Finale di un quadro


    (in the artist's studio)

    Con brio

     There was a feeling, however unspoken it remained, that the painting we had followed so assiduously for days and were about to see again had achieved its definitive form. As we climbed the stairs to the artist's studio, there was something conclusive about the occasion, like we were going up to a lawer's office to sign a contract, and there was a certain calm suspense, an air of anticipation. At the open windows there came again the familiar  reassuring sound of the trains racing northward and southward like toys.

     Just as we had foreseen, the painting had undergone yet another upheaval, but the turn this metamorphosis had taken had not been a second complete rupture with its prior state, but instead proved to be rather an extension, to its definitive present state, of the procedure witnessed in the course of our last visit.

     The canvas had in fact transformed itself, arriving at an ultimate dynamic conclusiveness, since the first and second phases were now found to consist of the aufhebung by a third strata of superimposed visual information, once more taking the form of hand imprints, this time, however, in an even more aleatory rhythmic pattern which had succeeded in bringing the three layerings into a unity. It was reminiscent of three soundtracks laid down in a music recording studio during a live improvisational session. A synchronized, syndetic conjunction of clustering syncopated rhythms: a Sacre for all seasons.

     The "laying on of hands" which Sandro Zendralli had conducted had the effect of banishing the previous sensation of entfremdung, in an act of unification which could just as easily be called conciliation. The painting seemed now to breathe, even more alive with dance than before, now as the first levels had been filtered through the successive interventions into one single organic darkening and reawakening of harmonies and rhythms: a progressive incremental process of a particularly vivid enrichment of the field of vision, but one in which the additive aspect seemed simultaneously to function in a reductive manner, as if the act of accumulating was serving alternatively as a taking away, a removal or simplifying as the strata enrich and cancel each other out into a final muted polyphonic polychrome.

     This process has been identified in encounters with works of the past, both distant and more recent, beginning perhaps with the accumulative superimpositions of one outlined form renderly placed onto another from the very beginnings of art history, as seen in cave paintings in several localities around the world from alpine France to the Australian outback.

     A similar example of this practice is to be once again observed in the paintings which Francis Picabia produced toward the conclusion of the Twenties, in which the opaque and the transparent alternate in an x-ray overlapping of see-through silhouettes, a practice taken up on yet a later occasion, during the decades of the Seventies and Eighties first by the painter Sigmar Polke in Germany and soon thereafter by David Salle in New York.

     Sandro Zendralli shares with both of the latter painters more than a single aspect of kinship. Each in an individual manner possesses an innate musicality which serves as the primary fount of their creative procedure. The additive approach of Sandro Zendralli results, ultimately, in a reductive effect, which places his procedual modus operandi in the realm of the sculptural, in which the cancellation of visual information is equally important as its building up.

     This practice has been present from the very outset in earlier works by Sandro Zendralli both on canvas and on paper. It was present also in his eccentric methodology when it came to overlayering the intricacies of a multi-storey architectural project: where architects conventionally execute a series of transparent layers, Sandro Zendralli draws his plans on one single sheet, which make sense only to him.

     The paintings of Sandro Zendralli vibrate with light. "To conserve this ideal mirage during the execution of the work," the Swiss painter Giovanni Segantini wrote, "the artist must call upon all his strength so that the initial energy persists; it is all a vibration of his nerves intent on feeding the fire, to keep alive the mirage with continuous evocation, so that the idea does not dissolve and flow away, the idea that must take body on the canvas, creates the work that shall be spiritually personal and materially true. Not that exterior truth, superficial and conventional that marks the so-called modern, but that truth that, going beyond the barriere of superficiality of line and tonality, knows how to give life to form, and light to color."

     Every artist, in one way or another, arrives at an individual solution to answer his own needs of expression to correspond to his own creative impulse: artists as different one from the other as André Masson, Jackson Pollock, Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle, Alberto Burri, Richard Long, Anselm Kiefer. Each of these artists has demonstrated on an epic scale the primal physicality of the enactment, or ritual, by which painting enters into being.

     Sandro Zendralli has stood in this enchanted precinct where the struggle between inspiration and materiality is carried out: by hand.

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