|Direction One ------->
During August each year, there is the traditional walk up to Lago Santo on the other side of the mountains to spend the evening by the side of the lake before walking back into Barga the following morning.
The views from the top of the mountains looking out across the divide between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna are to say the least, spectacular but each time I have trudged up the mountain my eyes were taken not by the natural beauty but rather by man made colours; the painted marks on the rocks every 200 metres or so, that define and show which particular path you are on.
A colour coded signpost to stop the unwary from wandering off in the wrong direction.
Not too visually intrusive that the painted marks destroy the natural beauty of the place but at the same time, strong enough to be seen in times of need, such as when one of those terrible summer storms suddenly arrives and visibility is down to metres in a couple of minutes as the clouds swirl around you.
Each path has its own colour coded mark and each area has its own colours.
As time and the elements decay the painted image, they are repainted but traces of past versions show through giving each mark a “visual history”.
I imagined the person who had to paint these signs, trudging along
the paths with a rucksack containing his/her 2 pots of paint (most
of the signs being just one or two colours) and a couple of brushes
probably wrapped up in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out.
The actual painting must be almost automatic after the first ten
or twenty signs all the same. Dip, paint, dip, paint and then move
on to the next one. Almost a zen experience that the Chinese traditional
script writers with their large brushes and repetitive movements
would probably have understood to a degree.
Direction Two ------>
I was invited by the Casa Cordati to make some work based around the paintings of Bruno Cordati.
As Frank Viviano says “The conventional wisdom is that Cordati’s most important statements were made before and during his Balkan sojourn, in portraits and character studies that ignored the abstract mode of his contemporaries in favour of a psychologically intense realism
After spending time with his paintings however, I came to think
that Cordati’s decisive journey as an artist began after
his return to Italy and continued unabated to his death in 1979
A story recounted by his daughter Bruna, once entered my head, refused to leave. That of her distinct memory of two men working in the studio in front of two easels: one was her father painting, the other his friend Paolo, who was cancelling old canvases and preparing them to be used once again.
I decided to base my work around the paintings done in Cordati’s “difficult” late period to see if I could find some signs along the way to help me understand them a little clearer. The more I looked, the more I found..
The gift of a dozen “virgin” canvases that Cordati had
prepared but not used and the
discovery of some of Cordati’s older canvases that had been
sanded over, the images half destroyed and prepared for further painting
added spice to the whole experiment
I started looking at other signs out in the open like the painted
trail markers but this time to be found in the cities and of a
less durable nature (they are chalked on pavements and walls) but
which are also carriers of information and zone marking– the
WARCHALKS of people looking for internet
wireless networks – the direct descendents of the hobbo’s
s code of 1920’s and 30’s America and the chalked marks
left by gypsies.