Giuseppe Mazzariol and Maurizio Pellegrin
in occasion of the artist’s exhibition at the Department of Art History and Criticism, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Philosophy, University of Ca’ Foscari, Venice, 1988
I must say that this evening we have rather rare, or better yet, unique occasion.
Here among us is an artist who emerged from this school. He didn’t graduate from any Fine Arts Academy and had this experience after secondary school, this experience here at Faculty of Liberal Arts, attending – very intensely I must say – the Institute that was then called “Artistic Disciplines” and later became the Department of Art History and Criticism. He graduated with me as his professor, with a thesis on Painting to Fresco in Venice and in the Veneto in the Neoclassical period. He conducted a very scrupulous work of philological nature, very rigorous for the historic-critical reconstruction of these decorative apparatuses. Well then,
I would say that it didn’t really shock me that, when he completed his post-Laureum research of the National Research Center (which came about as a result of a well-constructed thesis, trying to extend beyond and to profoundly examine this very neglected time period in painting), I heard he became a painter, because his way of reading painting and his entire way of being, allowed me to understand this leap towards creativity, towards unmediated, direct expressions.
I have always had a very nice relationship with him, very affectionate, or at least I did, and after years of organizing these small exhibits, I thought to myself “But where is Pellegrin? Why not him? Is he is Venice?” We came to learn that he wasn’t here, he was elsewhere, he was in Rome. And in just a few years he has constructed, and I would say with extreme ability, a series of extremely important experiences so much that today he is certainly one of most called upon figures of attention and reference of this generation of artists who bring forth a certain concept by themselves and who represent the historic progress of the last two decades of this century.
He is an artist who presents very particular characteristics, meaning an artist that has accumulated a lot. The term accumulated is perhaps the right term that can be given to his internal and linguistic process. He has accumulated different moments and experiences, culturally and expressively typical of other artists, as well as of different areas of research. And this accumulation has been a very rapid accumulation, not only because it has been proven in such a short amount of time, but because it’s, how would you say….the product of a very dense intertestuality that allows him to gather several situations at once and use them as pretexts. And these pretexts are particularly necessary for his type of expression, which is substantially a lyrical expression. He has recently docked in Rome, on the Tiburtina, in the great pastificio that is generally referred to as the Transavanguardia in a certain period of time, but where there are now also other young artists. This has placed him in a certain group of artists who share both interests and orientation, but also, adhesion, because interests and orientation often consent to a very dialectic and reactive relationship – as what often happens with a temperament as that of Maurizio Pellegrin. He arrived in Rome at a time when there begins to be, but he had already known it, a certain boredom of painting that was brought about and created after Transavanguardia, Citationism, etc. Painting which at a certain moment satiated and therefore, one needed to inevitably reflect on past situations, liberated from ideologies and schemes. I must say, that before going to Rome, I only knew a few of Maurizio Pellegrin’s works, that they were characterized by a dominant pictorial nature. At home I have a small charcoal drawing of his, with an extremely expressive quality, truly a rare work and I believe that I have never had the opportunity to thank him for this gift. I placed it in my country home, where I prefer living, because it has an autobiographical and extremely significant mark.
He had this very vivacious, extroverted temperament, very creative, everything based on the imagination. One would say that this has been a process of interiorization and therefore, of limitation and choice, and he has arrived at this extreme modesty, whether from a chromatic point of view or a marked viewpoint. Earlier I spoke of accumulation and in describing his works, one must also use another term, a term that we used before, the term “contamination”. That is, the possibility to guide different ways and behaviors in a kind shared presence and contextuality. This in a spatial sphere, to which Pellegrin bears particular attention. There is a series of moments, that he always spent with internal coherence, according to an expressionistic motif (but very fragmentary in nature), that is, paying attentive to certain suggestions similar to those of Twombly, Novelli, and also Pop Art. His art links photographic facts to comics, the weekly news, book and magazine covers, posters. I used the word “accumulation” because it isn’t only a direct pictorial experience strictly tied to the pictorial tradition, but it is also linked to photography, cinema, design. Thus there is a need to revisit those contaminated, but also different, diversified areas. From a linguistic viewpoint, there is a need to repropose them and look at them under a specific optic, with a determined finalization.
A short time ago, he said that Venice remains one of the places – maybe the only place – that he feels connected to. And yet he also needs to distance himself from it, and this is why he is currently working and living in Rome. Tomorrow who knows? Maybe he will be in New York or some other city in the world. But Venice will always remain in his memory, a place of soul, a place that he will need. Venice is a city that binds him, that fascinates him, but also destroys him. I said that Inezia will remain, above all, a sense of light, this great theme of the light. The light of Inezia conditions you, this great Venetian tradition, which comforts me when I am far; and while he said these things, I recalled the great lesson that we learned from Carlo Dionisotti who speaks of geography and history. It is true that we have spoken a little too much about indifferential koinè, about a language that is valid everywhere.
The language is the same in Tokyo as in London, as in Venice, but now instead he yet again reproposes these problems of local cultures, not in a local sense, in a circulation of interests which are planetary interests. There are these signs, these original markings and in this sense our painter distances himself from us, he surely doesn’t befriend us, he doesn’t involve himself with us at all. He would be inclined towards irony, or rather, to very reduced and rigorous intellectual modalities. Notwithstanding all of this, his Venetian origins are centered on the light, on the expansion of sense.
Earlier while I was talking, I brought up the term “lyrical…”, maybe to say a way of being, maybe an aspiration, maybe something to be cautious of and to pay attention to not being excessively indulgent. This term continually becomes intriguing, it means that it’s important, it has deep meanings. There is a sort of declination in this “lyrical”, one of inner reflection. All of this is present in these objects that show themselves with anonymity, that show they are things, they are there and yet nothing offers an immediate connection. Then instead, if you want to relate to these same objects, you began to see all of their inner refinements and also their own intimate modesties, so that certain signs that were part of his expressive repertoire some time ago begin to come to mind.