Painting as liturgy


‘A story from the 16th century recounts how a king sent his only son far away, for fear for impending dangers and possible political upheavals. After years of hard absence the son received a letter from his king-father. The news about his parent, far from making the prince-son happy, threw him in a state of anguish and depression: the letter was the sign of the love of the father for his son but it also confirmed, without any hope for a nearer time, their separation. Those were days of anguish and pain. But one day the son regained his hope and joy because he realised that, although he did not live close to his father, the presence of his parent was close to him through that letter, which was the sign of his existence and a witness of his love. It is always like this, for everybody, when we live an awaiting and dreams become timeless. “Years as short as days” have flown past, and Luigi Montanarini is “like an hourglass which has gradually emptied”, and has always been faithful to painting, which has been for him a destiny of obedience, a project of loyalty and obstinate research. Leaving the kingdom of art empty-handed, he has always kept the letter-sign, witness of the Kingdom: painting. For Montanarini, painting has always been a sign of the Kingdom, the place where he could express the liturgical ritual of his theological restlessness, of his questioning his own Christian faith, that is his existence in the world through the call of faith (and the fragments and the observations published in this book are an explicit witness of this). In mourning for being far away from the reign of vision, from a “face to face” with the Father, Montanarini consecrates, through his painting, his existence as belonging to that reign and as faithfulness to the tension of desiring the origin of that mystery, which is Faith. The reflection upon faith also passes through loyalty to painting, and not only through biblical exegesis or theological interpretation. In this way, painting is the place for salvation or for perdition. With the aid of painting – this is the witness of the work of Luigi Montanarini – one can build his presence in the world as ineluctible destiny for searching faith in the dark, and the salvation project to which the world has been called. A chant means filling up a jug, or, better, breaking the jug. Breaking it to pieces. We could call it Broken Vases. Painting too, can happen to be a broken vase, where in each fragment hides the longing for the search and rests (huddling up) a little bit of faith. Painting is not only called in the world to be science, method of the rigour of reason to build the accuracy of poetical intuitions; it is also a wound which expresses the anxiety of man for being the revelation of the consciousness. This is why the work by Montanarini is never the science of colour, but conscience of colour. This is maybe why the sign is always absent from his work: Montanarini is the painter of matter (of colour and light) and not of the sign. And because his painting is the conscience of colour, it cannot but be tragic (epressionismo del proto-novecento e l’espressionismo astratto america-no), and luminous at the same time (fau-vism and other), full of the certainty of faith and of the darkness of searching without understanding. His painting is full of unbalances and contradictions, it swings up and down as the diagram of the adventure of the man called to be in the world without belonging the world. It is a painting where comprehension does not occur, but it is instead crossed and wounded by hints of revelation; this is why existence is seen not as the sign of the Father, but of the absence-loss of the Father and of the distance from the Reign, which reveils itself here as «in aenigmate et per speculum». Carmine Benincasa’


21 Agosto 1982 - 29 Agosto 1982


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions