Articles and Reviews

THIS IS NOW. A Geographical Guide to Cutting-edge Contemporary Art

SO MANY DETAIL TO SEE, IF WE LINGER AND TAKE THE TIME TO LOOK: MANFREDI BENINATI

It is so difficult today to be a figurative artist and to be bold enough to pick up a paintbrush, stand before a canvas and try to paint something original, with more than 2000 years of art history, populated by unequalled masters and geniuses, behind us. Let us be clear: it is difficult, if one is conscious of the weight of the past. There are tens of thousands of painters who, without a second thought, paind portraits, landscapes and still life every single day. But if they are intelligent and sensitive they cannot fail to feel the weight and the responsibility to avoid falling into the obvious. The Italian artist, Manfredi Beninati, never falls into the obvious, even though he is essentially a figurative painter using such traditional techniques as oils.

My impression when I first saw this huge untitled painting was that I was faced with a huge negative photograph of an image in which the colours were reversed. I have no idea why, and perhaps there is no specific reason for it. But the huge white area of the canvas immediately looked, to my mind, like the negative impression of the night sky. And in this sky, whether by night or by day, the situation does not change, the coloured signs look like exploding fireworks. It is a sky criss-crossed by many small aircrafts, one of which on the left is nose-diving, with its engine in flames.

There are so many details to see, if we linger and take the time to look. Upon first looking at it, we may not have noticed the little birds balancing on fine twigs, for example. But the detail that attracts the most attention is certainly the Italian flag, upper right, in a part of the canvas that is not occupied by any other visual elements. despite the sort of whirlwind affecting the center part of the picture, the flag is unmoved by the wind, as if looking on calmly from its position on high, viewing everything that is happening beneath it. Perhaps it is through this contrast that we manage to understand and interpret this work, which is cryptically and deliberately left without a title. Values lie above the vapour trails left by the aircraft, the birds, the flowers and the fireworks. It is these latter elements that fill our lives and make life cheerful, varied and multi-coloured. But the sky above us would be empty without the unchanging value to which to refer.

The artist himself in an interview talked about the importance and his passion for details and fragments in his works: “In my art it is true that there are always lots of fragments that, if you want, you can piece together following your own sense of narrative and make up your own story, your own film, if you prefer. This is more evident in my installations, which are always conceived as if they were film stills in three dimensions, depicting a moment when all human characters have left the scene, and you can decide what’s happened a second before and what will happen a second after you have left”.

Giorgio Guglielmino

From the book “This is Now. A Geographical Guide to Cutting-Edge Contemporary Art” by Giorgio Guglielmino (Umberto Allemandi & C., 2013, ISBN 8842222658)

Copyright © 2013 Giorgio Guglielmino / Umberto Allemandi & C.