from reality, even if in the Millennials' abstraction is only temporary. It has the same value of an epochè, a suspension of judgment towards the alleged truth of phenomena, which never resolves in a complete detachment from reality.
Paolo Bini, for example, translates physical (and mental) landscapes in abstract chromatic units, based on pixels and scanner or plotter timings. The artist paints on paper strips, then mounted on boards, canvases or walls to create images characterized by a rhythmical and chromatic partition. With paintings, installations and paint-sculptures, Bini builds a lyrical and personal variation of pattern painting, where geometrical precision and gestural urgency of abstract expressionism coexist. This emotional geometry, produced by the fusion between mental structures and phenomenical entities, places his painting style on the the thin border between visible and invisible, on the precise point where the act of observing nature fights with the creative distorsions of awareness.
The pictorial signs by Isabella Nazzarri may be defined as phyto-morphic and anatomorphic. Using an organic and perpetually changing alphabet, she expresses feelings, memories and intuitions incomprehensible in any other way. The artist gets inspiration from the classification of anatomical and herbal tables to build a world of evocative and fluctuating pictograms, obtained through a free interpretation of natural morphologies. Nazzarri realized a big mural painting on the gallery ceiling, a crowded organic genesis echoing the codified forms of her Innatural systems, an imaginative theory of amoebas and parameciums, bacteria and protozoans coming out from the primordial broth of an alien planet. Even if her artistic world is not influenced by science fiction, it represents the inner observation of an overabundance of archetypical forms, similar to terrestrial microbiologies generate by a mobile and liquid imagination.
Matteo Negri's research focuses on plastic substances in an eclectic way, in combination with stone and ceramic, metal and resin, using industrial varnishes to create pop colors for an immediate expressive efficiency. His varied production centers on the division between form and meaning, a short circuit of aesthetic content and substance. This is the case of Kamigami Box, big irregular boxes showing internal surfaces covered with mirroring steel. The surfaces reflect the Lego constructions on the sculpture's base ad infinitum, giving the impression of a limitless urban settlement. Together with a new Kamigami, the artist shows a piece of furniture, an old chest of drawers transformed in a displayer containing many little works. The visitors are invited to explore it, so they can experience an unusual form of artistic interaction.
The mechanisms of creation and image fruition are at the core of Patrick Tabarelli work. His works drive the observer towards a kind of perceptive uncertainty, thanks to their formal ambiguity. His paintings are made of flat, almost digital surfaces, or are crossed by dynamic and minimal oscillations, in contrast with the gestural origins of his style. Recently, his works focused on the construction of drawing machines, digital hardware and software for the production of surfaces, which look like hand-painted, so the ambiguity between author and work emerges once again.
Through his project NORAA (NOn Representational Art Automata), Tabarelli suggests a redefinition of the traditional concepts of author and autenticity of the work, on crisis because of the recent development and the new interactive possibilities introduced by digital and information technologies.
Viviana Valla elaborates the language of geometrical abstraction through unconventional substances, like recovery papers, post-it, tape and fragments of printed images. She invents an intimate dimension with the realization of a mysterious and enigmatic visual diary. All we do not see, such as the pictorial adjustments and the collage erased by the artist during the stratification process, is the skeleton of her work. The settled formal subjects partially emerge from the work's surface, they are part of a gradual rearrangement of chaotic elements through continuous additions and exclusions, negations and affirmations. The artist translates in a clear and extensive language the gathering of elusive thoughts, immediate ideas and sudden inspirations accompanying the creative act. The final result is a slow perception of soft colors and delicate tones, almost
monochromatic painting style, reducing lyrical and emotional distractions in a minimal and analytical world.
Giulio Zanet's painting style is based on the impossibility of objectifying thoughts ad emotions in a clear and linear system. His artistic career testifies a gradual moving from destructured figuration to a hybrid and polysemous abstraction, his language reflects the vague imprecision of existential experiences. Using the main codes of abstract tradition - analytical, informal, abstract expressionism and neo geo - he defines a basically mobile and uncertain style, alternating the rigour of pattern with the pleasure of decoration, the freedom of gesture with the imperfect disposition of signs on an instable and fragile balance between rules and transgression. Many of his recent works overcome the classic structure of painting and become abstract shapes. They are fragments of an omnivorous language, similar to an expanded texture, invading the envirnommental space to change invariably its own perceptive boundaries.
Life of forms
"In teaching us to see the visible world afresh, he gives us the illusion of looking into the invisible realms of the mind - if only we know, as Philostratus says, how to use our eyes."
(Ernst Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 1960)
In 1943, the year Henri Focillon published Vie des Formes, one of the great classics of the twentieth century critical literature, form was already considered not as a sign conveying a meaning, but as content itself.
The scholar stated that the work of art existed only as form: "life is form, and form is the modality of life."
Focillon warned the reader not to confuse form with image or sign.
"We are always tempted to read into form a meaning other than its own", the French art historian wrote, "to confuse the notion of form with that of image and sign. But whereas an image implies the representation of an object, a sign signifies an object, form signifies only itself."
Isabella Nazzarri came to the same conclusions after her first steps in figurative art, where iconic and narrative clumps persisted, even if declined through alterations and deformations. Following on from Ernst Gombrich, the Tuscan artist understood that any kind of art begins in the human mind and in our reactions to the world, more than into the external world itself. Even if these forms remind me of bacteria and protozoans, amoebas and paramecia, as noticed before, her forms are rather the visual transposition of mental results and moods.
Isabella Nazzarri's works have the same schematic structures of geometrical patterns and fabric textures. Indeed, forms are arranged on the paper surface in a regular way, as if they had an ornamental purpose. However, the decorative impression vanishes away as soon as the work of art is studied from a close point of view, each form analyzed in its own singularity. As we mentioned above, the biomorphic nature of these shapes recalls the complexity of microorganisms like germs, bacilli and microbes. It drives the mind towards something having nothing to share with the beauty of tapestry or wallpaper decorations. It rather produces an uneasy feeling in the observer's mind.
Inside the apparent order in her big watercolors hides a mass of moving, leaping, iridescent and flashing figures, like one of those bio-luminescent organisms, whose membranes veil a kind of primitive vascular system or a primary neural structure. Focillon's idea of form as modality of life is here more comprehensible than ever, especially when it is shown through an extended morphological collection.
At the same time, forms can be explained as the translation in space of spiritual movements. Especially Isabella Nazzarri's Grafts - which I once defined as the joining links between Jungian archetypes and the simple organisms developing life in the universe - are the result of a formal, figurative and artistic adaptation of fragments coming from a continuous stream of consciousness.
They could be considered as part of one great work, evolving through constant metamorphosis and transformations.
It's no surprise that also the classifying framework of reference, created some time ago by the artist to organize these mental forms, has definitely disappeared to give space to a new spatial configuration. The artist's needing to give a direction to her forms (or to balance weights and obstructions on the surface) creates a kind of decorative mirage and ornamental illusion. Furthermore, Focillon believed that the essence of decoration could be reduced to the purest forms of intelligibility. In this way, putting apart the outlines of fantastic bestiaries or ancient herbaria, Nazzarri realized a simplification.
Her free forms look like moving in a huge field and, at the same time, converging towards an hypothetical spatial center. In the big watercolors, their disposition does not feel as accidental, but it follows a logical direction, however random it may be. This is why the ornamental structure remains soft, like an impression or an illusion.
The contrast between the apparent overall structure, static as any decorative system, and the chaotic bundling up of different forms, conveying pulsating and disturbing dynamics, highlights a contradiction produced by fertile experimental procedures, one of the most interesting aspects of this artist's recent work.
On the other hand, Isabella Nazzarri conceives painting not to transmit messages or create contents, but to provoke, through her visual language, a perturbation, a kind of confusion, leading the observer beyond his usual cognitive schemes.
After all, also Theodore Adorno used to think that way, considering what he wrote in his Minima Moralia: "The task of arttoday is to bring chaos into order."
 Henri Focillon, Life of forms followed by In praise of hands (Elogio della mano), Einaudi, Torino, 2002, p. 4
 Ibid, p. 6
 Ivan Quaroni, Life on Mars, Circoloquadro, Milano, 2016, p. 23
 Theodore Adorno, Minima Moralia, Reflection from damaged life, Einaudi, Torino, 1954, p. 213
Stationaries and nomads
Artists who practice painting in a continuous, exclusive way and way of the identity – that is, mirroring themselves completely in their work, in a way in which the work responds freely to their expressive urges, without any (aware) mediation with other needs – can be roughly classified into two categories, without going to far. The first is that of the stationary, i.e. those who shape their own identity as a unitary construction, as a building that often grows horizontally or, in the fortunate case of excellent artists, upward: they are those whose works visually resemble and in whose work recognize, generally afterwards, continuous micro-changes (which critics often like to subdivide, in a somewhat pedantic way, into periods). The other category is that of the nomads, of those who like to move and not choose a fixed place of residence, but prefer to change their homes, or in some cases furnish different houses in different ways: their somatic feature in painting is to change style or to adopt at the same time different ones, to surprise the gazes of the specatators, without any intimate need to be immediately recognizable.
Isabella Nazzarri clearly belongs to the second category, for the strong tendency to practice painting as exploration and to move freely by experimenting techniques, approaches and styles. We could say that – regardless of being carried out on the canvas or in the most liquid form of the watercolor – it is the same action of painting her true subject: the gesture of coloring and dragging the brush on the surface, in a continuous negotiation between control and centrifugal anarchic impulses. Subsequently the subject manifests itself, revealing to our gaze in the form of an image; but it is only a final steady form, a simple chromatic coagulation of stimuli that, in the head and the hand of the artist, lead elsewhere to the next exploration or to a new experiment, without any concern either being identified or being an already solved equation in the spectator's head.
In the poem De Rerum natura Titus Lucretius Caro transposes the principles of Epicureanism, and he translates the Greek word parénklisis to the Latin noun clinamen – that is, according the philosopher's physics, the swerve of falling atoms that makes possible the freedom of humans from materialistic determinism. The concept of Clinamen guarantees therefore human freedom from deterministic form, by allowing our will to express itself in a fulfilled form. The concept of Clinamen expresses the free, fluid and nomadic creative path of Isabella Nazzarri, characterized by continuous small movements and daily micro-deviations, where individual freedom is strengthened by the presence of casualties due to the momentary condition. The practice of free will, not only in painting, prevents the artist from being imprisoned with repetitive forms or a deadly consistency, and avoids the condition of the one who speaks by using words already written. Clinamen is therefore the guarantee that you can experience a journey without worrying too much about the place it will conduct or the meetings you can make.
For Nazzarri, the work is an experience, an episode of a walk in the city where you can have new stimuli and you can end up freely in a place that you had not previously thought. The mere staticity of the finished work needs to be understood as the result of a transient condition, similar to the flâneur condition Charles Baudelaire wrote in the renowned Le Peintre de la vie moderne: the freedom to move, even casually, is in fact one of the generating elements of her works. And this does not happen only when freedom take on a two-dimensional form but, for example, in Monadi's case (transparent ampoules filled with coloured resins placed on a mirror) or Epifanie (golden rocks made of polyurethane foam), where the choice of form and the use of materials are the result of its constant urban walk-through as a flâneur. A route made of temporal continuity, but also of unlimited variations which are the basis of her paintings and sculptures. In particular, Nazzarri's approach is the result of gestures and measure which, itself, produce the shapes we see condensed onto the canvas or in sculptural form. In a broader sense, the same creation of sculptural / installation works – which contain the same explorative and libertarian expressive instances that are at the basis of pictorial practice – is inspired by a continuous and inexhaustible nomadic practice of painting, of which it represents a further extension.
The Clinamen exhibition is built to give the visitor the errant mode of Isabella Nazzarri's artistic practice. It delves into the uncertain emotional horizon and condenses it in different ways summarizing the works of the artist of the last two years of research. The Air Room displays Nazzarri’s last two-dimensional works on canvas and paper, in which not-figurative and gestural elements are painted over flat colour surfaces. Stronger marks and liquid brushes alternate freely by occupying the surface in anarchic and seemingly random way, as a result of a visual process in which emotional approach and method are blended. The Mirror Room, in a more intimate atmosphere, displays three-dimensional works created by the use of resins, color and translucent elements. The works, some glass ampoules which are characterized by great executive freedom, are arranged above a mirror showing the spectator what at first glance is hidden.The Gold Room is dedicated to new sculptures made of synthetic materials, which evoke the feel of a constellation of metaphysical and surprising rocks, as a revelation of something we can not known or understand. The space is transformed in an aerial landscape to see above our head dreaming of far-away worlds. Are they the intermundia inhabited by the gods who do not care about us, as Epicurus reported?
Again against Plato: the freedom of philosophy in painting
"Then Dionysius, offering me honors and riches, tried to persuade me to pass on his side, to become a friend to him, giving testimony thatDion's exile was deserved, but he did not succeed in his intent."
Plato, Letter VII, 333d
It may seem rhetorical to always quote Plato, but it is not, because almost everything we can think is already thought of by him. In theRepublic, as is well-known, painters (and poets) are seen as impostors of free thinking: imitators of nature, driven out of the ideal city.But everything is thinner, because Plato knows that the problem is not so much that it mimics in the bad way the reality but, forgive me the wordplay, that imitates it better. To us common mortals seems absurd but the artists, on the other hand, know that you can (and must) do. In this, over the centuries, art has become emblematic: providing alternative scenarios, in fact, complicate and increase the perception of the world we live in.Isabella Nazzarri stresses, in some ways, the perception that painting is always an excess of the real in the sense in which Plato's fear was exemplified: focusing on the real primary (the contingency) to strive for what we can define, without forcing, a real secondary (that of the possibility).There is the style to suggest it, from the vegetative forms that have gradually dissolved into the anonic, to the painting that becomes procedural and gestural; but there are also the themes where painting becomes a theory of chaos, a clinamen, in which the idea that there is no free will is forced from within and with unedited tools. Plato feared the artists because they were potentially subversive: the order, to be preserved (this is Plato turned in reverse), needs the absence of art.It is not displeased, moreover, to claim that it is outside the ordinary language, for example not in the vocal but in the visual, where barriers of reason can be forced, art anticipates and strengthens scenarios, breaks apparently fixed structures, causes unpublished news.
Isabella Nazzarri, from her amps and her summer visions, experiences the pure act of the most technical freedom for philosophy: not actions with fixed goals, but acts, pure movements oriented to be culled by the spontaneous and unpredictable deviations that the events can take.Often we call "case" what we do not fully understand, if anything happens suddenly and unexpectedly we say "it happened casually"; here, as in the theater of Carmelo Bene or Antonine Artaud, there is more interesting conceptual challenge: the case is often the effect of actions that know how to go beyond the fixed, schematicproject that has assumed the theory of human action.If such an action is because it culminates in a goal that was already fixed, this teaches contemporary philosophy, in the intentions of starting an act, this instead tells the theory of theater, is so when it is clear from where it shares but it is not, because it must not be, perfectly clear where it will go.
Plato hunts the artists from the city because at the end, millennia in advance, he is already aware of this power of art: in his illuminated dictatorship, where everything is anticipated and nothing sudden, artistic research is a potential wandering mines.What could be for an artist who shows to the peasants, do we think of the theory of platonic social classes, the luxury of the guardians? And what would happen to this artist if he showed to the guardians the lack of effort, that the philosophers dedicated themselves to? The point is this, for Plato the artists, namely in his project, there is not even space for a class: they are politically dangerous, incorruptible, visionary.Isabella Nazzarri, with his constant research of freedom, which is obvious, for example, in two-dimensional drawings, would certainly make a paradoxical good example to Plato: out of the city, without doubt, would educate the exiles to go with the vision beyond the modelimagined by the Athenian philosopher. It is all here the sense of the "movements" of Isabella Nazzarri, paths that are not paths but asign of the chance to start calling the "case", much more simply, “exercise of freedom.”
Mirrors, sculptures and epicureanmicrodevices make Isabella Nazzarri's work interesting not only from a critical point of view, but above all philosophical: the content and the method merge, become unitary, leave for the user the opportunity to create a further an interpretive path to this frivolity of the lens that is typical of the act against action. Isabella Nazzarri, far from the platonic city, stubborn as any artist, leads us and directs us out of determinism: it is up to us, deviations of other deviations, to become the creators of our destiny.
This book, Clinamen, recorded the Nazzarri's first solo exhibition realized by ABC-ARTE, which follows on collaborative path that the gallery has undertaken with the artist, developed through projects made in both public and private spaces. The temporal continuity of her work, it is here represented in a decisive moment, in which the creative, fluid and free path turns into new and structured variations.
The stylistic synthesis of the works presented, reaches the highest expressive freedom and a force capable to communicate, thanks to addictive visual rhythm, emotions, moments and circumstances of our life.
Together with friend and curator Daniele Capra the exhibition project of the show - whose title ‘Clinamen’ derives from the Epicurean concept which explains the freedom of men from any deterministic - it has been structured into three areas in relation to the emotional background characterizing each series of works.
The Air Room displays the last two-dimensional works on canvas and paper, in which not-figurative and gestural elements are painted over flat colour surfaces. The Mirror Room, in a more intimate atmosphere, instead, are collected three-dimensional works, Monadi (once again the philosophy!), created by the use of materials, as resins and pigments. Lastly, the Gold Room is dedicated to aerial sculptures, Epifanie, gold colored metaphysical rocks.
Clinamen's exhibition collects the Isabella's work developed over the last two years, and it represents a starting point that allows us to seize her evident talent, from which we can only expect, in the future, further infinite evolutions.
Head consultant & director, ABC-ARTE