Raffaella Salato: solo show From the slant shadow, Carlo Bilotti Museum, Rome, Catalogo De Luca Editori d’Arte, 2019


“There is eloquence in the tongueless
wind, and a melody in the flowing brooks and the rustling of the
reeds beside them, which by their inconceivable relation to something
within the soul, awaken the spirits to a dance of breathless

Della declinante ombra (From the slant shadow) is a flight, enigmatic and at times crepuscular, through the poetic universe of Vincenzo Scolamiero, a synthesis in perennial flux between nature and spirit, between the tangible and the ethereal, between the immanent and the abstract.

   The elements dear to Scolamiero, borrowed from the rural world of the countryside, gifted with a bucolic grace from bygone days, yet perfectly contemporary in their iconicity, are all recognizable throughout the cycle of works on show in the Carlo Bilotti Museum – a scrupulous selection of papers and paintings of various sizes, dating from 2015 to 2019, including some new works created especially for the occasion. However, they become increasingly rarefied on canvass as one moves towards the most recent paintings. Rather than reproduced faithfully, they are suggested, or perhaps evoked, slipping into the fog of a memory capable of folding in on itself, but which obstinately escapes oblivion. This visual representation traces back to the natural phenomenon of shadows – “slanting”, to be precise – which slowly lengthen across the land as the sun drops towards the horizon at sunset, almost as if he’s settling himself down along with it. And in doing so they scan the incessant flow of time, phlegmatic but inexorable.

    Nevertheless, there is a graceful yet pleasingly disturbing breath in Vincenzo Scolamiero’s works that “ruffles” the canvasses, bringing them alive and giving the observer the sensation of admiring perennially changing, ungraspable scenarios. Nothing is defined and nothing is as it seems. The present is no more than a glimmering promise of a future that becomes a memory in a moment. Everything is suspended by a wind which – as exhibition curator Gabriele Simongini writes – “is above all an inner air of breath.”

    Wind is a poetic image of great symbolic value, and it’s no coincidence that in Leopardi’s poem, Ricordanze, it brings with it the “sound of the hour”, thus becoming the symbol of the passage of time and what that flow entails (“the eternal” sung in “the infinite”). Claude Debussy maintained that the wind “passes and tells us the stories of the world”. And, in fact, Scolamiero’s wind tells us his story, his most intimate one, composed of memories, of sensations, of earliest emotions. It’s a story that is actually a mirror of the story of Man, of his relationship with the surrounding world, which appears familiar and reassuring to us in its little things, more than in its great and magnificent ones. It involves the “small insignificant joys, similar to miniscule flowers” narrated by Banana Yoshimoto. Not only flowers, but twigs, leaves, shrubs, tufts of cotton, among which “hide grains of a barely perceptible happiness, which the soul breathes and, thanks to which, lives.”

    Vincenzo Scolamiero’s canvasses thus appear like freeze-frame photos of an inner path, at times melancholic and unsettling, as in those dominated by blacks and greys, or severe and rigorous, when characterized by broad brushstrokes of rusty red, and at other times lighter and cheerful, trusting, illuminated by red lacquer and soft expanses of gold. They are small, perfect and complete universes, which attract at first glance for the elegance of their touch, their captivating tones, their three-dimensionality, created by the artist’s masterly technique, composed of overlays of oils, pigments, inks and acrylics. In short, for the exquisite balance between creative impulse and formal control that has long been the stamp of Vincenzo Scolamiero’s style. We find ourselves wanting to follow, to pursue in flight that gracious dance of sheets of paper, the carousel of white brushstrokes that caress the majority of his canvases, like pages of a story still to be written and which, between memory and experience, between introspection and observation, unravel before our astonished eyes… “in a gust of wind”.

Raffaella Salato