Epistola ad un giovane artista

For those among us who know where art originates, it becomes necessary to live fully its presence. 

To dive headfirst in a global experience that others, from their point of view, call  «passione». Luca knows with certainty, him being a cunning and mature person for his age, that art is not so much a question of passion or eroticism – emotions either a little too generic or vast, depending on the case – rather of a much more identified ensemble of facts and knowledge that determine, in their impetuous revealing of themselves, the birth of true and mature works of art. 

Sifting through these albums containing the works of Monti Luca – as he himself likes referring to himself – it seems as though we truly find ourselves in front of one of those rare cases where the «studium» – a Latin term under which we could summarize the manifestation of the circumstances we were talking about – takes center stage to break through violently in another horizon, beyond the detached screen of the emulsified surface.

Hence Luca, let this be clear, is fully aware of the career he is choosing for himself. Actually, it would maybe be better to say that he has already chosen everything, if the marks of the first art are the decisive ones for all artists. Above all – that is what distinguishes him from many young “neophytes” – he has chosen – as we were remarking at the beginning – to “do” something immediately and do it well. That is to say, he wants to enact a mental process of analysis, memory, suggestions, within an operating procedure that results immediately in complete pieces, in right and proper “pieces” extremely mature, that in their turning into task make the «studium» that preceded them fade into the background, forgotten.

Priority of the procedure, of the work accomplished with the camera in a dark chamber. But do pay attention: this immediate joining of the making and conceiving – what seems to emerge in Luca as perhaps his greatest gift – is not merely a revealing of itself as it may seem in some ways. To create a piece, it is not enough to follow the mental template that inspires it from afar, nor the technical knowledge tied to that moment or that fact of the history of photography, so that each new sensation that inspires it may recognize its immediate meaning in that which the culture attributes it, in every sign.
There is something more in this dialectic, one so intense and heavy with consequences for the history of human production – of the artistic one in particular – that around it, the fields of linguistics, structural anthropology, sociology of the arts, have poured the efforts of the most updated researches in the last century.

For short, we ask ourselves – without finding an easy answer – what is, if it exists, and how can we describe that distinct act of historic definition of the language, through which the innovator element of the word emerges, and on which register we can inscribe the entire series of events themselves irreducible to the social, political, artistic history through which the language system took form with time, if not as a fact relative to the physical presence of the author ? 

Sifting through Luca’s photographic albums, we have felt as though in front of marks so intense in their uniqueness and diversity – if it is possible to find a visible trace of them, in some way – as to make clear the presence of the author, and the strength beyond the creating force that alone can avoid the censure in which a piece of art, in its uniqueness, takes form.

We can see how in Monti Luca every mark reveals immediately its history – the history of photography throughout this last century – and its assimilation. Luca is aware too that he has masters to refer to, but the unripe eagerness to grow and mature forces him into a cancellation. If not only for the fact, as we all know, that nothing so intensely rooted in the subconscious – and thus present in the artist’s personality – can but become even more present in our work when it is consciously repressed. And so the Monti Luca presented to us as a sort of example of the author in these works, lets far more pass through than Luca may be willingly letting us see of his artistic history, and maybe even more than that.

Luca’s photography is a research divided between formal abstraction and human contents, between rich calligraphy and the pounding presence of souls, people. That is why – one could say – it expresses itself in ways that vary between environment picture and reportage, and within these extremely vast genres, between the effort of a formal construction and a direct recording like a “street photography”; between a social reportage and one that captures moments of intimate colours with narrative accents. What does all of this mean?

It means that Luca, going beyond the easy deductions that each young artist is tempted to fall into, with their contamination and transit on different sources of inspiration, (only to notice in those cases the lack of the resolving act so differently evident in Luca’s works) is instead on the search of an essentially stylistic unit, of an individual figure. Thus, here we have the moderating lesson of one of his “missed” fathers, a certain unknown Paolo Monti, and of his strong pacifying contrasts between the ancient and opposing tensions of form and content, of high golden keys and neglected lands of common life.

Therefore style, meaning language, as the distinctive element of all creation and, as we were trying to underline previously, sign of certain corporeal forces, hidden within language. This might mean the use of a cultivated language, sometimes refined, as now shown in the series of nude pieces; or in those dramatic pictures emerging from the darkness of a theatric scene not unlike ancient flashes produced by magnesium; or as certain environments pervaded by deep shadows and French flavours, reminding us of Atget or Doisneau. But also, and it seems primarily, in the most realistic formal framings, alternatively originated by a certain new German objectivity or by a delicate form of environmental description of clear Italian mould. Without the exasperated elevation of colors typical of Cavalli, and instead with some of the colours in Leiss’ misty atmospheres.

In conclusion, it is evident to everyone – without lingering on more elegant exegesis – that we have in front of us an author extremely aware of himself; an author determined to not miss that moment during which, among the many possible turns of language, one can affirm his most enlightening word, even if such word rises – almost as if sealing in contrast the sense of its poetic – from the deepest darkness of shadows and the violent struggle passionately lived between light and darkness.

Un artista che sarebbe sbagliato, anche adesso, lasciarsi sfuggire.

Giuseppe Cannilla

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