The Voice of all Things Silent

and the portrayal of all things loved can be found in the works of Gianluca Corona

by Mario Marcarini



Heureux celui qui peut d’une aile vigoureuse
S’élancer vers les champs lumineux et sereins;
Celui dont les pensers, comme des alouettes,
Vers les cieux le matin prennent un libre essor;
Qui plane sur la vie, et comprend sans effort
Le langage des fleures et de choses muettes!
Charles Baudelaire, “Elevation”, Fleurs du mal, 1857



The perception of a “language of silent things”, an intuition Henri Beyle (Stendhal) applied to art critique as long ago as in the first two decades of the Nineteenth century, is the most evident sensory condition for those – connoisseurs, whether amateur or layman –  who for the first time are confronted by a Gianluca Corona painting.

The mind of the observer, stirred by the composition’s intensity, gratified by an exemplary pictorial technique (whose roots are deeply set in the age-old history of representation which, nevertheless, deeply breathes-in the air of our times), seduced by a masterly and measured use of color (with the chromatic range now gradually becoming markedly brighter as a result of the coherent path followed by this scrupulous artist), well, the mind perceives that, subjected to a strongly evocative symbolic code, Gianluca’s aesthetic and philosophic project conceals a recurring sub-text, an “openly concealed” but manifestly evident element, in other words the chemistry that binds the chromatic palette and the arrangement of the elements in the musically evoked spaces.

There is no need to know the Artist personally to be able to perceive his passion for that form of art that is music, a love nourished by hid daily fr4equenting of polyphony, from renaissance to baroque, from romantic Nineteenth century through to Wagner and more (proof of this are the titles of many of his plates, with melodramatic or symphonic hints); in the paintings around which our brief odyssey unfolds today, the presence of this aesthetic category tranquilly moves through the very ambiance that pervades the Maestro’s paintings.

Significant and densely packed with symbolism and mystery, alongside the object, fruits and flowers depicted, are the spaces reserved for “voids” (whether these be blank walls, prospectively inclined planes, panels or, yet again, highly imaginative wooden display cases that evoke the golden century of still life and of baroque vanitas, as in the case of “Inside”, a 2014 triptych or in the “Omaggio a Cotan”: these have the expressive power of a vibrating atmosphere which seems perfectly and harmoniously “tuned” to the rest of composition, becoming an integral part of the whole.

Yet once again – and with disturbing modernity – love for the antique stirs within Corona’s works, remembering Giorgio Morandi’s resounding era, at which the pallet of the Milanese painter seems to direct an ever increasing interest in the latter years.

Whatever is new and original that distinguishes Corona’s artistic path is, as already mentioned, the repetitive reference to music; this is the constant element that permeates two specular canvasses titled “Distanza” harmoniously filling the airy spaces, lighting them up with contrapuntal intigues that transform the “voids” that catch the eye into as many heart to touching “fulls”.

To undersand it completely, you would have to “turn down the volume” of everything around you, open your ears and feed the soul with a tablature of Kapsberger’s lute or a Sylvious Leopold Weiss Suite, whose contrapuntal geometries are mirrored in the candid spontaneity of the composition “Con zucca and susine”.

Let it be said that the definition of “composition” for Corona’s works does not usually take into consideration the final arrangement of the imaginary players on stage, but nor car we be satisfied by confining the analysis purely to the distribution, though well balanced and conscious, of the chromatic planes, with the relative “fulls” and “voids” (both resonant and consonant, as already mentioned).

Like a diligent and sensitive music composer, the Maestro knows how to devise paths that are very much more extensive and articulated than a single work (as in one of the much loved Sebastian Bach Suites, where even the unfolding of tonalities follows a logic, an aesthetic purpose, that could be seduction, or representing the passing of time, the approach of death, in a climax that leads to the conquest of a loved objective); this therefore is how the sequence, in which the “Suite” titled “Otto sfumature” (2013) is introduced, can be interpreted from a yet unseen viewpoint, not aimed solely at merely gratifying the eye with the scintillanting colours and in the representation’s virtuosity, but rather as a sort of intimate initiatory path, an astonishing and private Wunderkammer in which the Artist allegorically reveals his secrets.

Obviously, not everyone will manage to understande it fully, but certainly each of the wiewers will be seduced by suggestions evoking theri own personal sensitivity: like a musician knowledgeably using, for example, the C Major key to express and evoke solemnity and a martial character, confidence and radiant splendour, lokewise the chromatic path devides by the Artist will bring about a confrontation between the audience itself and its own sentiments, nevertheless providing suggestions, evoking atmosphere and, exactley as happens with music, leaving every avenute open, in ambiguity that is the veritable quintessence of the art and its fruition.

Certanly those works of Corona in which the protagonist is a sort of ideal, allegoric theatrical scene, veritable choreography, in which the objects placed in space can appear as tenors or sopranos acting on a stage, are of easier and more immediate approach (even if no less rich in interpretative possibilities); these are the two Wagnerian warriors that confront each other in the scene “I Guardiani”, or the three characters in a love triangle in “La Contesa”, lined up in front of the audience in a trio full of fire and passion, as in Vincenzo Bellini’s “Il Pirata”.

Finally, how can we mess re-discovering George Bernanos’s essential and ascetic syntax in his Les dialogues del Carmélites (it goes without saying, joined to its second skin, constituted by its incomparable musical companion from the genius of Francis Poulenc) in the painting on wood in which the luminiscent, triumphant splendor of red apples immersesitself, conversing affectionately – almost denying its own vanity – with a few objects of simnple daily use? It is this mood that replicates itself in the “Mele di Montezago” or in “Le mele di Miranda”.

Confroted by the asceticism of the rugged sequence of “Bread Parade”, we are left absolutely breathless. By merely evoking the Bread, as the symbol of our Christian roots, would be sufficient to stimulate a turmoil of meditations but, in this instance, the “Fraciscan” arrangement of elements in a void made of nothing, barely sketched and defined by a simple lowered perspective, leads us to graze fondly at the highest expressions of Renaissance polyphony: “four-part harmony” could be the subtitle of this masterpiece in which you almost seem to be witnessing the sacred conversation of four Saints, chanting praise of the Highest One.

With a simplicity which only wisdom and an extreme synthesis can give, Corona explains that the feelings narrated in painting can become universal values, capable of speaking to the senses as well as to reason; hence, the term “Consonanza” – not used by chance as the title of an intense ad dramatic work, invites us to view the musicality of his painting as an element that cannot be renounced, an indispensable link for sharing an intellectual microcosm that is as much refined as it is communicative.

In this way even the more dramatic concepts, such as reflections on death, evident in “Vanitas” (2014), get blunted by the harmony of the arrangement, rarefied by the palette, as with the contrasts ad accidental notes in the finale of Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa’s madrigal, which after firing up in sharp contrasts, appears to fade into the purity of song.

A particular “genre” of Corona’s painting deserves a brief note spent on it: he often paints shells, another favorite element in baroque art and an immediate reference to the most ancestral music, that played by the oldest and most mythical of instruments (in remote ages, that, together with the human voice, is what shells were).

And so, on closing an ideal circular course, we return to the visual representation of the voice of silent things; even the shells, scenically arranged, (“Incontro” or “Famiglia marina”) appear as players in concert, or in an intimate moment of chambre music.

This in the final analysis in Corona’s stylistic worth, understood, almost revealed in his most intimate and, for this, even more human and fascinating inspiration.