Senza titolo con natura morta
di decomposte mele, in elevazioni, e vive
Untitled still-life with a heap of
decayed and live apples
The central nave of the Crypt of Saint Mary’s church sprouts from the mossy earth exhaling out mould, peat, incinerate censers, decomposed honey, barks. It rises from old roman clay, the bricks encrusted with damp saltpetre and ancient dust, have been assembled in a fish-bone shape for two millennia. In the crypt, imbued with dense, pungent fumes, made out of walls oozing with dampness, stands a 40 cm high layer of apples weighing around 10 quintals. Most apples are already decayed and soon they will all be completely rotten, changing into a black-ochre poultice suggesting an atmosphere of death. The juicy and sweet smelling apples will intoxicate us in a short time with their alcoholic and thick sugar effluvia ensuing from their dissolution.
This biological dissolution recalls the decayed substances exuding from corpses of seventeenth century catholic saints; substances kept into phials because of their estimated healing power.
If, in late summer, apples are colourful and tasty, soon their appearance changes, their skin turns brown and strained, thus, when touched, they eviscerate a liquid fermentation. Their round shape reminds of the wombs of a pregnant mother. Indeed the germination of new life is innate in a rotten apple. Exciting the five senses the association among different words engages emotions and sensations in an obsessive pulsation entailing the unceasingly elaboration of the brain. (“Al tuo laccio son preso, soffoco, / incupite ebrezze”, cf. M.Sgalambro, Nietzsche. Frammenti di una biografia per versi e voce, 2006, p. 7; cf., sui cinque sensi , L.Stoisa, Percezioni mobili, testo di A.Accornero, Galleria Oddi Baglioni, Roma, 1994).
In the above mentioned heap of apples it is possible to re-discover a significant Luigi Stoisa’s code already conceived by the Artist in a previous personal exhibition at the Reggia of Caserta. In that occurrence, the work consisted of a layer of brilliant- yellow wheat which looked like a shining instrumental brass resonance titling “La semina” (sowing) (glass and neon, paper on wheat, ambient measure, cf. the catalogue dalla terra, (from the earth) 15 December 2005-15 January 2006, edited by Ferrero, 2005, p.199). While in Caserta the decayed seeds produce life, here, the fermented pulp generates life from the bowels of the earth; where earth signifies, dissolving reassembling “terre in strutturali complessioni” (“earth into structural constitutions”) the essence of which is Palus Putredinis, marsh of/in-exhausted decomposition (E.Sanguineti, Laborintus, XXVII poesie, 1951-1954, 1, v.1).
Moreover, apple fruit (seen as Caravaggio’s baroque admonition on idleness and briefness of human existence) is the real first Stoisa’s painting work on tar, tar being “una delle materie più frequenti nella sua attività” (”a component mostly used by the Artist”). For him “il catrame indica –non a caso- la tensione alla scomparsa dell’opera, perchè risucchia –come la cripta inabissa in sè, nel suo ventre, l’installazione- i colori a olio” (“tar underlines the tension that causes, by exertion of a sucking force, the disappearing of oil colours. The same effect occurs in the present work where the installation is sinking into Crypt’s bowels”) (cfr.M.Bertoni, in Luigi Stoisa, “Del togliere” (removing) catalogue of a personal exhibition in Modena, spaces of Il divano di George gallery, 27 October-22 December 2007, pp. 7-8). The apple firstly painted and laid by the brush is sucked into tar.
As symbol of sinful temptation at the dawning of the biblical story (sign of human frailty and mortal choice) Stoisa’s first apple is placed on a belly’s hollow hand. The work (70x50 cm) Senza titolo 1982 -Simonis collection– oil on tar, represents a naked woman laying down like a fruit which Eve offers to us, Adam’s children.
Same gift, the present of an apple by Eve-Pandora can be admired in yet another larger work (170x120 cm) Senza titolo of same year, privately exhibited in the Tucci Russo Art Gallery (cf. Luigi Stoisa da Antonio Tucci Russo, catalogue edited by C.Levi, 1984, p.7). This oil painting appears reproduced in the inner wall of another Stoisa’s painting. There, the swift movements of a woman with voluptuous hips brush against a small table. Here, once again, the woman stretches out another apple towards us. (Senza titolo, oil on tar, 240x180 cm, 1985).
While real and painted apples are drawn alongside in Gusto (a 1994 oil painting on tar plus adhesive tape and apples, 120x80 cm, cf. the already mentioned Percezioni mobili) it is in his Natura morta (180x100 cm) oil on tar painting dated back to 1983-1984, that Luigi Stoisa revealed his perception of the baroque transience of life and the irrepressible elapsing of time. Indeed the vivid and mature colours of autumnal fruits, which were photographed both when just painted and again after few months, had changed and become an excretion pulp “una pegola spessa, / che ‘nvischiava la ripa d’ogni parte” (cf. Dante, Inf., XXI, vv.17-18).
Now, while admiring the layer of those rotten apples that reproduce new opportunities of life, we are able to perceive the lightness of the structure of the abbey built by industrious human ants (our predecessors), thus creating void where there was fullness (crypt-belly) by erecting colonnades, masonry, domes which filled the whole abbatial area. To this end Luigi Stoisa used paper and charcoal, tools deeply rooted in ars.
The rotten apples represent our predecessors, ourselves and those to come. May therefore anchorite Stoisa persevere in instilling from these columns-forests rich in symbols (symbols that are sandstone capitols of the crypt) “resine dorate”/ dai tronchi marcescenti del sapere” (“golden rosins / from decaying trunks of cognition”) (E:Montale, Oggi è di moda, in Diario Postumo – 66 poesie e altre, Milano, 1996, p.22, vv.10-11). Golden rosins of his cognition.
Mauro Comba, 2009
di Michele Bramante
testo di Maria Vittoria Berti
video di Federico Galetto