The truth of things

di Fabio Lazzari



Silvia Evangelisti’s text about the theatrical charm of Carlo Cola’s work is so exhaustive and clear that it discourages any further critical-interpretative analysis. Nonetheless, what can be noted from this, as well as from any other purely iconographic readings, is the relationship, which is often redundant or even misleading, between the epiphany of painting and what is hidden within the author’s personal history. This relationship between painter and painting seems to me useful in the case of Carlo Cola, in order to catch certain echoes that, out of affinity or contrast, complete the frame and the interwoven elements of the pictorial construction. I would like to add something else to this. Carlo Cola, who is strong enough to allow himself to look fragile, lives both “from” and “within” colours, following the unusual rhythms of an earthy and natural sensitivity. Even his house is for the artist a place where he can explore creativity, a real work in progress  in which objects, lights and walls acquire the sense of a huge painted surface.

Painting – the result of a sudden and unforeseeable emotional rush – is certainly the ideal tool to thoroughly satisfy the need to intervene in space with the exuberant vitality of pigments; it is an energetic, almost violent, way to unload a mass of sensations, full of images and photograms encountered by chance, stored in memory and then transformed onto sections of canvas by way of poetic elaboration, sumptuously  decorated with the fatness and sensuality of coloured paste. For Carlo Cola a colour is a symbol, and one that allows him to find exterior connections with the complexity of his interior universe. This is also the most natural language to give voice to a soul full of simplicity and depth, in which emotional impulses and passions are held back by a tendency to privacy, I would almost say  indolence.

In everyday life, this interior dialectic is softened by the natural will to relate, the contact (even physical) with people and the little universes of the village, the affective relationships, at school with his “pupils” where Carlo Cola experiments with the infinite potential of creativity fostered by a current of affection and intense physicality. But when this is viewed through the mysterious language of painting, communication gets stronger, more vehement, almost chaotic. Even the brush stroke states the explosive modality through which the mind perceives the discourse of painting; a gesture that is strong, firm and deep and which needs a surface capable of resisting the physical push of a need that overwhelms control. When the full vessel wants painting, canvases are fixed on planks that becomes the limit of the physical potential and accepts the liberating triumph of colour and gesture.

For days and nights shut in his study, the paintings become the only windows onto the world, the sole compensation to be offered to the privilege of an unusual sensitivity: to and fro, from the canvas to the sofa, to directly revel in the mystery of symbols transformed into objects, of a paintbrush that becomes light, of a mental image that becomes the world, dream, a journey through space and time. Without conceding anything to premeditation, the canvas is slightly stained by a thin trace of charcoal, then soon overwhelmed by the addition of disordered waves of colour, almost confused, waiting to find a balance in the finished work. And in the wonder of the landscapes  or in the secret atmosphere of the interiors, one often notices the absence of  figures, never perceived as something negative or  missing. This is maybe due to the feeling that in Carlo Cola’s works  there has been a presence  and that somehow this lingers: it is the author’s presence, who is the first to be fascinated and charmed by a bookshelf,  an artist’s study, the dark and imposing outline of a mountain.

In this way, without literary or rhetorical intentions, appearing as they are, objects (even the humblest ones) are transformed by the yellow light that encloses them, coming in from windows that never show what is beyond the boundaries of the painted room. A true and precious friend, Carlo Cola is a kind of man-child who can accept and convey the wonder of a pure emotion as simply as a flower opening to the sun’s rays and rain.

On the other hand, panting seldom becomes the object of a dialogue, as if out of fear that talking may be interpreted as a betrayal of what it has already been said and done through the architecture of forms and colours.

This is something to do with the difference in quality between being open and being reserved when the subject is painting, and even more when there is an attempt to violate the intimacy of inspiration and the creative act.

I often wondered about the reasons of this reserve and I had the hint of a possible answer in a fine booklet of poetic rules of the Chinese poet-soldier Lu-Ji who, referring to another expressive language, says: “[….] each writer discovers an entry way to the mystery, and it is a difficult thing to explain”.

Another beautiful passage by Lu-Ji reads:

“The darkness of the mind /remains hidden / thoughts must be brought to light / like an infant from the mother’s womb,/ screaming and terrified. To force emotions / is an error / that leads to mistakes / allowing them to arise / naturally / means to let them emerge with clarity./ The truth of the thing / is inside us, / but no power in the world can force it / to emerge. Always, /in this struggle, I probe my heart, / Sometimes a door slowly opens / other times the door / remains barred” ( NdT: my translation from the Italian version in Lu Ji, L’arte della scrittura, Guanda, Parma 2002)

This catalogue and the works in it are the signs of a door that has opened, letting out the truth of things that know how to enchant and astonish. For this, with an undying affection,  I thank Carlo Cola, friend and painter.