Giacinto Di Pietrantonio
In the Zen culture of the East, empty has a value and white is associated with death, while for us in the West it is the other way round. In different parts of the world, white and black, like empty and full, have opposite meanings. We in the West are bent on filling up with everything, and on filling the empty. Easterners by contrast seek primarily to empty out, and to empty the full. Empty is a positive attribute, because it is not the nothing of nihilism, but the whole of the potential for creation. The white chosen by Marini conveys this to us and tells us that what torments a painter is to define himself through a color. To give a name to a color, even when this is a “non-color”, is the challenge of painting. Titian did it with red (there is a shade of red called Titian); Veronese did it with green (there is a variation of viridian green called Paolo Veronese green); and it is no coincidence that Titian and Veronese were both from Veneto, as indeed is Lorenzo Marini. Unsurprising, indeed, that here we have two Veneto painters (three, including Marini), because traditionally, Veneto’s is the art that seeks the most to express itself through color (probably because of the influence of Venice) while the forte of the Florentine school is drawing, and the forms of Leonardo and Michelangelo. We do not think of these Renaissance titans in terms of color; there is no color that brings them to mind, and instead there is a sign, a drawing. Raphael, who was from Urbino in central Italy, is also identified with drawing even though he is remembered for color in movement, in the complexions of the faces of his paintings of the Madonna. And Picasso of the blue and rose periods, when defining himself spoke not of painting but drawing, saying that as a child he could draw like Raphael but that it had taken him a lifetime to forget that and draw like Picasso. This kind of statement might actually be a legend, as in Vasari’s Lives, but it shows that these are stories put about which tell us the quality of the art created by acknowledging its tradition. This is probably another reason why the Veneto artist Lorenzo Marini seeks to affirm his painting by working principally on color, utilizing “the colorless, all-color atheism”. Now let us examine how Lorenzo Marini uses his white, or more correctly his whites, since he tells us that he likes to use anything that is white: tempera, acrylic, putty, salt, chalk, mother-of-pearl, paper, and so on; materials colored with different whites. Finding diversity in unity seems to be another of his traits, not only in the various different types of material and of white color that he uses, but also because, like the angels that make the snow fall, he spreads the white on the canvas not, as most artists do, in order to create the background on which to paint, but as a surface to cover the underground river of meanings. From his white paintings emerge signs, traces of color, schemes, grids and more besides, all of which relate to his art, or arts.
In pop art everything is up front, everything is a form of visual readymade, of images found and repainted in various ways. For Marini, painting hides rather than reveals. What concerns Marini is how much distance he can put between the white canvas and the purpose of the painting, or between the blank page and the purpose of the text. His appears to be a work in progress, an unfinished work; a concept that, although invented by Michelangelo, has only taken hold in modern art, becoming the retelling of an era. It is an instinct that has always led him to cultivate his painting, although he has never sought to exhibit his paintings. It is in recognition of this continuity that here we are showing 15 years of his painting. Painting and drawing, actually; Marini has always practiced both forms of expression and, as we will see below, in a painting by Marini there are always traces of drawing . This is a trait that originated in his studies of architecture and the fine arts, which he studied in Venice with Emilio Vedova, just to keep things informal (or Informale) . What Marini learned in Venice seems to emerge recently in the works Spacevisual 2011, Spacevisual 13, 2013, or Brandvisual 1, 2014, in Los Angeles and New York. As we noted earlier, this shows the direct, or indirect, memory of Piero Manzoni’s Achromes, especially in the wrinkled white canvases. Marini’s paintings are neither abundant nor absolute in color , in that under the surface they contain a structure that is modular and serial in the modernist sense, and is therefore abstract. In this way the paintings end up constituting a form of catalog of possible ideal forms, structures and spaces. They are a search for totality and the absolute that clarifies the obsessive use of white, as in the Annunci (“announcements” or “classified ads”) series, in which the surface of the canvas appears divided like a sheet of newspaper, or an advertisement, while being neither one nor the other. A careful reading reveals a four-part structure, whose elements are the placements of the photograph, the illustration, the text, and the logo. It is a semantic grid in which the progressive erasure conducted by the white is the search for truth, because it removes the patent partisan utterances of the figurativeness of advertising, which never tells the truth. It is a manner of structuring the page, of dividing the space, which comes from the fact that Marini started out by drawing and publishing comics[iCR4] , and which perhaps also owes something to the spatial structure of Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, which he saw as a teenager. But here he is searching for a symbolization where nothing is stronger than everything, silence more communicative than noise, and empty fuller than full. So we see that Marini’s pictorial investigation does not only remove us from the cacophony of means of mass communication, but it also makes us think about global events and universal spaces.
A similar search for the ideal can be seen in the Constellations series, which is Marini’s attempt to give form and image to the universe, to that which is above us, again in space. In the end, we see that the works of Lorenzo Marini are new terrestrial and celestial landscapes. And so, since we began in the West, we can only finish in the East, where the Zen proverb tells us that: “The eye that sees everything cannot see itself.” Marini’s paintings, which never show everything, are works that launch us on a search for ourselves.