Giovanni Cavazzon

Portraits by Giovanni Cavazzon

The historical avantguards of the twentieth century seem to have eclipsed the art of portraits – intended as the ideal representation of a person – in painting, sculpture and even in photography. Photographers were often asked to produce portraits for consumers, for reports or bureaucracy, to publish in newspapers, or to be included in documents, or – at best – to be handled like a fragment of that lost time that anyone of us would like to recover. Painters abandoned any interest for physiognomic likelihood (the cubist distortions and deformations by Picasso are exemplary), but aimed at communicating the psychological and emotional aura of the subject such as they perceived it.
Nevertheless, the demand for the traditional portrait has never declined, maybe because a painted portrait seems to last longer, to have more dignity and nobility, and seems to assure a greater freedom of interpretation with respect to photography.
Those who pose know little of their own appearance, as they live in the projection of the ideal of an image that mirrors can confirm or, more often, deny. Therefore, they wish to find the ideal image of themselves in the work of the artist with whom they interweave a dialogue of expression from within.
The radical changes in aesthetic research, the assertion that “everything is art”, and the numerous tendencies to revalue objectivity have brought out realistic expression again. There is a growing number of people who love to go back to the painted portrait non only for self-referential satisfaction but also for a different intellectual way of looking at painting.
And painting feeds on a plurality of autonomous hybrids, with the heterogeneous contribution of the productive world, publicity graphics and commercial arts. We can think of the fetish-serialization by Andy Warhol, of the “high” revaluation of comic-strips from an analytic and dilating perspective (Liechtenstein); of the
mimesisbetween painting and mechanical data typical of photography and of other mass languages of communication (hyper-realism, or the reproduction of the masterpieces of the past, virtuosism close to a quasi-metaphysical trompe-l’oeil).
The relation between painting and photography has come closer and it seems to have brought painting to that academic realism that preceded the impressionist revolution or, at least, to adhere – often polemically – to a diligent scrupulousness, questioning the myth of technical perfection.
In this sense, the portraits by Giovanni Cavazzon exemplify an extremely current new reading of the classics. They are diaphanous like shades of an untouched and faraway world; they shine with an unreal light in the musical harmony of the drawing, proposing themselves like models of a morganatic vision. Their absolute purity dissolves into illusion. Colors develop a function of controcanto, becoming an evocative note of their rarefied receding preciousness; or impressing on the track of ancient references. The choice is never casual, but inspired and suggested by the environment, the character, and the psychological “tone” of the subject.
The two Amodio sisters seem to mime the watercoloured aristocratic photo of the first twentieth century in the emulsion of varnished phrasing of deep blues, in the delicate brown chiaroscuros, in the soft silks and velvets, in the bright pastel rosiness.
Emilia reminds us of Flemish atmospheres: the figure, embossed in the dark background, pivots upon the face – mysterious and charming – invested by light; the loose bangs of her long raven hair reverberate with blue and part like a curtain revealing an apparition; her elegant hands are languidly abandoned on her knees; the emerald of her ring is another focus of visual convergence.
A tense spirituality picks up the meditative profile of
Paola Borboni. The blond serpentine arpeggios of theSpring and of the Venus by Botticelli ruffle the windy hair of the three Marson Sisters, highlighting the fretting and capricious freshness of their temperament. The volitive head of a Andrea Marson imposes itself with the proud quality of a portrait by Antonello da Messina: the details of the shirt remind us of the coralline reds of his palette.
The warm chromatic components of Nordic ancestors dominate the
Family from Alto Adige, echoing Brueghel.
The multiple images borrowed from cinematographic dynamism confirm the eclectic rapinosity of Cavazzon’s techniques. The painter doubles or triplicates the faces in the same composition to catch the multiplicity of expressions that go by in a flash. So you can see the sequence of
the Three moments of Giorgio Celiberti, delineated with pencils and sanguine: a limpid drawing of Leonardesque mark. Or the Triple portrait of the actor Gastone Moschin, whose main lines remind us of the Triple portrait of a goldsmith by Lorenzo Lotto. Or, more, the winking strips of the Heads of children, of a transparent graphic. The resolution of the Portrait of a Colombian girl brings a length of film as its referential logo.
Portrait of the painter Gina Roma insists on the semantic function of detail: on a neutral sheet there is a non-finite close-up of her face, joyful with creativity; beneath, according to a correlation which is not spatial but logical, we find her hands, interlaced on the white working apron and, under, her paintbrushes in a pot.
The delicate
Portrait of Barbara, with her sweet lively glance, is an elegy to absolute beauty; is a strong trace of angelical terrestrialness. This was created with a purity of evanescent renaissance, sublimed by a flou effect, almost to mimetically analyze the virtuosistic possibilities of photographic technique.
The Family of the football player Sensini is inserted in a “window”: the observer can draw at wish the true curtain that defends their privacy. Cavazzon often inserts his images in wooden boxes with titles that remind us of the characters used by forwarding-agents: this leads to extraneity, to distancing from the subject which is allusive of the process of mercification of the artistic product. Cavazzon uses the same syntactic expedient in his self-portrait, which is exemplary for physiognomic and introspective characterization: the maniacal reproduction of the municipal seal ironically “certifies” its official existence, while the polystyrene framed underneath alludes to a proposal of self-museification.
Accumulations that the French Arman obtained with color tubes, ball bearings, billiard balls, piano and violin scraps, polemically told of the triturated plot of contemporary consumerism. On the contrary, the paintbrush that Cavazzon has placed in full view amidst rubbish tells of his intention to react to any omologation and to state his own creative identity.