About La Pietà
The work that Giovanni Greppi presents is the fruit of several years of labour, of reflection and of experimentation in the field of engraving techniques. The system that he adopts is based on the overlaying of plates, thanks to which each sheet is produced, in practice, as a single piece. His interest has focused on the complex mechanism by which the images that we record in our memory, or in our consciousness, create an almost impenetrable totality, in which pleasant and tragic figures are superimposed in a single coagulation of shapes and colours. The principal element that distinguishes this cycle of sheets that he has prepared is his detachment from the naturalism which, behind the filter of chromatic research and pictorial effects, characterised his painting and graphic work of the 90's. It would seem to be paradoxical that this departure from naturalism is realised while the image becomes predominant as the origin or background of his procedure. In the final result, there may be the impression of a doubling-up of the possibilities of interpreting these works, since it is inevitable, in referring to images that are very often recognisable, to yield to the temptation of reading them, or the fragments that are most clearly evident in them, as a guide to a meaning which thus converges towards an immediate didactic contentualism. On the other hand, traces, like a fabric on which the expanded, impossible colours are to be unravelled, thus becoming exalted to virtuoso levels, like the highest notes of a violin, an integral part of a procedure that aims to unite the memory of the image and the independent pictorial character of the single version. Where Greppi succeeds in arriving at a real harmony between the two components of his work, the significance of the operation that he accomplishes achieves a balance which can only be momentary, but which remains in an area of vision that is not only limited, phenomenologically and physiologically, to the passage from the image to the eye to the brain. Indeed, in line with processes that have been amply demonstrated by investigations into the working of the media, we may consider that the images perceived do not pass necessarily through the filter of reason, or else that we perceive them as being different from what they are, on the basis of our experience. The indistinct composition thus evoked combines superimpositions of shapes or figures of which we succeed in being conscious, and others that could be defined as subliminal. It's not that Greppi is trying to cast a spell over us, or to act like a wizard of communication, but he, too, for different reasons, accumulates information that is reduced to an almost complete annihilation of information. He is telling us, and we can easily understand from this series of works, that there are at least two registers of stimuli in the material selected: on the one hand, the increasingly tragic, crude visions of human drama in all its forms, from violence to oneself and to others, to incomprehension, to the negation of the human; on the other, the intimate diary of glances based on hope which derives, for example, from the observation of children playing. The two poles of these stimuli that form a part of the iconosphere into which we have descended, even if we do not always realise it, with their aggressive, disturbing images of a story that is almost unbearably tragic, come to meet and to overlay each other ad infinitum in their various superimpositions, brought to light by a process that is partly guided and partly derived from the singular arrangement of colour in the particular plate. The chromatic tones help to make each of the solutions proposed more intensely dramatic or more restful, as the spectrum of possible juxtapositions and spacings can be endlessly multiplied. It may be easy to identify, in the Osymbolic figure of the 'Pietà', exemplified by the best-known of Michelangelo¹s marble compositions dedicated to this theme, a possible résumé, or balance, between the evil of the tragedy and the redemption of love, in that meeting of affections which may, among the possible superficial interpretations of the theme, be only external; or else, in the reassessment of a work in the series OWomen of Allah', produced by Shirin Neshat a few years ago, one of the models to grasp the meaning of the present , in that relationship between Arab or Islamic culture, the allusion to violence and the hidden dimension of the female. Beyond these all too explicit references, the point where the amount of story used by the artist comes closest to models of contemporary art is perhaps in the play of apparently chance connections to be found in the assemblage of personal and private images created by Robert Rauschenberg, where similarities of treatment lead to the superimposition of colours used to mask or to reveal the original visual suggestions, arranged on a fabric that is justified through the areas of shadow and light, revelation and concealing. What Greppi realises, is perhaps, once again, an attempt to resort to the unconscious or oblivious dimensions of representation, following those impenetrable paths that psychoanalysis and human sciences have tried to understand, though in the end they are forced to admit that the interpretation is never final. These images, the images that pass over us, are fundamentally of the same substance as dreams , until we succeed in grasping hold of them, making them real, or Oredeeming¹ theme. The danger might be that of finding ourselves, like the protagonists of Wim Wenders' film, 'Till the End of the World', enchanted as we gaze, in a sophisticated instrument, at the fragments and the confused colours of dreams that came during sleep, in the wake of the visions that these works by Greppi evoke, without thinking that the imagination and the ability of those manipulators of images who are painters, graphic designers and artists in general can make them become something other than their reality, and transport them to a plane which no longer requires any explanation or interpretation.