Bisantium (L. Meneghelli)

(In Sandro Sanna “Bisanzio” – solo show catalog, Giulia Gallery, Rome 1994).

Beyond theoretical strictness: beyond tautological ostentation of elementary traits of painting (color, sign, surface): beyond painting in order to study painting.  And still minimal excitements of the glance, symptoms of the dawn of image, expressive understatement.  Surfaces and slender depths grasped by “golden nails”: without mundane winking (of chthonic crystal or sidereal rhythms), but simple localization of a spatial simultaneity, protrusions (or cavities) which point back and forth to a nocturnal matter, which retracts and expands in an infinity of heart beats (1).

Points, but not boundaries, which would be measure of horizons, of broken space.  Sanna’s painting, on the contrary, pretends to be that horizon and nothing else: opened, without boundaries: even if not to be completed like a map of the stars (Luciano Fabbro’s way: a man who calculates the distances between stars, looking for his own habitat in the universe: in front, backwards, to the right, to the left), reaching point to be followed in its ambiguous extension.  Ambiguous, not only as subject to the laws of dynamics (of dense, diffuse obscurity), but also as work of breathes of physiologic clarity which dare to impersonate themselves: and thus a proposition of a tale, and accent of formality.

But the problem is not about reality (of reference), but rather about the negation of truth: it is about materials which strike other materials, to the complete exhaustion, until they conceal one another: or a question of their perpetual defining and redefining, of their interaction which makes the surfaces a place of the things to be, a place of pure indetermination.  This is worth not for what it offers (affirms), but for what it leaves to be seen.  As Merleau-Ponty says: “any painting opens a visual field which then overtakes” (2).  In Sanna also, any surface leads beyond itself.  It is a physical factor which presents itself as metaphysical.  It is a presence which insinuates the hypothesis of absence.  Everything is there and in the same time everywhere else.  Art of the past and of the passer by.  Chain process revealed by successive actions, which leave trace in the traces. Multiple space (stratified) with their internal time, their continuous return (winding) on itself, without reaching the authentic ending (that of a real stand still).  Space of different hopes, which equal the ones of Cezanne, who sees the continuous loss of the theme to which he turns back again and again, even if, in the end, the only thing recorded is the loss of it.

It is like saying that, here, the will insist, to radicalize (constructing, filling in, canceling) does not lead to visual barriers, but to a sort of vastness, of unbounded space, of nowhere.  Because the signs do not multiply the meanings (the denotations): rather multiply the signs and move away the meanings.  And if in many of Sanna’s past works the surface was almost unveiling its own soul, by letting itself be crossed by beams of light, unveiling the very night of creation, now the sources of light are minimized, between the idea of knob (external point) and the idea of breach (intimate opening).  And if there, the chromatic elements were dragged out of the background to float like drifting icebergs, in this case the golden facets give way to a paradox: on one hand beats of continuous regeneration, on the other hand light depths, give the sense of pause, of material void. It is a kind of “static dynamism”, incredible still movement, movement on itself, resumed in a nucleus of luminous energy.  Bergsonian “vital leap” and “duration”, contracted in a unique signal, which touches, shakes, enchants in the way the “concise” testimony of a fall of Fontana do.  It is also true that the Italian-Argentinean artist  throws himself into “restless gesture, zeal, skill, illusion, love of life in the tight void” (3): but Sanna also gives a kind of hazarded attack, to grasp the astonishment of the moment, minimal traps which shaken the whole imaginative surface.

As a matter of fact, one of Sanna’s objectives was to create a feeling of restlessness and perceptive instability: an ever-changing painting according to the impact of light and the angles of observation.  If in his previous works there was the inside matter of the work of art to perform this task, through the material which opened its depth to the viewer allowing the light not only to emerge but even to become the gap between things, in his last works, the minute facets shiver the outer layer of the painting, without touching and dismantling it.  However these traces of slight clutter limit the space until it can no longer be stationary: but without tearing it apart, without gigantic gestures, without signs in immersion/surfacing, simply by declaring themselves: gold and darkness, lights, nothing else but lights, shimmering dust which glows in the dark, nothing else but darkness.  A constraint, gathering, submersion and germination (origin, Orient): infinitely small incidents, for a maximum alteration of perception.


Luigi Meneghelli