Devo confessare che faccio un lavoro fantastico, mi sogno incontri con cose, oggetti e dipinti; come mi sveglio sento il bisogno di incontrarmi con Arturo. Una telefonata, gli annuncio che arrivo (ben felice dell'incontro, mi aspetta), eccomi finalmente allo studio a Fucecchio, lo trovo molto amareggiato a causa della poca sensibilita' delle autorita' del luogo che vanno spesso a disturbarlo (G.R.D.C.), poiche' il buon gusto da quelle parti diventa molto raro. Ci mettiamo a parlare dei suoi quadri e subito mi fa vedere una serie di carte del 1954, piccole, bellissime, pensate in quegli anni di grande pittura: "mi sembra subito di trovarmi di fronte a tutte quelle magnifiche opere degli artisti degli anni Cinquanta (oggi museali); amici con una ricchezza tale di immagini e di ricerca. In quel mondo si parlava di pittura, di informale e dei vari artisti che si incontravano in quelle Biennali. Tutto cio' accadeva con Fontana, Mathieu, Chighine, il silenzioso Tancredi, e lo stravagante Roberto, ma l'arte era solo arte, non era ancora entrata in Borsa; quindi spoglia da speculazioni rimaneva tutta la sua esistenza di emotivita' poetica rinnovata da artista ad artista" . Dopo queste considerazioni torno con i piedi per terra, incominciando a sognare in un altro modo: queste opere su carta, pungenti come se danzassero davanti ai miei occhi per prendermi in giro, mi provocano: ebbene, visto che volete farvi vedere ed ammirare nel vostro intimo, e scatenate in me quel solletico immaginario a tal punto che assieme a voi sono veramente felice, arrivo a trasformarvi in orchestra e farvi suonare, sussurrare tutto il fascino del vostro trasmettere ad ognuno di noi, a chi riesce a guardarvi con gli occhi della mente.

Enzo Spadon

ARTURO CARMASSI "Come possedere correttamente un Carmassi"


In 1530 the Florentine, Alderotto Brunelleschi, following a traumatizing "experienzia" as a navigator with Verrazzano, retired to a Sienese villa owned by him - in which water was rigorously prohibited - and applied himself to collecting paintings. In Venice, ten years later, he printed a little sixteenmo which treated the art of adorning a home with "dipinture" [paintings]. This was the summa of another "experienzia" which although being circumscribed within the space of only one home, and to the trifling number of merely one hundred works, arrived at general conclusions of a certain importance. And it is one of these conclusions which above all interests us here: that some paintings - and only due to the fact of having been created by some artists rather than by others - embody "diverse impedimenta". If we read carefully, and notwithstanding the elusive syntax employed by the author, in these paintings Alderotto noted an innate rejection of syntony with an indeterminate environment, the arrogant obstinacy to provoke "signs and gestures of varying imagination" if placed "without whatever care". From among the most 'reluctant' paintings singled out by Alderotto were those by "a certain Carmatio Lucchese, strange man, painter of noteworthy grace and delightful eye, even if much nearing on necromancy". After innumerable attempts Alderotto managed to find a static position for these paintings, aimed in some way at neutralizing them. He arranged them over two walls which were respectively orientated east to southwest and from north to southeast, their surface being calculated on the basis of the square produced by the result of three numbers increased by the addition of one of these same numbers. A compromise arrangement, as one can see. In fact, Brunelleschi maintained that the best systemization would have required one wall equal to two-thirds of the A Bao A Qu Palace of Chtor and the other equal to three-fifths of the temple erected by Heliogabalus in honour of the bird Garuda. Even if during the past decades the problem has come to the fore increasingly less frequently, given the fortunate adaptability on the part of modern painting to whatever environment and ambience, one has nevertheless heard requests from various sources regarding the 'behaviour' of the works of a painter - Arturo Carmassi - who is apparently the unwitting author of canvases that embody a very elevated quotient of reactivity. In having to exclude our readers from employing the sumptuous - albeit provisional - solutions proposed by Alderotto, whether due to building or to economic reasons, we have dutifully gathered information regarding the painter and his critics. This has led us to a personal conclusion which even if corroborated by the opinion of eminent scholars does, in some way, differ from general convictions (and not so much in the general and main approaches but in a number of by no means negligible details). The merit of the French scholars of Carmassi (Vaillot, Simon and Perrier), of the Germans (Lipke and Holtz), of the Italians (Curatolo and La Rosa) and of the distinguished AbbŽ C. (Celant) has above all been the upsetting of the normal spectator/work relationship. Let us exactly quote the optative prose by AbbŽ C. with which we fully agree: "In whatever way a Carmassi enters your home, be it by way of barter, the exchange of money for a good, as a donation or by way of telekinesis, consider that it has not come into your hands in order to agree with the colour of the walls, to cover the scar left by a burglary or discolouration brought about by time. An underlying vein of a path which is as improbable as it is logical has led to its arrival. It is not you who has chosen it. You are simply the convergent point of an extremely subtle network of occasions and events". In having established this subordinate role of the owner-cum-owned as the final link of a rigorous chain of causality, the various critical schools are nevertheless at variance with regard to the ways and means for the indispensable initiation of the spectator. The French propose a sort of exhaustive "gradus ad Parnassum" which includes study of the Cabala and, consequently, of Villiers, Nerval, Potocki, MallarmŽ, Rimbaud, de Sade, Jarry, Artaud, Breton, Dylan Thomas and Bataille. Besides the glaring absence of LautrŽamont, Restif and Aloysius, this preparation tends to steer the spectator towards the Collge de France or to the Collge de Pataphysique, distracting him from the principal aim of his education. Identical criticism can be made against the Germans who acclaim a similar gradus with the coherent and obstinate exclusion of all the names presented by the French, in their place brandishing the names of Hšlderin, Novalis, Trakl and Hesse (and the brutal Holtz maintains that also the viewing of documentaries treating concentration camps would be highly propaedeutical). From among the Italians, and after having timidly exalted the name of Campana, La Rocca favours an initiation ritual that reproduces certain Orphic practices and certain Cretan labyrinthine paths. Curatolo - whose Parthenopean origin is evident - instead hastily inclines towards advising the use of magical charms to be placed around the frames of the paintings. In a considerably more subtle manner AbbŽ C. insinuates that the painter's diabolism and erotism, apparent in his frequent use of horns and sexual symbols, are merely the verso of a medal whose obverse bears the undisputable signs of an austere sanctity. Fortified by the conviction that the heretic and the Father of the Church are simply the two accidents of an inseparable whole, AbbŽ C. proposes that the fruition of Carmassi's paintings be systematically carried out with The Gospels to hand. However, in this practice it is clear that one sees a remnant of medieval professional deformation in making recourse to a sort of exorcism which is offensive to both who exercises it and to the person who is subjected to it. In having come into possession of a canvas by Carmassi, not casually but causally, we have for our own part wanted to gamble a little: by starting out from the elementarily tautological - and for many disappointing - presupposition that the painter Carmassi is only and exclusively a painter. In other words, that he is a man who acts with brush and colours who does not indulge in expressing his own urgent needs by way of the exhibiting of 'misŽrables', of prolonged shoutings and roarings, of variously organic matter and of monstrous additions of different materials, as appears to be the desire on the part of today's easy habits. We consequently left the thoughtful tomes supplicated by the eminent scholars to lie in the bookcase, also abstaining from making recourse to The Gospels and to charms. As a sextant and compass combined, it was a small but extensively illustrated atlas of the history of art that the eye lingered over, every now and again, dwelling on some not unseemly illustrations of Simone Martini, Paolo Uccello, Coubert, Delacroix and Bosch. In this way one had a continuous triangulation between the atlas, Carmassi and the other reproductions of old [Masters] and very modern painters which we had suitably arranged around us. At the beginning of the experiment - and I apologize for the desolating, 'reporting' tone which I shall have to use from this point on - the Carmassi in such an emblazoned and generic company manifested "impedimenta" that were so perceptible as to give rise to an acute headache and to a sense of bewilderment, while the entire house was subjected to a vibration equal to the sixth-degree on the Mercalli scale. The discomfort then began to lose much of its intensity as the other reproduced paintings were gradually removed from the wall (the others, it should be noted, not the Carmassi). Here we shall skip the criterion as well as the hierarchical order we followed in this progressive restitution of the empty space around the Carmassi (where doubt was often tinged with anxiety and the elimination with sacrilegious horror). We shall only say that the attenuation of the rejection phenomena took advantage of a regressive time scale: as the contemporary paintings gradually disappeared the Carmassi appeared - to put it this way - more at ease, and the "impedimenta" as a whole diminished to the point of being sustainable. When the wall was finally left with the Carmassi and three reproductions (the "Flagellation" by della Francesca, "The Adoration of the Magi" by Brueghel and "The Turkish Bath" by Ingres), it not only appeared extremely clear that every impediment had suddenly 'given in' but that we also experienced a very slight feeling of 'levitation'. This was perhaps due - thanks to inversion - to the whole of the apartment returning to its usual, natural equilibrium. These are the essential data of our experiment which, as one can see, lacks whatever kind of scientific support and, in this sense, is very easily confutable. It is therefore our by now rooted conviction that the painter, Carmassi, encounters his ideal dimension within the sphere of a so-called "classical" aura. Plus the fact that from now on we cannot look at Carmassi without thinking of Piero, Paolo, Eugne, Dominique and Hieronymus who conform to an extremely private affair which certainly does not regard our patient readers who have asked us advice as to how to correctly own a Carmassi. ANDREA CAMILLERI Translated by Howard Rodger MacLean

ARTURO CARMASSI "Come possedere correttamente un Carmassi"


2007, Galleria Morone