Moreno Bondi: Icarus or Dedalus?
by Claudio Strinati
Moreno Bondi is an intensely cultured and conscious artist. The proof can be found in the studied precision of the titles he ascribes to his paintings and the unbroken flow of literary and philosophical quotations that accompany exhibitions of his works.
Bondi’s superb technique is moulded by the precise knowledge he has gleaned from Seventeenth century painting especially, his keen imagination, the extreme accuracy and verisimilitude of his brush-stroke. Together with his methodical intelligence, this technique enables him to order his pictorial material into strange and fascinating series of paintings.
An important catalogue of Bondi’s works, published in 2000, bears the name “Aphorisms”. It is prefaced by Aristotle’s saying that: “the concept of an enigma is this: to say things that are true and link impossibilities to them”. The foreword is by Antonio Paolucci, the Head of Museums in Florence, who justly observes that the intense “realism” of the images, invariably confers on the spectator a sense of fragmentation, of a construction of tesserae, each of which, viewed from the standpoint of naturalistic depiction, is utterly persuasive. But the Master has assembled them in such a way as to be absurd and difficult, so that you cannot get a sense of the entirety of the image he has produced. Rather the many “real” segments seem to have been introduced so as to form a whole that is “impossible” from a logical standpoint- which might lead you to think that the painter actually takes the cue for his figurative ideas from that distortion of lifelikeness. Hence the fittingness of another quotation, from Nietzsche this time, that has been placed beside one of those chimeric visions that the artist continually reworks: “The absurdity of a thing is not a reason against its existence; rather, it is a prerequisite of it”.
These paintings are not easy to explain, notwithstanding the unquestionable virtuosity displayed in all of them. They are not easy in spite of the titles and the aphorisms that are often placed beside them, even though they contain a seemingly evident yearning to communicate. They are certainly not illustrations of lofty sayings; nor are they the projections of hallucinatory or twisted states of mind. But the desire to confer on the images a title that might make for potential recognizability, remains a typical feature of the artist, and one which we must take into due consideration.
If a painting, with a powerful figurative impact, is called “Prigione”, (Prison), “Enigma”, “Anghelos” (Angels), “Sussurri” (Murmurs), “Uomo obelisco” (Man-obelisk), that probably signifies that the title has been thought up by an artist whose wish it is to reveal and conceal the meaning of his work. However, it is also the artist’s wish to make it clear that the work has one meaning, and only one, and thus the range of interpretation is, somehow, to be restricted.
This is the effort that the artist expects of the spectator; and it is understandable since Bondi’s clear intimation of the troubled state all his paintings are bound to induce in the spectator makes them “effortful”.
It is as if everything Bondi depicts has been wrenched out of some mental prison, out of some kind of constraint, from an insufficiency which gives rise to a burning desire.
The paintings are Romantically inspired, even if the execution is so akin to great Seventeenth century art, be it Roman or Tuscan, which has handed down so many masterpieces to posterity.
Bondi emerges not only as a limpid and reflective artist, but as acutely sensitive in his wish to reveal the feelings and drives that can create a state of uneasiness in us.
Much of the appeal of this artist, who seems uncertain whether to regard himself as Dedalus or Icarus, lies in this maze of soaring elations and falls to earth. His uncertainty
arrests our interest because its outcome is that the illustrious teacher and scholar vanishes to reveal the poet, whose impassioned and uncompromising spirit is filled with nuances and silences.
Director of the Palazzo Venezia Museum