Enrico Lombardi “La Terza Natura” (The third nature) 1999
(a few considerations on Monica Spada’s ‘painting’) back
The dream of an outside time has always inhabited the human unconscious, where each gesture is pure and founding and the relationship between man and world is not yet hierarchically unveiled and ordered by words. Man and animal stare at one another and, although sensing the immense distance that separates them, can still feel a sense of community with the world.
Their radical otherness is not yet conceptually stated and in their gaze something alike can be found, may it be the amazement of sharing a common space or the feeling that the same end will, sooner or later come; or else a reciprocal grace!
This is why what happens between them is an embrace, it is love and not hostility, the chance of losing themselves into one another, or go in the same direction, even though accidentally, answering a call towards the same light and horizon. These are the characters painted by Monica Spada. They run into one another and follow a mutual fate where none is yet definite and thus obliged in a rigid identity and identification system, there is no boss dictating the laws structuring the space and hence no privileged position. In the man much of the animal can be found and vice-versa, and in both lots of the divine.
They are figures of the primary, founding event, not dictated by the sterile objection for one’s own time, as no time in the human horizon can ever be considered as one’s own but evoked by the desire of a possible union and the overcome of those bonds that have made men the biggest slave of all. They are figures absolutely free from any roles and regimes, from any bureaucracies, from any principles of authority, from any supremacies of race and species, and thus figures that have to do with respect, with listening and embracing, figures of the extreme tenderness towards the incommunicable being, of the total inclination towards the other in its unavoidable difference, figures of the gift and the community.
One of them is particularly striking, that of the slumped figure, which often recurs and becomes, in the obsession of repetition, the emblem of this supreme gesture of abandonment.
This is definitely not another Arcadia or the result of a gaze looking at a never land, where, literally speaking, a dream of purity is projected into a world men have never really lived in. This is not another “Golden Age” but the represented place of reciprocity and gratitude where beings melt into an embrace that redeem them both because it is an absolutely ethical gesture. As in any true artwork its ethicality is not merely symbolic or of contents but wholly involved in the coming of the form, which is thus, form of an ethical stance in the organization of color and space. What must be said can only be said like this. It is exactly in this necessity of each single component of the artwork, may it be physical or metaphysical, in the impossibility to change something without changing everything else, in the justness of the whole, that the ethicality of ‘painting’ differs from its aesthetics, since its primary goal is not the beauty of the object itself but the truth of the act and the loyalty to one’s own primary place.
This is an ethical stance that in Monica can be found essentially in her vocation for the composition. For her to compose means to make. Her composition hardly ever comes from a previous idea of a project or an illustration but it is the real occupation of the becoming figurative space. It is composition in a philological sense, from the word ‘com-porre’, that is to ‘put together’. A composition which is never didactical but a hard-fought conquer of the space in the act of painting, with no moody expressionistic improvisations but with the patience of someone who places each moment, along with one’s conquests, next to one another until the form comes out, almost on its own, with no visible effort in a great gesture of abandonment, an abandonment which is pure effort, great discipline, ritual and method. Even the color, applied in purities that remind us of the Italian Trecento, fulfills exclusively the duty of composition. You can find in it, beside the gift of a great plastic realness, the strength of several tones which reinforce, up to becoming almost mineral-like, a compositional proposition. It is not therefore a composition which uses the space for its unexplainable figures, but it is figure of itself, of its own desire, of its being in the absolute presence of the artwork.
When talking about Monica Spada’s work I have often heard two words: magical and primitive, but they have been used void of that afterthought necessary to undress these words of a physiological ambiguity. In Italy, in fact, what is considered as “primitive” is essentially what is found outside the Renaissance paradigm and for this reason often ignored and misunderstood in its very foundations, even when the results were some of the highest and most enlightening ones. Monica Spada’s paintings definitely own something that reminds us of the Tuscan primitives, especially for their absolute lack of naturalism, for the disproportions and the fantastic occupation of the space; we can thus assert that they belong and in part continue that tradition but her primitivism, if we can call it that, it is not of style but of substance and ethics. This is why many of her compositions remind us of cave art, the very first man’s figurative expression, and possess the same mystery and magic. Magical are thus Monica’s paintings and not because she adventures in easy esotericisms (so trendy nowadays), not because prone towards an otherness with profiles so vague as to be, from time to time, filled with the most obvious subject matters, but because primary and founding. The magic of these artworks is the flesh itself they are made of, the desire that turns into figures and their endless present.
Once artists have shown us the figures of their own desire and passage their artwork is automatically inscribed into a horizon of awareness and becomes unforgettable. It shows us a precise place. This is what Monica Spada’s ‘art’ is.