|Text by Giacomo Costa - From the catalogue "Corrado Zeni - Last Paintings" - Vanilla Ed.|
- To observe humans from a certain height is fun, they remind me of those hardworking insects always on the go... ants!
- Yes, but those are less aggressive, quieter and far more neat.
- Actually if you look at a row of ants and a line of Italians...
- Yeah, and I remind you that I won the bet... I told you that they would not have much evolved… over thousands of years that we observe them they have gone from cheering gladiators to cheering soccer players ...
- Anyway, better not get too close… remember the mess when it happened?
- Yeah, once they filled an island of stone heads, another time they built useless pyramids ...
- Ha ha ha... really... and how did they call you that time ...?
- I don’t remember... but they still invoke me after they tried to kill me!
- Really... and thinking of doing you a favor they even buried you... thank goodness you managed to escape after three days ...
(conversation between scientists on planet Zombis)
I find myself in the original and challenging position of writing an essay, but being an irresponsible I will accept this hard task with the lightness of those who may have drunk too much losing inhibitions.
An artist who writes about his work is often an idiot and if he writes about the work of another artist is often an envious, but Corrado is to me a special person. Together we lived stories on the roads and in the galleries, unforgettable benders, odd adventures and endless discussions. We found ourselves in abstruse and surreal contexts, we met many inspiring people and sometimes irritating ones too, we woke up in places without knowing whether we had really done what we seemed to remember in flashes (still hope that some of those memories were dreams!) .
A sincere and honest artist (these terms are often used to describe other categories of people), he is not afraid to surprise, to change, to revolutionize his own language and works while sticking firmly to the core of his reflection.
Corrado is one of those men who knows how to blow up the outline of the usual and in this new series of paintings has revolutionized all the schemes of his work reversing his point of view. For nearly twenty years he chased people he casually met here and there, he photographed them, extracted them from their stories and assembled them in his own, personal and detached story. He used them as notes of a musical score.
They became icons and actors in a movie that had nothing to do with reality but rather with the interpretation that he gave to a world that was probably only in his head.
His paintings were photo sets dominated by the white of a sterile and alienating background useful to bring out the human figures in their daily activities that didn’t belong to them anymore but to Corrado.
Occasionally in some series appeared elements such as viaducts in "Crossing" and words in "I still have a long way" up to the mysterious colored puddles of "Generation why". These elements were used to create a context that was not the one were the actors by chance find themselves originally, but to recreate a dreamlike and unsettling scenario... a little like when in daydreaming we see people that we don’t know (but that we met for sure) doing strange things in weird places... (to me often and evidently also to Corrado this happens quite often... could it be the wine?)
A form of projection, a way to create a world in our own image and likeness, and give substance to one’s visionary obsessions.
The works of Zeni were strongly linked to a detached and not shared observation of reality, investigated by the inquiring eye of the anthropologist and lived as a party to which you are not invited, showing a desire to get possesion of a normal daily life that we don’t’ have but we would like to.
The "blur" of certain subjects emphasized the photographic nature of his process but also the life that animated his subjects trapped in his world view.
In Atlas the change from the technical, formal and conceptual point of view, is strong and important.
People seem to have finally found their proper context, and that Zeni no longer has the need to kidnap them from their everyday life but rather wants to tell us about them leaving them in their own world, however interpretating all according to his vision and his experiences.
The world once observed with distance is now much closer to the favored point of view from which the artist observes it and is finally engaging and influencing him.
You could almost believe that Zeni has finally been invited to the party to which he was not previously allowed and didn’t care about (?) ... " Would you notice me more if I come and I sit on the sidelines or if I don’t come at all? "
The human figures continue to do their daily activities but are no longer isolated by the aseptic white, they are no longer in Corrado’s mental zoo, they aren’t investigated under a magnifying glass, but in a real world where colors and shapes tell true stories, places and moments.
The subjects of Corrado have thus took back their own stories.
The technique and the creative process are free from the almost scientific scheme of the previous research, sketches and precise photographic montages are no longer necessary, Zeni now gathers on his canvases his experiences interacting with the rest of the world around him. He let himself go to a more spontaneous way of painting, less controlled and almost dreamlike.
Playing the dog-cheap psychologist (which of course I do better then the dirt cheap art critic) I would say that it seems that Corrado has made peace with humanity and doesn’t feel anymore the order of everyday life and the warmth of affection as a mysterious phenomenon that needs to be observed with scientific curiosity.
Since I firmly believe that the authenticity of an artist is measured by the ability to show oneself and their own experience in the works, albeit in a metaphorical and not didactic way, I wonder if
there is any connection with the fact that between "Generation why?" and "Atlas" Corrado has found the beautiful, sweet, soft, patient, poised and intelligent Francesca - the love of his life?
And the fact that I introduced her to him, and that I was the best man at their wedding and now I am here narrating his poetic evolution, is it a coincidence?
The lovers of dog-cheap psychology and the diehard conspiracy theorists will judge ...
Meanwhile ... I’m going back on my planet!
Zeni from Chico Schoen on Vimeo.