Testo critico Lombardi Looking out - Monica Spada

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“Looking Out” for Monica Spada                                   back

A row of astonished faces cut like Byzantium icons, outlined heads of an Egyptian memory, all looking with giant eyes in the same direction. Fiction in fiction, question in question. Where and what is that flock of heads looking at? It is looking at something while being looked at. They are the emblem of the very act of looking, short circuited in the gaze of the onlooker, tenderly confessing that poetic vocation which is, maybe, common to all painters: that of looking out. Looking out onto the world, even though only for short enlightening moments of clairvoyance, leaning out in that elsewhere we become in the bursting of the abandonment, because a true painter never gets stuck in the quicksand of the self, where it gets reassured in a pitying and pathetic scenario of false awards, but moves away with the same sweetness of a falling petal and leaves to everyone the privilege of looking out.

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It is beyond any doubt that Modernity has given us as a perfectly crafted gift, that of the catastrophe of the gaze. Artists have thus felt compelled to pursue the easiest and most banal of the possible expressions, that of talking about themselves. The true blindness, crowded by meaningless images, has taken over the scene and, like in the obscene story by Saramago, only ugliness and the pathological have found shelter. That looking out, that act that for ages has made the world visible and, by doing so, has founded it, has capsized in its own psychoanalytic parody and, in the horrid nemesis, the gold of Byzantium has turned into the muddy darkness of the well of the being. Even from that well, no doubt, we can look out, but only to look out onto the mirror which autistically reflects our own reflection. By doing so, nothing really ever happens. By looking out onto ourselves we do nothing else but reproduce the darkness of the world. No gifts. No treasures of gardens, first imagined and then made real. Only the Moloch of our own narcissistic horror, which has dried out the world and it is still killing it, by denying its very meaning and radical otherness, is left.
Nonetheless you still retain the purity to look out, naturally, with a founding and indefeasible gesture, aware that the threshold changes us forever and in it, everything that all the compulsive violence of gestures never produces, happens. Your looking out is always gentle and silent and the places seem to come to life by themselves. They effortlessly show themselves to our gratitude and to our primary amazement, without any subjective encumbrances or egotistical garbage, fresh of dream and common truth. This is why I feel your looking out as ours and, that it would be necessary for those looking at your places and figures, never to question what they are looking at, but how they are looking and question themselves if their gaze is pure enough to be able to perceive, beyond the dull sound of one’s own expectations and judgements, something of that outside you made visible to them. A little of true silence would be necessary, as well as taking away from one’s gaze all those debris that years of misunderstandings have layered, like guano , onto our possibility to see, so much as to compromise even the capacity of seeing itself. It would be necessary to lean out from the balcony of one’s own soul, taking full pleasure of the freshness of an unexpected Spring, of a new season of colours, of a new born and aware desire. Just looking out.
A long time ago you were looking out onto original formal nuclei that in your hands turned into embraces. Entangles of unidentified bodies, involved in an act of love out of pure acceptance of the other. Cosmic gratitude. There was no dominant race, no war logics, only a sweet surrender into the embrace, witness of a higher welcoming. It is a sort of civil poetry in a world where the coarseness of the most stoic fetters of identity daily reproduces horrors we would have never wanted to witness.


The beauty of your embraces, laic and libertarian, saves us, a little at least, from this widespread and disguised anthropophagy. Lonely and angry monsters, obscene, selfish, petty and terrorized, avert their eyes from the crystal clear truth of the embrace. A black, dense and oily layer of ashes glues their helpless eyes shut. But you sanded with patience and love those unlikely bodies, coming from who knows where, and entangled them in an eternal embrace that no evil can break. And this is where the difference is.
Then it is like a childhood whirling wind that has come back and filled the terraces with unlikely games. Meaningless machines but full of grace and joyful dreamlike uselessness. You have been looking out onto rooms containing the soul of the world for such a long time now, rooms rich in sharp corners, arches and impossible escapes. You were kneeling down as in a prayer in those empty monastic spaces full of echo, in a reverberation of lights and perfectly musical nuances. From those rooms other rooms were born, from those openings other openings, from those games other games until you decided to stand, forever, looking out from your terrace onto the world. A place of perfect contemplation and stasis. Neither inside, nor outside, still inside and yet outside. The terrace, threshold on the threshold, makes you a part of its fair and immense distance. It is like being inside leaving one foot outside, in order to see better or sing a melancholic melody addressed to nothing or no-one in particular, a purely spatial nostalgia. In front there is always a simple and clean world, almost Franciscan in its purity; a line of vibrant sea, a white and deserted shore, where the spare objects are outlined in a monumental solitude, or a ridge of faraway hills. But the place you’ve chosen to stay is marked by the presence, almost liturgical and Japanese, of a pillow, a couch, a bed. Everything has been said, then. Like in Chinese boxes. Once again the great metaphor of the gaze and ‘painting’. Looking out.
I cannot imagine an art void of desire and obsession and I’ve never been intrigued by empty technical virtuosities, by clever conceptual tricks, by stylistic devices, by illustrative easy-ways out. I can only see the truth of the true artist prompted by necessity, an urge which cannot be postponed, to release its relationship with the world through the form, This is why I’ve always seen what you had the grace to show me. Your art is made of all the beauty of ‘painting’ itself: honesty, clearness, truth, desire, obsession and different repetition. No rhetorical temptation. Only a voyage made by standing still, looking out, from your terrace onto the world. I’ve often found myself wondering over and over and wished to be there too, in that silence, on that white sand, inside that endless season of idleness and contemplation. Meditation.
Time will not be enough. The stone will be worn out by the unbroken gaze. But the place of our desire will always come back, like an immense joy or a great condemnation, to remind us of who we are, maybe, just in the short brightness of a morning dream, doomed to be shortly after forgotten, or in the eternity of a painted canvas which no awakenings could ever steal from us.



Enrico Lombardi
March 2010

Translation Angela Lombardi

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