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The interesting variety of attitudes, which is found in Andrea Neri’s recent works, discloses the structure of his thought transposed into the form of art work.
The first cruciai point is even a scientifcal one: Neri shows some structures which seemto disclose the physical and biological composition of vegetables, a kind of secret history of plants narrated under themicroscope and observed with the utmost willingness to wonder. Neri, by using real botanical elements, but without any direct reference to real world, goes beyond the naturalistic aspect and deals with the hidden structure, with something that is not to be told, but which—as one realizes afterwards—contains precious informations about the transformation process leading fromnatural elements to the art work. A plant skeleton is a visual wonder, but it also becomes a structure and contains its own pictorial qualities in terms of colour and image. Here there is a kind of scientistic positivism of sampling, which little by little turns into a subtly worrying and fanciful magic. The second cruciai point, on which the main part of Neri’s path as an artist is based, refers to his romantic or, if nothing else, alchemistic way of standing to his own work.
Many of his recent works are structured as triptychs and we know well the magic importance of the [gure Three within the interpretation of alchemy given by art, for instance in Durer’s “Melancholia”. The names, which is a better word than titles, of Neri’s works are mysterious and probably belong to a biographic sphere of the artist that he does not want to disclose but ”to guard to the look” and to attention. Materials — superposed papers, works in wood and encaustic — look so mysterious that their final result is very far from the naturalistic province and from a possible disclosure. Nothing is to be said about the way in which these paintings are made and it is better to leave the question open, and the shadows as well. The use of, and the preference for, black quali[es the movement towards symbolic darkness. Black is not the absolute darkness as opposed to white, earth black, warm and fertile, positive black as the earth’s womb in which the world’s regeneration takes place, black symbol of earthly and aerial fertility in ancient Egypt and in North Africa, the black of clouds heavy with rain, the warm black of earth burnt by the sun from which it receives golden nuances. Therefore, what might seem to be a normal tendency to the way of mystery and darkness of the magic symbol, is becoming partly contradictory, because Neri’s work is after ali communicative and refers to extremely recognizable sensorial values, from the wish of touching surfaces in order to capture their consistency to the desire of smelling their likewise mysterious odours, resins or perfumes, of listening far echoes and, of course, of understanding their meanings through the look, with the pleasure of private viewing.
As there is an immersion into the sphere of symbol, it is possible to share the interpretation of Neri’s work given by Enzo Biffi Gentili in his “Histoire du Ciel” (1) using Luigi Carluccio’s words:
“But a wider vision (of art) allows to perceive, apart from the festive sun dazzle and the screen of brilliant light and colour impressions, also the much broader [eld of those zones that I cali shadow zones only to point out the contrast“. In fact, Neri proves he does not adopt those criteria and forms of crypticalness of symbols that often repulse, instead of attracting to the mystery. As regards the formai analysis of Andrea Neri’s work, it seems that it is possible to use, in more than one sense, the term of abstraction, considering its vastness on today’s art scene. Precisely, it is a de facto pictorial abstraction, even if it is projected into an installational dimension, into a tight confrontation with space, with rich stratifications and a particular curiosity for alien matters and elements. Neri’s abstraction refers to a Mediterranean and warm tradition which, as Demetrio Paparoni said when he wrote about the new Italian abstract painting, “refrains from making a clean and blazing break with the past, in many cases experienced as a historical privilege: he who has a heritage, has no reason to waste it into nothing;” (2). Therefore, Neri’s art is quite far from the let’s say American abstract conceptual approach and, on the contrary, rather rich with references to the Italian history, to his being an Italian and to Italian sensitivity.

Luca Beatrice

(1) Cfr. “Histoire du ciel” in“Dioce”, exhibition catalogue for different places, Turin, Aprii 992 (Enzo Biffi Gentili ed.). The quotation of Luigi Carluccio’s sentence is taken from“Il sacro e il profano nell’arte dei simbolisti”, Turin 969.
(2) Cfr. Demetrio Paparoni, “Italia-America. L’astrazione ridefinita”, catalogue for the exhibition at the Galleria Nazionale Arte Moderna, San Marino June- September 993, page 11.