Carlo Levi. Pitture del confino e ritratti

Pizziolo, M 2006, Carlo Levi. Pitture del confino e ritratti, De Angelis, Avellino.

An extraordinary journey through the work of one of the finest intellectuals of the 20th century. Growing up in the effervescent climate of the Turin of the 1920s, Carlo Levi was able to be many things: physician, narrator, essayist, politician, painter. An opportunity to rediscover an artist who recognised in the world of the countryside “the black adolescence of centuries ready to come out and move.”

“Nobody would cross themselves now before the perfect anatomy of Mantegna’s The Dead Christ or Leonardo’s crepuscular Virgin of the Rocks. Not even a hasty genuflexion. Works that, although they were conceived as powerful instruments of worship, are now exclusively valid as aesthetic machines. The exact form of an ideality of which we intentionally censor the prime motive, downgrading it to a compositional pretext, to an aesthetic alibi. This makes us impotent to true, deep comprehension. Because it is always the mover, the motive, that assigns a precise value to any action and therefore to any product of our acts.

In the experimentation of the possibilities of painting that characterised the twentieth century, there are artists who did not paint solely to create a conceptual joke or to prepare a scenario of the beautiful. Artists who did not understand painting solely as memory of a non-premeditated gesture. Or exploration of the vertigo of the void. There are artists, and Carlo Levi is one of them, who gave form and colour to ideas. And these ideas were the sign of the silent yet mighty passage of men and women over time. They were cries and shouts, the heartbroken defence, the loud cry of those words that are destined to weigh heavy as stones on the heart of those who have never had a voice.

Without this necessary premise it would be difficult today to understand the meaning of Levi’s paintings, upon which there weighs that kind of ostracism of memory that has struck so much of the art of social commitment. Levi found redemption in giving voice to others. Between his early works and those of his maturity a long ideal journey has been travelled: from intellectuality to the materiality of forms. A journey that is the measure of a progressive plunge into a reality perceived as truth, as revelation of the mystery of life.”