GIANCARLO CERRI – Discovering the exhibition “I quadri dell’orbo”

Red Carpet has the honor of being among the media partners of this important artistic and cultural event. We have been able to deepen with the author of the works on display his new way of experiencing painting.

by Maria Lucia Tangorra

What strikes about the artist Giancarlo Cerri is his undaunted desire to do, even in the face of impediments that may seem insurmountable, given that for over ten years he is visually impaired. From 19 March to 6 April 2019 at the Cultural Center of Milan (in Largo Corsia dei Servi 4) he will present his new exhibition with a very evocative title: “I quadri dell’orbo”. The exhibition, curated by Stefano de Angelis, was organized in collaboration with CBM Italia Onlus, the humanitarian organization committed to the prevention of avoidable blindness in the countries of the South of the world. In fact, we would like to highlight one point: the works will be sold all at the same price (1,000 euros) and the proceeds will go to support the program of treatment and prevention of preminoid retinopathy in Latin America, where CBM is present in several countries like Bolivia, Paraguay and, from 2019, in Guatemala, training local medical personnel and providing tools for early identification and treatment of the disease.

This initiative also aims to be a «gesture of generosity» and it is a demonstration of how art can act concretely at the service of humanitarian projects, with a sensitivity developed from personal experiences.

Giancarlo Cerri, born in 1938, «is one of the rare artists who, in addition to having chosen the path of pictorial research from 1960s […], he stands towards the art world with a detached and critical gaze, capable of theorizing about oneself and others. It’s not a coincidence that Cerri worked in the Milanese cultural environment as a painter and as curator of exhibitions in important exhibition spaces in Milan (such as the Centro Culturale De Gasperi, from 1988 to 1995), criticof art for magazines “Arte Incontro” and “L’Ottagono”, honorary member of the historical institution in La Permanente of Milano» (from the essay “Vitalità della pittura” by Emma Zanella included in the catalog on the exhibition “La pittura dipinta”, 2005) .

In his first phase, Cerri practiced storytelling, painting from life in the early years (the ‘50s and’ 60s), «the painting of emotional-material impact arrived, but with a vision that goes beyond of figuration and becomes informal (until the beginning of the 90s) and then get to free abstract with three or two colors» he told us showing us an example for each phase. «In 2003 I began to have the first symptoms of the disease and I resisted until spring 2005 when I chose to stop. In the years to follow I tried to get back to painting, but those attempts did not convince me». Finally, in 2016 comes the intuition that brings him back to create, strong memories, of the great experience accumulated, the huge cultural baggage and perhaps, in the first place, the imagination.

At this point in his life the artist sees very little for which he no longer captures the various shades, so on each jar there is a special label that supports him in the moment of the choice of color. «The colors must be lively and, at the same time, timbre, they are my abstract paintings, with a strong visual impact».

He explained us the creative process that currently follows, he uses acrylic paints, previously he worked with oil colors that, however, require a long drying process. «My idea to go back to practice painting was this: before I actually work, I get an idea of ​​what I want to do. Then I fixe on the white canvas the shapes cut out of paperboard and around I place some adhesive tape to isolate the areas that I intend to paint. At that point, removed the paper, I use the yellow that is always a stroke of light and I imagine what color could look good next to – for example the green – and below I paint the other circumscribed area of ​​red. These three colors are those that I consider at the base of my chromaticism, as they create a beautiful lightness among them. After the first draft and the proper drying, I usually give a second hand, and at that point I intervene with the black, that in this painting is essential because it serves to detach the picture, giving it strength; while in other places I deliberately leave white areas, that correspond to the color of the canvas, not to painting. So, I discovered that nothing is more beautiful than placing the primary colors next to the white, that, in this way, is enhanced; as a counterpoint, nothing is more significant and powerful than black compared to pure colors».

The exhibition “I quadri dell’orbo” was born from an idea by Stefano de Angelis and Massimo Maggio, director of CBM Italia Onlus and includes twenty-one works created in 2017, when the artist returned to paint despite the severe maculopathy that is leading him towards total blindness. Each painting carries a single title, very symptomatic: “sequenza plurima a memoria”. Looking at Cerri’s creations and listening to him, he really hits the mutation of his gaze and how he managed to reinvent himself, without ever losing the profound ability to read and return on canvas what surrounds him.

«This my exhibition is dedicated to all the visual arts artists who, like me, have been hit by serious forms of eye diseases. Come on, don’t give up on bad luck, react! We must never forget that the eyes are very important, but there is something that matters even more: the creative imagination. You can paint a lot more with your head than with your eyes» and we can’ but raise these words of the artist so heard.

Credits Press Office: Studio de Angelis, Milan

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