FABIO CARAPEZZA GUTTUSO
Who are Arrigo’s anonymous people?
“The faces strongly outlined by Arrigo, with powerful volumetry and tormented colour, know how to express the beauty of that humanity that western man considers different and, at the same time, the risk to which it is condemned, the impendency or imminence of the deep slashes that the calamities of the world engrave on it like marks of fire.”
Thus Maurizio Calvesi describes the relationship between form and substance in Arrigo’s works.
If we then blend this critical intuition with the “authentic interpretation” of the author – “I believe that beauty is not only in people or things but in any attempt to safeguard them” – we can affirm that the work is in perfect osmosis with the artist. Thus beauty is life in all its expressions, but also more fleetingly in a gesture, a caress, an action defending it. Then, in the epoch of images and material beauty, it also seems to relive in the immateriality of a gesture. Was Mother Teresa perhaps not more beautiful than Marilyn Monroe? Marilyn would belong, according to this vision of Arrigo’s, ancient and new at one and the same time, to a world lacerated by individualism that has led the individual to react by reconstructing himself as an integral part of a single sympathetic humanity. Thus in Arrigo’s works Calvesi’s proposition seems to be concretized: “art … does not progress or evolve but is only transformed in the contents and in the forms and always travels on the vices and virtues of its own epoch, serving as its track.”
The epoch in which we live would impose on us not one but endless metamorphoses, but from the earth, which has given birth to the proclaimed immobilism, an ancient painting originates that, in truth, proves new – one in which the feeling of solidarity emerges with a character of novelty.
Arrigo has dealt, almost since the beginning, with the “anonymous” people to whom he wants to give a face, but, as the artist has written, not out of mere solidarity or denunciation but rather out of egoism: “I would like to be a neutral medium between the horror and the violence … and what I return to the outside on the canvas, without having metabolized it.”
It seems like egoism contradicting the premises.
But it is not so.
He fixes on the canvas the faces “pierced through by the marks of fire” of suffering to return to reflecting and so as not to escape from irritation at the conscious vision of them.
He seems to want to say that the ruin of violence and egoism can be photographed and, even, avoided.
If one does not run away, distracted, if the sum of individuals does not see it, the historical appeal is round the corner. And history will catch us unprepared.
Present-day society is tired of its own models and so it could – the artist seems to want to indicate with his personal example – restore to the anonymous people, the delicate task, in truth an unwanted one, of creating a new civilization where the season of the escape from thought (above all if it is painful) could finally wane.
It is not the extolment of violence in the recent history of art, also abhorred by Jean Claire in “The winter of culture”, but a total revolt against it. Arrigo seems not to apply Adam Smith’s formula in economy: “If each looks after his own selfish interest the economy (and society) as a whole will benefit.”
Even the recent economic crisis was born of that illusion.
Arrigo paints what he sees and feels, above all from the media, which alternate futility and tragedies.
Augusta Monferini writes about him:
“After Bacon, who staged the deformed torment of the human mind, Arrigo tries to trace out a line of demarcation between humanity still worthy of this name and humanity not worthy of it.
Arrigo’s line, magmatic and chaotic, is recomposed in the image that illuminates the anonymous people that have risen again from driving rain that assuages their suffering and reduces their corruption.
But with an inverted scale of values, in comparison to the dominant cynicism, the nameless demand the close-up, a peculiar characteristic of his works, as if to want to display the beauty of their scars to remain for a longer time in the fire of our consciences.”