Still Lives in Equilibrium over Time

by Alessandro Riva


There is a habit in the recent history of art, to consider artists solely on the grounds of their scholling, associated movement and groups of trends.

This inevitable habit comes from the century we have just turned our back on, noted far it’s rips, lacerations and successive parricides.

Now that the 1900’s have passed, this views of art is slowly, and with, great effort coming to the end of its’ rape. As a result, it becomes easy to look past the conformist view that obligates us to evaluate an artist solely based on the degree of novelty in their work as it compares to those who carne before.

Naturally, this does not mean that an artist should not be measured with the times: simply the contemporariness of his work (ugly words with which we are however forced to settle with every day to not be considered fatally out-of-date) will return as a natural parameter, obviously implicit in the end, distinguishing the quality of the real artist from the craftsman and no more boatsfully expressed like medals pinned to the collar of a jacket.

Gianluca Corona is one of these artists that has chosen his own original path that places him outside the art system as it is traditionally conceived. A path which leads him to work rarely with private galleries and to not exhibit work for the sole purpose of selling paintings, which means to not take part in a process which today constitutes almost a social obligation for the artist.

Corona works on his own, in direct contact with the future owner of the painting, rationalizing between the needs of the painting and those of the purchaser. His job is a solitary one, a road apparently atypical and isolated, but in reality is not rare to find parallels with other artists here ad there (which in fact has happened to me) to find ad artist that work in the same way (yet with a different approach, style and technique) in Brooklyn like in Manhattan or in Paris.

At the same time, it is impossible to define this as a school or movement in and of itself. These artists are rather the exception, the crack in the system fatally regimented and with a strong tendency to be level and homogenous.

Corona’s attitude creates a diversity within the actual system of art, and he choose to be like this. His choice is a radical choice, fully aware and meditated, event if in some way obligated: everybody choose what they want to be, no more, no less.

Corona works in the two parallel fields of still life and portraits (to which he has recently added a third, even if it is still in the embryonic state: that of female nudes). In both genres, Corona takes an anti-cenceptual position: he does not have the studied similarity with antiquity to which many have retuned to in past decades; there isn’t, in short, the imitation of the classical, the completely intelleclual mimicry of procedures, techniques and subjects ostenatiously classical and antique that has marked the season of the Anarchronism, the hyper-Mannerism and cultured painting.

There is instead a return of classic techniques being, grafted to a contemporary sensibility. For both portrait and still life.

Corona still considers, for example, the mutating sensibility towards the image, that has been disseminated in this century thanks also to the photography.

The artist cannibalises the “modern” techniques, above all, those photographic, to change the look of contemporariness. The still life works of Corona are at the same time deeply contemporary in their sensibility, demeanor, viewpoint and lighting, while fundamentally classic in their composition and techique.

The preparation of the work surface, the use of light and shade, the glazing techniques, composition and even the drawings of Corona are those from the best tradition of the 1400’s and 1500’s, but the light, composition and the atmosphere that you breath in the paintings come from the altered look offered by the 1600’s onward.

In the still life of an artist, there is never the will to move the argument towards one or the other temporal plane: there are no objects that are intentionally modern or middle-class, not are there objects “marked” by a pop matrix or the everyday domestic life of the lower middle-class kitchen or living room of today (like instead we would be inclined to expect), just like on the other hand, it is not attempted to “backdate” the subject in the painting with tricks which would displace the temporality into an undefined classic period.

The challenge of Corona appears precisely that of which to remain miraculously balanced on a sharp edge, situated in contemporariness where it is impossible to catch an external glance, and a classicism of method more than style or subject matter. There are no cosmetic tricks or evasive tactics to make a work appear like it belongs from another time rather than making it state openly and loudly that it carne from this time, our time.

The magic, the silent mystery of the coronian still life is precisely situated in this subtle and uncertain equilibrium, in his capacity to avoid, or not fall victim to the calling of simple-mindedness (tending towards kitsch) to the many talented craftsmen fatally attracted to the most obvious contemporary symbols.

It would be easy in the end far the artist to put a can of Coca Cola in a basket of fruit to loudly declare a belonging to this world, but Corona prefers to play with the past and present like a cat with a mouse, he prefer to stupefy us with that atmosphere which doesn’t appear completely from another era not decidedly from that of today. Hi is, like all still life works of art, the metaphor of a human condition, that of a human race forced to live in uncertain times, with the existential feeling of not recognizing himself in this world, in its vulgarity and stupidity, in its attraction far the ugly and mediocre, and yet he doesn’t want to close himself in an ivory tower from an improbable golden age.

It is not by chance then that Gianluca Corona decided to work with the dual path of still life and portraits: because through these two types, especially seen in the 1600’s forwards, the idea of social and individual identity is redefined. The identity of man is the identity of existence itself.

In this, Corona appears more than aware of the decision to compose still life together classic and contemporary, putting into discussion the use of codes and current languages yet at the same time refusing to make itself antique by definition. He has made, paradoxically a choice more r4dical than if he would have chose to work with typical contemporary themes and techniques.

A choice that will not be easy forgiven, but one which that live on the sharp edge that separates the acceptance of the present from the systematic criticism of the radical, can do nothing else but thank him and support him as much as possible.