Fifteenth episode of the program “Pralines. Deliciousness from the world of art” by Ly thi Thanh Thao and Sergio Mandelli dedicated to Andrea Chiesi.
Andrea Chiesi is born in 1966 in Modena.
At the beginning of the ‘80s, he comes into contact with the so-called “underground culture” which offers him an occasion to look at the world in a different way from the mainstream.
During those years, along via Emilia, inhabited by desperately vital people described in the book “Altri libertini” by Pier Vittorio Tondelli, a variety of initiatives was launched to propose post punk music.
For example, Radio Antenna One of Fiorano Modenese and Tùwat, a social center of Carpi.
Thanks to these initiatives, Andrea Chiesi has discovered Joy Division, a group that, more than any others, has confirmed his idea of the world, characterized by the dark and nihilist life vision of its leader, Ian Curtis.
The post punk culture is also expressed through comic strips: this art language, thanks to magazines such as Frigidaire, came to know its protagonists, namely Liberatore, Mattotti, Bilal.
It’s no mere coincidence that Andrea Chiesi begins to publish comic strips on fanzines – nonprofessional magazines with limited circulation.
It’s right at Tùwat that, for the first time, Andrea Chiesi exhibits his drawings and meets the CCCP. Fedeli alla linea, the determinant group of Italian punk rock, fruit of the encounter between the guitarist Massimo Zamboni and the poet and singer Giovanni Lindo Ferretti, personages fundamental for Andrea Chiesi’s artistic and cultural maturity.
In the meantime, he fills his notebooks with pages and pages of sketches.
And with the use of ink, he begins to get to the essential aspects of his artistic production.
In particular, his sketches represent a suffering humanity, formed by fluctuating bodies, almost phosphorescent creatures of the abysses.
Thanks to these sketchbooks, in 1998, there happens an important event of his career, organized together with Ferretti’s new group, CSI. Consorzio Suonatori Indipendenti.
On this occasion he realizes a series of big paintings for the exhibition entitled “The Apocalypse of John”. And probably, “John” doesn’t refer to St. John the Evangelist but to Ferretti himself.
The inauguration turns out to be a big event: it is accompanied by the CSI, and Ferretti performs the recitation of visionary texts.
Having to illustrate the Apocalypse, Chiesi finds it natural to take inspiration from traditional themes, such as “piety” and “deposition”, indices of compassion towards human sufferings.
Moreover, in a text recited by Ferretti, “fire” and “flaming souls” are repeatedly nominated. Andrea Chiesi, whereby, faces this theme meditating on the souls in purgatory.
So the dark of Chiesi is neither the dark of hell nor the dark of desperation of Ian Curtis; more or less, it’s the dark of those that, though living in darkness, are looking forward to light, to redemption, to salvation.
After this exhibition Andrea Chiesi feels the necessity to change.
First of all, he has to change the subject: he no longer wants to deal with human bodies; he wants to deal with landscapes, and above all, urban landscapes, a subject he has already treated in his sketchbooks.
Consequently he has to change his technique: he no longer uses ink for sketches; he uses oil for paintings on canvas.
Moreover, he has to face the problem of light: with ink, light comes from the white of the paper, but with oil, light emerges from colors.
This technique requires a thorough study of the subject, an approach that calls for an exercise of inner cleaning.
It’s not by chance that he is contemporaneously interested in Buddhist philosophy and in martial arts.
In order to put into evidence structures, and to work on contrasts, he makes use of just a few colors, and they are colors of twilight.
At this point we can say the only thing that remains unchanged is his will to represent the inner world.
He himself confesses: “It would seem a painting of landscape, but in reality, I paint bodies, from the inside and from the outside. In search of light amid the dark.”
It’s the result of an artist that keeps alive the responsibility to endow the public not only with the fruit of long and painstaking manual experiences but also with important references to spiritual and existential reflections.