Stefano Cecchetto

The Alchemical Moons of Luciana Cicogna

Observing recent works by Luciana Cicogna, I am reminded of an old book of poetry by Mario Luzi with a title that comes from long ago: Per il battesimo dei nostri frammenti (For the Baptism of Our Fragments).

I would not know how to explain the concrete motif of this evocation, perhaps it is only a suggestion related to the poetic universe of Luciana's painting, a pretext for a depiction that refers to the word, or to its visual decryption.

Thus, the objects become symbols, the "apparitions" signs, in a space where all moves and changes in the otherwise apparent stillness of her work, in which life continually hides, germinates, grows, dies and is reborn.

Inside the perimeter of these her new canvases, Luciana Cicogna has perhaps reached the motionless time of an evanescent mood that disregards all narrative expectations and is concentrated in the assembled and reassembled movement of the subject. The moons appear, therefore, in sequence, like a free suite of evocative fragments that gives rise to an architecture of thought: suspended, because illusory, but at the same time present through its metaphysical value.

The dialogue between memory and contemporaneity becomes a game of roles unfolding throughout art history in a kind of peremptory comparison that springs from the necessity of a meeting but that then inevitably turns into conflict. Yet it is exactly in the game of this contradiction, in this dualism, that the spirit of belonging to the universe of contemporary art is affirmed.

Luciana Cicogna works with the skill of the craft and persists in the declaration of a personal figurative language in which the vision extends into a reverse prospective of rear chromatic skill. Within those spaces, in the interspace of the stylistic solutions that the artist faces, it is still possible to notice the suggestions of the great Renaissance lessons, reinterpreted however from a modern and vital perspective.

The artist and alchemist share the same aim: "to create in order to know, to know in order to transform", thus art and alchemy become instruments of perception and of knowledge. When the artist prepares the colours and mixes them so they can be spread on the canvas, she filters and modifies the codes of the traditional iconic vocabulary in search of a personal system of visual communication and a symbology that is no longer an imitation of classical iconography, but a free expression of her own pictorial universe.

t is in the exploration of the themes and matter that contemporary artists link themselves to the great tradition of the history of art and renew it, it is in this way that they become a medium between the conceptual idea and the planned execution of the work.

A theatre of the memory this - which Luciana suggests already in the titles of these new works of hers: Lievi movimenti (Light movements); Triangoli e corteccia (Triangles and Cortex); Notturno (Nocturnal); Tempo sospeso (Suspended Time); and then the different moons, Lune, ordered in the precise inventory of varied chromaticism.

Luciana Cicogna's pictorial universe is packed full of apparitions, echoes, shadows and symbols that refer to the past, and these 'visions' of hers take on the value of epiphanies that interrupt the course of reality and add something of the luminous and, at the same time, of the gloom.

In this game of expediency conjures to my mind the Angeli ribelli and the Amalassunte by Osvaldo Licini, those 'imperfect' figures that the artist expands in the visible space, but that come from a space that is 'other' from the universe of the invisible.

Art is the instrument that places us before an incomparable mirror - an observatory - on what we have been and what we shall become, but with the awareness that the present is a fleeting state and therefore 'that which we are' is only an instant that no longer has any reason to exist.

It is in this oscillation that the work of Luciana Cicogna takes shape: her Moons suspended in space, the cortexes - natural and artificial - placed as a shield of defence against the inclemencies of life, her darts like signs and signals of diverging paths linking memories to the projection of a possible future.

The artist is never indulgent with herself; she provokes deep lacerations, unvoiced sentiments and conflicts; it is a shifting condition that takes shape between the work and its representation. The aim for the artist is to reconstruct time and space, by placing herself as the principal figure of an artifice; the metaphysical profusion of the Ego as a unique measure of the world, the individual as as living metaphor of truth.

By this means, with her work Luciana Cicogna contributes to the construction of a personal and collective memory, no visualization of her experience is left to oblivion: each thought, each object, each event must be registered to safeguard a regained identity.

The purpose of this choice of hers is always to cross those boundaries that divide the artist from the outside observer; the control over pictorial technique and the sophisticated 'genius' of the aesthetic ratio nevertheless place a barrier between the 'masterful creator' and the spectator who gazes at the image.

But Luciana's painting is essentially intimate and reflective and I am inclined to believe that in the carefully thought out and unconstrained arrangement of the objects, she declares in any case the tension underlying her strokes and the courage of her choices.

It required the sharp eye of Giuseppe Marchiori1 to point out the affinity between Luciana and that other enlightened artist Bice Lazzari, and to associate them in the rigour and discipline of a common intellectual consciousness:

...The act of taking refuge in her own interior world is not, for Luciana, a flight: it is instead a difficult conquest, which ideally comes close to that austere moral figure of another Venetian painter, Bice Lazzari, who believed only in an authentic intellectual discipline, in the values of research into style, without the least concession to the aspects of a too-easy modernity. Luciana has managed to achieve images of extreme purity, of a lyric character that is clinched through a colouristic musicality of simple shades, of a mysterious humility, of an intimate harmony...2

The anxiety of the mirror sets absolute conditions and thereby brings to light feelings that then vanish into the shadows, while still remaining on the canvas as a warning: evocations out of chaos that then turn into revelations.

The artist chases her own shadow and then fixes it within a circumscribed perimeter, so as to tell a story enclosing many other stories. Through her work, Luciana Cicogna shows that faraway, beyond all barriers, there extend realms that belong to her - unexplored worlds awaiting to be revealed - and that it is still possible to gaze beyond the visible. Behind the alchemy of her Moons it is possible to catch a glimpse of a thin layer of small, imperceptible marks that only come to the surface when the canvas is shifted and meets a reflection of pulsating light.

n 1910 Ego Schiele wrote: "I am everything at once, but I shall never do everything at once." Perhaps the best definition of memory and simultaneity is: to be aware of living in one's own time and to continue searching for the best means to represent this."

1 Giuseppe Marchiori, (Lendinara (Ro), 1901 - 1982) art critic, curator and journalist.
2 G. Marchiori, Idee sul tempo, presentation of the exhibition by Luciana Cicogna, Venice,1980