Leonardo Lustig sculpture inside
The centrality of the human figure marks the contemporary art making trasversally. The body has always concentrated and held lasting, universal questions concernig man. It has driven out deep, emotional strata, it has lived as a soul scenery crossed by burning emotions, by tension shivers, by tactile anxieties: a different universe lived and felt like a course, a survey, a pretext, a fetish, a story, a paradox or a simple substance leavening towards perfection, disenchantment, neglect.In this intense, intermittent dialectic sequence with a highly expressive value of form and content, creatures and plastic creations of different space and temporal dimensions live almost like clearing houses of an exciting physicalness meant as a narrative and mimetic transposition of the surrounding world.
Therefore we can reasonably affirm that nowadays, the body lives in art a second Renaissance after the devastating, but necessary, violation of every plastic rules alternating closed forms, and of a solid disposition of volumes with tormented, irregular, skinny surfaces extremely sharpened in a damned fury of a representative which wanted to cancel the represented. Dipping a new classicism, in a bath purifying the most extreme drosses of the unconscious, however, today a return to the past does not develop a nostalgic return or a glorification of the remote past (the only sight and representation of Greek models are grand) but more thoroughly an aesthetic choice directed to a contemporary public muddled, pushed, attacked, mislaid in the babel of languages and fashions of the emerging visual by now.
Outside the new codes of abstraction, the ridge which parts the new millennium way of doing sculpture is precise and determined: on the one hand the side of the artists who make use of the classicism and fascination of the great cultures rereading and giving them an original touch, almost creative which becomes a stylistic paradigm recognizable at once. Let us think of the fragmentations, dissections, interferences by Igor Mitoraj on Greek statues, of the ambiguous, decontextualized figures by Rabarama covered with a skin in modular plugs and geometrical grids between symbology and esoteric polarities; let us think of Giuseppe Bergomi’s still almost hypnotic states suspended but ordinary, stopped in the stand-by of an improbable reality. On the other hand, instead, a bigger and more composite group of artists starts to live they experience a different love for culture and beauty, a love which is not a fleeting infatuation, but a permanent vocation and sublimation towards the fixing of the image. They are sculptors still, bewitched by the magic “of the unchangeable principle “ as Winckelmann described classical beauty – who breathe emotional abandon of the body as an exorcism of the substance, as a rapture towards extasy and perfection. Cantores of an already vanished world, these artists are the happy prisoners of the traps of an algid way of creating art and of remoteness, of a required detachment which releases no energy and does not produce an alienating, emotional involvement.
Leonardo Lustig has on purpose chosen to live the most intense climate of these two aesthetic models without neglecting, however, an occasional incursion into few, but important works of new, informal intensity and in a series of characters plunged into a neat and iconic ordinary metaphysics. Lustig’s modern classicism is the link between a yarn for beauty and a conflict of reality even if domestic and popular. The artist alternates areas and scratched, granular works, glittering areas playing together with lights and shades with a poetry of flat material composed in the purity of volumes. He is a very talented artist who through different suggestions and cultural associations confirms his style stressing on the form in a mild but definite way. The Ligurian sculptor does not disdain a non – shaped summary in which the volumes are often interdependent on the wounds of the substance and the scanning of plastic schemes.
The attentive critic cannot fail to observe the formal beauty and elegance of his Innocente (Innocent) where the grapesfall is on the same creative line of Michelangelo’s Bacchus and the musicality of his posture is in tune with the Spinario of the Vatican Museums and (in accordance with Lettore of 1996) “ The Tobiolo” by Arturo Martini. We cannot but link the enigmatic, meditative, intense expression and gestural expressiveness of Concentrazione (Concentration) with the Thinker by Rodin. Moreover the lost look of In ascolto (Listening) with the present absence of the standing man of Troubetzkoy. Lustig, indeed, seems willing to break and suspend the vital and original flowing of his figures to fix it in an intermediate, universal stage of an unchangeable and at the same time, improbable time. Hence the obsolate chemistry of the relationship between reality and fiction which makes of every figure the protagonist of the endless story of life and memory.
I have often written about this false detachment separating the images of sculpture from the shivers going through them, they are images, therefore, in their absence irreparably real like Lustig’s ones. In balance on the edge of ambiguity they seem eager to escape and at the same time to identify themselves as bodies to become the litmus paper able to cause a strange presence of the absence, almost a metaphisical leavening at the same time producing warmth and detachment out of the development of the emotions. Inside his sculpture and with sculpture inside, Lustig – like for Diderot and his paradox – sees each of his creations live, he gets into the crowd of his characters by means of the universal key of reason.
In the artist there is no idealization like in the Greek bronze, but an imaginative and concrete reading which makes Lustig a poet of the material and at the same time the narrator of a human condition in its composite identity and uniqueness. Those are not casual occasions in which the artist lives an anomalous, wanted tension estranging himself from the subject and from the nullifying of the emotional perception becoming an interpreter of reality sic and simpliciter, that is of a reality free from any subjective input and from perceptive or interpretative insertion. The sculpture Il lavoro degli antichi (The Labour of the Ancients) is a fitting assumption of it. In this work the sculptor turns into a cold reporter of the labour as an everyday ritual, as a human condition, as a habit to suffering, as salt and bread of the tribulation, but also of the nobility of the human being.
Anyway the rereading of the prism of classicism is one of the constant recalls put into practice by Lustig even if it is not a remake, but rather a remodelling, even better a rereading. It is a rereading with the eyes of the time, the great mystery surviving in the wonders of the Masters, in an “antique” in, a historical context, metabolized and consumed, which reaches us as if it were evoked – a find or an icon of the past held in history and austerity of the substance and materials. The technique of the “glazed cement” by which he creates the big-sized works, is an important example of it . It is a process used out of necessity which spares the use of bronze and the high cost of wax melting process, but keeping the outside of the sculpture in a perfect condition. Through following stages – from the clay made model to the chalk made negative filled up with concrete and up to the chiselling of the negative to obtain a positive then glazed with special products – the artist obtains both exciting plastic effects of the material and impressing visual ones.
Leonardo Lustig is a well – established sculptor who assimilates, but does not undergo, cultural suggestions. Born and brought up in a family of artists (his father is a writer and his grandfather was a painter) , his style tends towards a measured synthesis of form which absorbs and lives intensly the uneasiness of the modern world fencing it in a microcosm of characters identifying it and identifying themselves as allegories of a animus without emphasis pervaded by a hint of delicate verism. The synthesis is alive also because of a deliberate movement tension of a solid, rational, neat position and a vitality fixed in the balance of a harmonic, dynamic modulation. The Ballerina (the Ballet Dancer) of 1998 is significant and a clear example of the rigor, the purity of volumes and gesture elegance that the artist puts into circulation as if she should fly up.
The yearning for a new spirituality, for the supernatural leaving behind the physical dimension of man and of his body as material and setting free his conscious identity, is the flash which released another important achievement of Lustig’s: the Roveto ardente (Burning Bush) – The imposing work stands out with its leavening interlacement and darting, involving drives, on the presbytery of S. Antonio’s in Sestri Levante. Just like for the “Resurrezione” (Resurrection) by Pericle Fazzini in the Nervi’s Hall in Vatican, the thick, tangled web of rough, dried up, semiabstract forms following the rippling tangle of the bush, go along with an upward movement made of shooting forms in the space where the transcentet aspect of the image unfolds the evocative fascination of the material. The work – just like some recent drawings – shows Lustig also as a well-educated sculptor, able to catch formal suggestions evinced and experimented at the edge of that sublimation of the classic world that the artist usually frequents. As a result he gives evidence of the numerous cultural areas of new possible, potential associations.
In the end this confirms that the sculptor from Liguria in a very near future will be ready and tested for more important orders for both private and public works, final seal and logic, conclusive celebration of his skill.
Bologna, December 2005