Toni Toniato


The new cycle of paintings by Luciana Cicogna may provide a clearer picture of what has always inspired the artist and constitutes the central feature of her expressive formulations, which are grounded on a vision of nature and its multiform manifestations - from microcosm to macrocosm - that is more than merely abstract and symbolic. Nature has always been a privileged source of inspiration for the imagery of the artist which, through the language of painting, explores and recreates the very metamorphic process of a living reality which reflects all human experiences, starting from that of art, particularly when it truly seeks out and expresses the deepest meaning of life and the world.

Now, one of the chief characteristics of the visual language of this artist is precisely the secret structure that informs the geometric order of its colour fields, bringing out their tonal and spatial articulation through a compellingly pervasive poetry of intimate perceptual and emotional resonances. With uncommon sensitivity, Cicogna conveys the formal elements of this underlying structure, its rhythms and spatial metrics, charmingly offering striking and evocative images.

Cicogna's painting has deep roots that may be traced back to the grand decorative art of Byzantium and Venice, which is reactivated and restored to life through a fruitful grafting on the experimental propositions of new abstraction - well beyond the rationalist suggestions of neo-constructivism and the cold theorems of neo-minimalism. The delicate and charming transparencies of these painted surfaces - partitioned into two or three perfectly matching colour frames - exudes an unmistakable gracefulness, as though the painting matter and the images which the artist conveys were touched by the gift of a reflecting amazement, or rather by a state of enchantment engendered by thoughtful probing and profound introspection. These essential visual webs - punctuated by consciously frontal sequences, modulated on recherché chromatic harmonies and light marks - are therefore chiefly structured according to a constructive balance that takes account of the timeless golden proportions of the Classical tradition. The very same tradition was previously drawn upon by Giuseppe Santomaso, with his famous "Lettere al Palladio". Besides, Cicogna was a pupil of Santomaso's at the Fine Arts Academy. Today, however, she is lending a different expression to this purely abstract language; or rather, her idea of abstraction - while equally lyrical - hinges on very different formal assumptions, open to more innovative expressive solutions.

What is now superimposed upon harmonious spatial modulations of colour, with striking objectivity, is the eroded and residual body of the fragment of a tree: a crumbling piece of wood which within the artist's expressive context embodies a kind of allusive and far from sacred "deposition". The painting, in turn, becomes an exhibited, open urn enclosing those "remains" - a minimalistic symbolic relic of nature - that have eloquently been turned into the main subject of the painting.

The meaning of the operation the artist is currently performing is rather evident: it constitutes an invitation to rediscover and newly love the world of nature, so as to safeguard it - and this includes what we are and where we come from. In any case, Cicogna certainly does not aspire to mimetically depict natural forms: as her artistic perspective is foreign to the yearning for imitation, the artist prefers to display this wooden fragment - exactly as it is - or rather this "scrap" - apparently a tree once - which she has salvaged and revealingly placed at the centre of bright strokes of colour, in what is now a boundless space.

What strikes our gaze in Cicogna's canvases is that sigma, an inescapable memento mori from nature itself, since the artist does not treat this relief as a fragment - a common, indistinct fragment, a casual piece of discarded wood - but rather assigns it full value as a whole, as the whole of nature which is present in each fragment that evokes it. This helps fully appreciate the reason why Cicogna has taken up the use of gold, a practice she inherited from her family, which has been working in the field of decoration for generations. The artist, however, employs gold as a symbol of the whole, of totality in the pictorial vision of light, of the idea of light. Light as gold: another allegorical element which the artist partly inherited from her study of the splendid mosaics in the Basilica of St Mark and which suitably, consistently fits with the new visions of her poetic abstraction. For, ultimately, this is what is at play: a pictorial abstraction conceived as the very substance of poetry. And as is widely known, the beauty of a vision belongs to the one who wishes to see.


Toni Toniato, March 2014