aligi sassu

Critical essay
Daniela Brignone
Fondazione Aligi Sassu

PRESENTATION Critical essay catalogue of the works Information


Opening: Carlo Motta, Ed. G. Mondadori; Patrizio Lodato, Assessore ai Beni Culturali; Giovanni Avanti, Presidente della Provincia Regionale; Daniela Brignone, Curatrice; Eusebio Dalì, Assessore alla Cultura e Carlos Julio Sassu Suarez, figlio dell'artista.

Carlo Motta, Ed. G. Mondadori; Daniela Brignone, Curatrice; Giovanni Avanti, Presidente della Provincia Regionale; Carlos J. Sassu Suarez, figlio dell'artista.

Aligi Sassu

Almost seventy years of activity, of artistic, political and social commitment constitute the connective weave of Aligi Sassu's anthological display, on the tenth anniversary of his passing; in this occasion it has been tried to represent the deepest meaning of an intense human and artistic story, retracing the stylistic evolutions and following their entire path, from the beginning until the last works. A homage to an interpreter who honoured the Italian history of art, although he was part of a particularly difficult historical context, that of fascism, of which he becomes a strenous opponent.
The display ties the threads of an exceptionally intense narration, highlighting the free flow of ideas and emotions, the strength of a thought that shows in the concreteness of images which reveal a coherent and complex course.
Sassu starts finding interest in the arts and painting since his adolescence, and since then it is an experimentation after the other which lead him to approach the avant-gardes of the time, without forgetting the models of the past, from which he is inspired for a staging of an eclectic classicism expressed in themes and gestures.
The debut sees him committed to a synthesis of new visions, of various nature, applied to mythological and imaginary themes, to horses, to cyclists, to battles, processed in a story made of static geometries, of landscapes and vital elements solved in a chromatic function, expressing a sense of equilibrium and a knowledge of reciprocal relations between colours of a direct fauve derivation.
Arcadian atmospheres, of unusual and unscrupulous combinations, pure and bidimensional colours, condensing the sensations of the artist, constituting the essence of his production.
One of the first themes he undertakes is that of horses, often recurring in his works, expression of freedom and dynamism, necessary synthesis of instinct and conscience, the gallop of which he associates to the rush of waves, impetuous as impetuous is the research for truth and the anxiety of indulging the needs of his soul. The sea is a symbol of birth, according to the ancient Greeks, from water comes life and the gallop of the horse on the shores of the sea stresses the ancestral desire of rebirth, of transcending reality.
Of the animal he sometimes underlines the docility and the intimacy as a friend in Cavallo nero e cavaliere (1930), sometimes the strength and rampant istinct in Cavalieri antichi (1942). But it is the white horse which he represents most frequently, sublimed in a freeing leap, as if ascending towards spitituality. A separation from reality, necessary for survival, and from its material bonds, that becomes metaphor of his personal story.
Horses can also be found in the mythological themes, which Sassu develops at the same time, as in Cavalli di Poseidone (1986), in which the thrill of movement is translated directly into colour, where the tone of blue prevails in its shades. A swirl coming from the spirit, an intense and elegant decorative rythm that highlights the love for movement which has characterised his artistic activity so much. To the same cycle also belong more static works, like Il Giudizio di Paride (1984), in which a Renaissance, and at the same time, expressionistic root can be found. Nudes, a constant in Sassu's work, inserted in a classical scenery, stand out for their chromatic contrasts, to underline the harmony between man and nature.
An expression of elementary feelings through the representation of a simple lyric, in shapes and colours.
The impact with Paris in 1934 and with its urban atmosphere, stimulating and lively, filled with the lesson of the French Nineteenth century, determines a metamorphosis.
The artist lives the craze, the atmosphere and the rythms of the capital city. The chromatic violence and the pictorial tension leave their place to a calmer harmony, in a fullness and ecstatic enjoyment of being part of the cultural happenings of the time, in which Paris puts itself as the landmark. The works of this period acquire a more tangible concreteness. The artist delineates a space, lively and sensitive, available to change. He catches the moment of it, he stops on the canvas only a moment of what is the dance of life, between ups and downs, ordinary and extraordinary. Sassu lets himself be charmed by the bourgeois environment, in which the figures seem pleasantly relaxed, the atmospheres crowded and pulsing with life. A real life that is opposed to the transcendental reality of the previous mythological works, a research of life which starts from a research of nature to land into the contemporary and ordinary.
It is the Paris of the smokey cafès, of the restaurants, of the shining lights and of the dense stories, of characters who communicate a sense of isolation and of incommunicability, even within social relationships.
In 1937 Sassu is arrested, accused of conspiracy and condemned to ten years of reclusion in Fossano. The accusation is that of subversion of the public order, following the retrieval by the secret police (OVRA) of a manifest that pushes towards an insurrection against fascism. In jail he is allowed to draw using pencils, inks, sanguine, watercolours.
The production of the time, actually dense, denotes an ease of execution: exercises on the themes he is passionate about such as myth, nudes, to which he adds the portraits of inmates, that represent traces of the pictorial contribution on his canvases.
In 1954 he travels to Vallauris where he meets Picasso, of whom he is a great admirer. The style becomes less rarefied and more precise in the details, in search of a new spatiality, of a more descriptive narration. It is in these years that works like Il circo and La fiera are created, both of 1955, stimulated by the encounter with the Spanish artist and which give shape to themes also present in the research of impressionists and expressionists, important references for Sassu's art. In these works he represents a fake reality, an apparent joy behind suffering. Characters that wear the colours of life, filtered through a mask posed in front of the world that stages an illusionary improvisation, a mental physiognomy necessary to survive in a period of great conflicts and lacerations.
But to enrich the already bright passion of the artist comes the Spanish period, in Mallorca, where he constantly goes from 1964. Stays that are alternated with visits to Italy, during which he experiences the acrylics and creates pictorial works of strong chromatics, morbid and harmonious outlines and of a formal essentiality, inserted in deduced spaces and often little defined.
An eclectic, then, but also an intuitive creator, witness of his time, whose display revalues the modernity of his language and the sense of a research lived like a deep formal experimentation, with an immediacy and an essentiality of ideation that correspond to the contemporary sensitivity.

Altri link:  Archivio Aligi SassuArchivio Sassu Divina CommediaMurale di Bruxelles

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