Christian Carlini was born in Rome in 1981. He found in the hyper-realistic painting the most appropriate expression of his creative nature.
A sophisticated and profound artistic personality who associates a component artisan craft of the highest quality to a research for meaning within and beyond the material, such as to spill over into religious meditation and existential reflection. The first charm that the observer of a painting by Carlini undergoes, springs from the technical-material aspect.
In an era obsessively virtual, that has accustomed us to live even human relationships according to the modality liquid of the web, ones remain hypnotized when you are facing an artistic work capable to declare, indeed, to shout, his primordial nature of “artifact”, an object produced “by rule of art “on the basis of a scrupulous knowledge of the materials and masterly mastering one particularly hard-working executive technique, which requires very long times, boundless patience, total concentration and manual precision surgery.
And it must be Carlini himself to reveals us passages of his proceeding, ,since after his accomplishment, the perfect pictorial rendering – that many illustrious experts mocked, deceiving them that they were in front of a photograph – nothing reveals or betrays the immense brush work done. On the very fine-grain mixed fabric he lays in three hands – every time interspersed with a chart shaving – of an acrylic preparation based on white titanium, in association with enamels for textile use. The result of this first preparatory phase is a very smooth surface, particularly suitable for bringing out the points of light. Once the drawing was executed in graphite the artist proceeds with the painting of the volumes,using alkyd colors, passing then to the most important pictorial drawing executed with very high quality oil colors, to exalt to the maximum lights and shadows.
We proceed with some chromatic veiling steps to calibrate vividness and saturation. It ends with two hands of final paint. If we were forced to catalog Carlini’s paintings by genre, we should define them “still life”. The objects that inhabit his canvases are all easily recognizable. If considered individually, they belong to our everyday life: roses and orchids, confetti, sweets, glasses, vases and other transparent glass containers.
But the reassuring familiarity of these objects of common use is immediately cracked and converted into a subtle restlessness of syntax, that is, by the mode of juxtaposition of these individual elements together, like the blue rose bud held in the belly of a man inverted glass goblet, or the red rose bud resting precariously on the bottom of what remains of a shattered glass.
To increase in the observer the suspicion that the painting does not want simply “representing what you see”, increasing the sense of anxiety and almost the waiting for one revelation, space arrives.
In Carlini’s paintings, the space is neither limited nor measurable, indeed, tends to continue outside the canvas, in the real physical space of the observer but above in his eyes and in his mind; it is an empty space, not described through furnishing components but inhabited and therefore created as a consequence of the relationship between those few objects that are the protagonists of the work.
It’s a space made of light, declined in such a way as to provide the observer with useful clues and walk it towards understanding of the iconological meaning of the work.
A light that emphasizes or, for absence, obscures some details rather than others, thus becoming pictorial materialization of the human mind which it reflects and meditates on those objects and on the message they hold. To throw definitively the observer in the panic of disorientation is, finally, the title of the work, totally detached from the iconographic subject represented, the more striking and unsettling the more realistic and almost photographic is the pictorial rendering of the objects represented.
Titles that declare the profound religiosity of the artist, in a measure in which they often evoke biblical episodes, both old and new testamentary. And here therefore an orchid with palm-shaped leaves in a broken glass becomes “The palm scourge“, clear reference to the Passion of Christ.
Or the roses floating in the water of a very high glass goblet, with a single red petal lying on the supporting surface, are “The ark” of the Old Testament universal flood.
The expedient of attributing to a work a title that does not reflect the subject represented,indeed, detached and disorienting with respect to it, it was adopted by some of the most transgressive historical avant-gardes of the early twentieth century: Dada, Metaphysics, Surrealism.
When the making of art moved provocatively its center of gravity from the artisan component to the intellectual one, when what transforms an artifact into a work of art was all concentrated on the iconological sphere of meanings, the title became a primary creative agent. Duchamp’s urinal is not even an artifact, it is a object of common use, “chosen” and subtracted from its function: but it was the title “Fontana” that transformed it into a artwork. Those painted by De Chirico are just two mannequins side by side, but the title transformed them into two epic characters of “Ettore and Andromaca”.
And a hyper-realistic pipe that Magritte clarified in writing that it was not a pipe, it’s certainly not the first image that we would associate with a title like “The use of the word”. Thus, by making an analogous discrepancy between signifier and meaning, between common objects represented with an almost photographic definition and their title, Carlini forces the observer to look for messages that they go beyond the physical and phenomenal reality of what they see, though so tangible, concrete and true.
It’s the implicit operation in the art of metaphysics, which investigates the intimate essence of reality beyond sensible experience. And just as in many of De Chirico’s works, in Carlini’s paintings a cosmic silence seems to reign, where mute presences in a suspended time conceal an enigma: the observer is asked to reveal it. Hyper-realist in the executive technique, Flemish in the typological choice of subjects, metaphysical in the investigation of meanings, Carlini is ultimately an artist difficult to place in clear and reassuring meshes classificatory.
And perhaps this is precisely the ultimate goal of his works: to capture the observer with the spell of the pictorial technique, inducing him to ask himself if those familiar objects are painted or photographed, to then force him – through the doubt instilled by the relational nonsense between iconographic subject and title – to reflect and meditate on human existence, on moral and spiritual issues. So, for example, “The Ark” on which Noah embarked men and animals to save them from the waters that would purify creation from evil and sin, it is also the cup in which each individual keeps the vital and beneficial flowers of his own existence, leaving what is mortifying to lie on the ground. A painting, therefore, as fascinating as it is full of meanings, which calls into question the observer not as a spectator but as a protagonist.
Cinzia Mastroianni Art Historian – Art Critic
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