“When I sit in front of one of my cuts, contemplating it, I suddenly feel a great relaxation of the spirit, I feel a man freed from the slavery of matter, a man who belongs to the vastness of the present and the future.”
The first reaction one has when faced with a work by Fontana is to say that we are all capable of making a cut by putting ourselves from a perspective of great superficiality, in fact precisely what Lucio Fontana has shown us we must overcome!
Born with an artist like L. Fontana a new reality in the approach to art that is to consider aspects that go beyond aesthetics and in itself a new reality that implies space as a conceptual dimension different from its representation.
The artistic evolution has led to the discovery of territories of communication that are not always comprehensible both in their complexity and in their maximum simplicity, often leading the extremes to coincide.
Lucio Fontana is an artist who allows us to have together the unsustainable lightness of being of complexity and simplicity in an univocal, clearly intriguing, infinitely exciting way.
The aspect that we always have in appreciating contemporary art is precisely a different vision, an approach that leads us to think more than to look, to evaluate how the forms of nature are first in thought and then in front of us.
The cultural network of art is made up of articulation in which even the illogical, the perverse, the non metabolic, the anti-aesthetic, are taken note of everything that life can reveal to the fundamental purpose of knowledge, that is to find answers to human sensations.
Lucio Fontana makes art according to a recurrent research in the twentieth century that is to be reviewed in the “informal”, where the work is nothing more than the energy that was introduced there, hence the poetics of gesture and finally its conceptual approach to space.
Fontana “goes beyond” in the material and mental sense with respect to the two-dimensionality of the canvas and its materiality, one of his cuts is precisely called “spatial concept” and the artist himself coined the term “Spatialism” to enunciate a movement of which he was the leader.
Let’s imagine what we feel in front of a work by Michelangelo, the immensity of the creative act that is combined with the strength of the forms that give us an emotion that touches us, that send us back to the immortality of nature as a divine meaning, or again in front of the fine and gentle beauty of Raphael that brings us back a loving feeling, or even in front of the raw reality of Caravaggio shown by the contrast of light, here is now the beauty and its expression is fully in the art of the user, the art is not there in front of us, in front of us with Fontana we find the mirror of our thought, the concept that leads us to communicate with another that we find before us.
Let’s imagine how we are in front of a limit, how we can be afraid, to have qualms, prejudices and when we break that veil that separates us from another unknown reality another universe opens up, another space to probe!
Fontana expresses the energy of a gesture that takes us out of the darkness of our unconscious to find another way, another goal, another dimension, which therefore goes beyond the object, the form.
Another truth for the viewer of the work of art is also highlighted, that of the direct relationship between the body and the gesture, that is, the awareness of recognizing the act that the work accomplishes, the arm that cleaves the canvas. An autogenous perception that is generated in the artist beyond the reality he sees before him, an extension that is in the brain beyond the visual sense.
This aspect is very interesting because of the ability to make a work of art beyond sight (there are drawings of the human body of blind children) only through the consciousness of their body in space, because the painting is in the brain, in fact the body acts as a medium between artist and work as we are reminded by studies of neuro aesthetics. Fontana does not depict reality as he sees it and in this dynamic body-expressive act-user comes to our aid an art historian and a scientist, S. J. Freedbeg and V. Gallese, stating that “viewers often experience a sense of bodily involvement with the movements that are implied by the physical traces of the creative actions of those who produced the work”.
So from here to the next step of considering the empathic nexus of art as cultural expression and communication is short.
Fontana is part of his time and seeks a synthesis of response to modernism and social problems that the artist also lives, he gives us a step in the story that is coming, through the canvas we go into the unlimited so that science fiction becomes reality, man is in space outside the earth recently and when he makes “spatial concept, waiting” is 1964 four years before the landing of Armistrong’s Apollo 11, Aldrin, Collins! With the art object, therefore, man has no more limits!
Lucio Fontana is an artist who revolutionizes time and space with a gesture that dematerializes art itself to give it a forward impulse, lays the foundations for a poetics that starts from an invasive action to refer to a wider sensibility, to an intensely dilated conception of the same thought.
A cut in a canvas is a tear in soul and body that pervades the very substratum of consciousness, a warning to want more.
The artist gives us an ontological perspective that relates all the elements that make up the reality of the work, the surface of a support that for a long time has related the man and the image of the world and therefore the material of which it is composed, the color and light that determines it, and finally the whole that goes to define a space, and from here with a single gesture everything can be or cannot be, a gesture that becomes break and principle, infinity and imagination.
Fontana’s cuts are therefore not an operation of simple banality, not everyone can do them because the artist has found a relationship to his poetics with a concrete aspect that is the technique, the canvas had to be engraved without diminishing the tension, then the same cut was necessary that it did not open too much so that it would not be permanently ruined and even the edges should not fray so you had to operate in a sharp and sudden. Basically Fontana is a sculptor of space, and to penetrate it he carries within himself the essence of the artist, perfectly combining genius, poetry and technique.
The artist used a Stanley knife, very sharp, and slid his hand from top to bottom with a very steady hand. Then Fontana chose the exact moment of drying the canvas. Because first the preparation was done with the application of a white colouring, cementite, both on the front and back and then a water paint was used. The cut was in fact carried out before the canvas dried completely, because if the surface was too dry the friction would have created problems with the cut. Once the cut was made, Fontana applied black gauze strips on the back with Vinavil glue smeared behind the two edges of the cut. In addition, the black gauze also had a purely conceptual function. Very interesting about the investigation of the methods applied by Lucio Fontana was a study published in 2012 by art historian Pia Gottschaller, entitled Lucio Fontana. The artist’s materials, which examines all the strands that the artist deals with.
In fact Lucio Fontana has a curriculum of great respect, son of art, father sculptor, he lived between Argentina, where he was during the Second World War, and Italy, where he studied at the Brera Academy in 1927, a pupil of one of the great sculptors of the Italian twentieth century, Adolfo Wildt. His work runs through a flow that starts from the naturalism of the masters to arrive at the informal whose origins are to be reviewed in the Italian Baroque to become strong in the arrival of the abstract gesture.
He signed the first manifesto of abstract art in 1935 and joined the Abstraction-Création. In Argentina during the World War he wrote the Manifesto Blanco (1946), the foundation of Spatialism, a movement of which he was the inventor.
Thus L. Fontana, who has a profound influence on the history of art, is known for the cut of the canvas, but his production has different characters, various cycles with different operations:
The Sculptures (1925-1967) The Holes (1949-1968) The Stones (1952-1956) The Baroque (1954-1957) The Plasters (1954-1958) The Inks (1956-1959) The Oils (1957-1968) The Cuts (1958-1968) The Quanta (1959- 1960) Le Nature (1959-1960) I Metalli (1961-1968) La Fine Di Dio (1963-1964) I Teatrini (1964-1966) Le Ellissi (1964-1967) Le Ambientazioni (1926-1968) I Disegni (1928-1968) Le Ceramiche (1949-1968)
The question one asks oneself in front of an aesthetic revolution is always made in relation to one’s beliefs, one’s taste and the cultural substratum that moves the deepest sensations that always give us certainties, so one remains bewildered and perplexed in front of strong simple or complex expressions. Aesthetics is an act of courage, however, most of the time because beauty is a continuous construction of oneself and the world. Beauty has always led beyond limits and canons, beauty at a certain point becomes universal precisely when it is best recognized. Lucio Fontana gives us the beauty of the immeasurable which can have more dimensions, for the soul, the body, the mind.
Space, seen as an entity and as an identity, re-proposes aspects that belong to us and that represent what is a link with existence, with the codes that delimit our awareness of place, ethos and time.
The canvas is a place, a space therefore, which gives meaning to the act of painting, from a sense to the material expression of representation, makes a message clear, prolongs a vital context.
The entity that has its own context and that from the delimited, from a closed system, can have a biunivocal relationship with the identity of the user, bringing it from its space to another space.
Lucio Fontana therefore allows us through his art to look for a sign through the action of emotions and then to go beyond it for a different representation of our being.
The sense of approaching Lucio Fontana in the end leads us to consider that he proposes a change, that this artist is in relation to his time, to what modern society was asking for and that he is still current because he is like a universal cultural meme that basically gives us an element of freedom.
Lucio Fontana’s poetics is a visual through which we can imagine to digress about our own fears in order to cross a threshold, a space that is the physical one that surrounds us, there can be a digression about a momentary constraint, a negative status, a moment that needs a gesture, a force that cuts the claustrophobia of our time.
In a social moment like that of covid 19, a monster that impacts on modernity and that forces the world to lock itself in a box, Fontana’s cut can give us an impetus of hope, a language that through art makes us relive a different dimension, beyond what is materially and metaphorically there.