Those who go to contemporary art exhibitions and galleries, when leaving, cannot suppress a certain unease.
You can usually see very pleasant things ( mainly about sculpture). The contemporary sculptors do not certainly lack originality or ideas: you can often find a great sensitivity for the methods; the techniques used to raise the gravity force of matter to a symbolic expression are surprising. However, only rarely you can live the experience of an internal enrichment: the one you feel before ancient sculptures and not only the famous ones. You are more or less involved in the intellectual sphere, you look more with the theoretical than the physical eye, the experience does not involve the whole individual.
Many works of art exhibited by our managers of art galleries and artists show clear signs of what is “desired”. We can see interesting, funny and often extremely refined shapes that however lack the internal need that is the only one that can satisfy us.
A century looking for new expressive forms led art to a “cul-de-sac”: everywhere you can feel the desperate tension of the artist towards the realisation of his self, while you keep on losing the naivety, the strength, the immediacy. The revolutionary representation of the internal space is lost in mathematical-geometrical shapes and does not come out of the compelling reality of the bursting into a new artistic dimension.
The artistic direction of contemporary art shape in its whole is conventional and autonomous and does not possess the original impulses.
Isn’t it necessary to stop and to look around?
I was encouraged to do so during a journey in Italy, when I saw the work of a young artist. His name is Leonardo Lustig, he was born in Italy but from a German family. By chance I came across his modest exhibition in Portofino and went in. The feeling that came from his work had something unusual. You immediately realised it was a complete intimate world. Nothing was exciting or provocative, but each work inspired a deep observation, because there was something to see. I was impressed by the material he used (stone, bronze, terracotta, slate and marble). His heads sculptured in different kinds of stone, his female faces just hinted, the small bronze figures meant as studies of the traditional human figure, slate or terracotta high relief and bas-relief had the unmistakable signs of manual work that is the solid base of his artistic efforts.
You can immediately understand that for him the work is more important than a forced originality.
Even if his works do not always reach the expression of his ideas however, from his hands something valid and pleasant always comes for the observer. Since we are both flesh and soul, a product that aims to get rid of the material and be realised only in a psychological dimension, cannot completely satisfy us. Leonardo tries to create a synthesis of the two poles. He does not forget the starting point, as unfortunately today often happens, but he reacts against the danger of art by getting further away from its origins and by being only understood with theoretical eye and ear. With this choice, he is walking with a healthy instinct along a good path for our time: restoring the link with work, art acquires its original tension with which it can lift man from everyday distraction to a more intense life reality.
Berlin, May 2002.