Manifestation of joy. The artist and his workshop on display

Manifestation of Joy is ultimately a choral representation, prepared and staged, wide and luminous, in a space that is a spotlight, at the Officine Garibaldi.
Eloquent gestures, postures, actions, immersions, and excitement are all evident in the empathic manifestations of painting in a situation in which free participation liberates a playful sense of community work.

In the cultural center at the Officine - opened a few months ago in Pisa and already a key player in the city’s cultural happenings, Giovanni Greppi, an artist from Volterra, has displayed his works in an unusual way, as if they were scattered all over the studio rather than strategically placed on the walls. With paintings and engravings he has revealed himself, and more so, in showing himself as a painter carrying out his usual creative work as a performer. For nine days, after suspending the working solitude of the studio, Giovanni spent his day working away from it, in a studio located in a space full of visitors and people getting together, artfully set up as a theater.

Therefore, a painter in action in the presence of the public of occasional spectators intrigued by the unusual exhibition and observing the methods of using materials and tools of the strange science of painting, like we were once unobtrusively peeking through the canvas behind the painters en plein air. However, in this theater of painting there have been more involved and directly interested spectators; the common people who were most sensitive to creative enthusiasm, and, stimulated by work in progress, felt the neet to participate, to be part of the game.
To these potential "characters in search of an author", we would say with Pirandello, and the visionary dramaturgy that was developing into painting, they have been asked to get into the spotlight, to intervene as actors in one or more moments of the representation of painting in its making.

Induced because it is nice to put on paper or on canvas a sign, a colour, a shape, or an illustration from their own imagination, those temporary supporting actors have impressed the pulsation and the breathe of the collective creation to the "workshop on display" operation. Operation in which Greppi had first of all meant for his own, intimate need to experiment and be a means of participation and sharing of the creative process, which for him is a manifestation of the joy of living, at least as a tension, in harmony with the totality of being in nature. A harmony that is based on communication between the diversity and the sharing of common objectives, conditions that are so often disregarded by men clinging to their "particular". Now as always.
As an ideal tension to that harmony that would be, if achieved, the foundation of happiness and therefore utopia, we can certainly read the proposal to create a large canvas with which to bring together and create interactions of different creative individuals ((precedence to disabled and elderly people, professional artists allowed, but all equally, says Greppi). Everyone committed to spontaneously bring and "wall up", to put it in a metaphor, a brick - a sign, a colour, a shape, a figure - of the house that builds visual memory, which welcomes them and assembles them and makes resonant the creative contributions deposited by the temporary inhabitants of the building site.

A large canvas, then, and thousands of shapeless signs, germinal morphemes, abbreviated iconograms, larval figures, a constellation of interventions carried by mostly impulsive gestures and I would say primary, scarcely and rarely governed by the forming ratio or respect of some linguistic norm. Thus planning the freedom, in the proposal, to invade and mark the chosen portion of the field without fearing any overflow in the field occupied by others. A very animated pictorial score has emerged; I would say an immense oblong graffiti similar to the recording of a collective psychic flow, vibrant with intense colours, electrified signs, fringed material nuclei, faces and figural shapes shaken in the general stirring of a texture composed in the arbitrary succession of interventions. Perhaps one intervention suggested others, by aggregation, permeation, and overlapping of the deposits of matter and colour.

It can be said that the stratification and the different, residual visibility or even the total disappearance of the individual interventions make up a sort of palimpsest, a documentary collection of indecipherable submerged stories. From here, traces emerge, fragments that are, anyway, witnesses of individual creative presences, whose voices contribute to the orchestration of a frenetic polyphony of acute and dissonant notes emerging in the magmatic background of the submerged notes, however resonant, at the bottom of the layers. Now I like to remember that Giovanni Greppi has mostly looked deeper, rather than on the surface when, as a painter, he has met the real. I mean the different aspects of nature as human situations. Palimpsests are then in large part his engravings with several plates, each of which deposits its figurative form on that plate that has been previously accepted by the sheet. Each plate then adds and removes something from the previous one, helping to determine the ambiguity and polysemy of the final image, which always refers, as in a testimonial palimpsest, to a critical emergency of the human being who is suffering from the devastating effects of the discordant vision of being in life and in history.

It could be a coincidence, but in the operation "workshop on display" designed by Greppi to emphasize his vision of art as a place for meeting and sharing, and acknowledging equal dignity of each and every different creative personality - the collective realization, in full freedom of intervention and as "shared creation", of an   artwork that reflects all the individualities, produced a painting that could be recognized as an autograph of our artist, whose intervention was limited to a summary final fitting of the great paratactical composition grown through the arbitrary interventions that followed.

Nicola Micieli