Memory and nostalgia

di Alessandro Riva

Carlo Cola’s painting is surprisingly contemporary. Its poetic and visual core lies wholly in the desired, conscious and radical distancing from the stimulus of the languages and forms of art history – particularly those of recent decades, from media reality to photography, to the fiction of cinema and television. In actual fact, Carlo Cola uses a technique that at first sight does not seem to refer to any of the historic movements and art practices that originated with the artistic avant-garde in the second half of the 20th century, either in terms of language or in terms of inspiration and content. His work moves, with amazing lightness of colour and sign, on a line that is completely autonomous and solitary, quite different from the work of fellow painters , contemporaries and that of previous generations of Italian artists. The line is that of a revival of rapid and gestural painting. The latter, on the one hand revives a certain nabis intimacy – which has all but completely disappeared from the contemporary scene as if it were politically incorrect to re-propose scenes of bourgeois intimacy and the solitary and domestic habits of everyday life. On the other hand, it re-establishes the use of strong and flowing lines and, in the pleasure it derives from depicting an extraordinary sense of lightness and liberty, it is vaguely reminiscent of Matisse. At the same time there are hints of expressionistic thought through its thick robust qualities and use of vivid , contrasting colours.

Carlo Cola’s work is, all things considered, a complicated visual and intellectual puzzle, a game of references and quotations. Perhaps, more precisely, it is a game of hide and seek with the memory of painting, with its more important protagonists and points of references . These connections, however, always possess a lightness of touch, both intimate and poetic, as if in quoting the Great Masters – from Picasso to Matisse – one needs to traverse secret and silent pathways, across domestic details or fleeting signs of colour and composition. Cola’s world is of a completely internal kind, strongly anti-naturalistic, one that speaks directly to us about our readings, our passions and our loves – in short of all aspects of our personal life – through re-inventing a lost world which never strays into nostalgia and melancholy, that does not use sentimentalised language but favours a direct and terse lyricism, a natural and simple lightness of things that belongs to us and to our culture, to our past but also to our present.

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