Painting Music and Time. Alessandro Marrone's First American Exhibition
A cubist Hermes is hovering above a score piece; in the background a puzzling, oneiric red composition; a violin emerges from an entanglement of notes and geometrical shapes; a couple dances the tango in front of an over sized bluish piano keyboard.
No, we are not watching a new visionary Broadway show, but the American debut of Arezzo-based artist Alessandro Marrone, held at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute on the evening of November 9.
During the event, we had the opportunity of interviewing the artist and learn a bit more about his life and work.
He has been interested in the arts since he was 13 years old. This passion led him to work with jewelers and goldsmiths as a prototype designer. However this work didn’t truly fulfill his thirst for an artistic occupation, so he decided to open an art school in Arezzo that has now reached forty students.
His original vocation was toward sculpture, however he subsequently worked on canvases as well, with the intent of “bringing the feeling of sculpture into painting”. This is apparent in some of his works, such as Vibrazioni (Vibrations), which is truly a crossbreed between a painting, a bas-relief and a sculpture.
His consecration as mainstream artist arrived in 2007, when the city of Arezzo asked him to create a monument in memory of the Carabinieri who fell during the terrorist attack in Nassiriya.
The idea for this exhibition came this summer: his friends Vincenzo Marra, President of the Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance (ILICA – sponsor of the event at Calandra) and fellow artist Greg Wyatt, from New York, visited him during a show held in Arezzo and noticed how some of his works revolved around music.
Knowing that pianist Cristiana Pegoraro would take part in an ILICA event the following fall, they proposed him to organize an exhibition in the City at the same time.
The show had another, subtler theme next to the obvious musical one: how a work of art modifies your perception of time (la temporalità dell’opera).
Marrone explained to us how his intent is for us to lose the perception of time while we contemplate his work. This is a dialogue between the artist and the spectator, with the painting as medium. The result is dependent on the observer: the artist simply gives the spectator an input, but the experience is different according to the psychology of who is observing the painting.
The exhibition featured over a dozen paintings, and Marrone himself held a conference during which he explained the concepts behind his art to the many guests. An exquisite buffet featuring Italian specialties quenched the hunger and thirst of the parterre intent on enjoying the paintings. Considering that a sale was made not a quarter of an hour after the opening of the event, we can safely say that New York is very appreciative of this Italian talent.
Marrone, however, is not resting on his laurels: he is working to fulfill his wish of moving on to a more international scene, maybe even come and paint in New York because, according to him “in the United States there is a different kind of freedom: in Italy it is difficult to find room [for independent artists]. There are many situations that create limitations, and meritocracy is often not as clear as one would wish. When those at the Department of Arts and Culture work as painters as well, we could say that a conflict of interest arises. I work a lot with the private compartment; also the monument to the fallen Carabinieri was commissioned by the private sector, even though of course I have the support of the administration. I try to put together the private and public sectors.”
It would seem that even for the arts, as for many other fields, meritocracy in the Italian public compartment works in mysterious ways.