DUCA Catalog 2014

Presentation By professor Francesco Federico Mancini

Meeting Alvaro Breccolotti ("Duca", as he is known) in his working environment is an experience that leaves its mark on someone who, like me, has a daily relationship with art. Cristina Galassi, the author of the essay that provides an in-depth introduction to understanding Alvaro's art, is right when she speaks of an operational dimension resembling that of a Benedectine scriptorium: Alvaro is the monk, the copiyst, or rather the illuminator, who consummates his pictorial rite in solitude, far from the alienating frenzy of social life. To define Alvaro as a sort of modern "Nazarene", a sort of art mystic who chooses isolation, the quiet of the woods and being surrounded by nature to produce his works, themselves pieces of nature, is the most appropriate thing you could write about him. Coherently, his method of working does not admit shortcuts. For him, art is a laborious exercise. It is a way to recount the depth of his feelings through an astonishing, almost obsessive search for perfection. You have to know Alvaro well, to have been with him, to have entered his world, in order to understand his dissatisfaction when faced with artistic results which are to all appearances more than successful. In his eyes nothing, still less his art, which is the mirror of a rich, sensitive spirituality in continual evolution, appears finished, complete or definitive. Yet his artworks, refined exercises in virtuoso mastery, transmit a sense of controlled, in many ways complete, harmony of poetic values. Tirelessly reaching out in its quest for ideal beauty, Alvaro's brush tries to capture the objective magic of natural things beyond the skin-deep; it enters into the essence of the objects, digs down to extract the soul from inanimate realities, to transform into living, intensely-involving nature baskets of lemons and cherries, bundles of onions and garlic, freshly-sliced mushrooms that bring with them the smell of the woods, of the earth, of musk and damp autumn leaves. It is not easy to resuscitate things or objects which have lost his life. It is not easy to transform the fragility of a vanitas into a statement of everlasting, incorruptible beauty. If Alvaro succeeds, it is because he knows how to capture the light contained in any body. His alchemist-like ability to extract the light from inside things explains why, even in the half-light, his objects continue to shine, to give off an amazing, intense glow - a glow which, as Alvaro demonstrates by raising and lowering the shutters in his studio, in inversely proportional to the amount of light that enters the room. His "still life" artworks, instead of being metaphors for life passing on, time passing by or the perishable nature of matter are rather symbolic illustrations of the indestructibility of beauty. They are confirmation, not negation, of an indisputable, absolute right - that which Francis of Assisi confirms with the force of his poetic sentiment in the famous "Canticle of the Sun", where a united world without hierarchies provides space and opportunity for the whole of creation: where even the most humble, at the same level of things, exude a star-like, irrepressible luminosity.