Synthesis of classicity and modernity
On entering Villa Bozano Gandolfi, the singular and airy place where Leonardo Lustig’s sculptures are exhibited, you will feel an immediate sense of astonishment. In that place sculpture seem to be as florid as in syntony with plants and hedges around them. Expressiveness unites the various works in marble, cement and bronze: sculptures keep the undying charm for the both elegant and unforgettable Greek and Latin societies, mixed with Etruscan sensitivity and linked to the most exciting modern witnesses (Rodin, Rosso, Martini, Bodini etc.). Here can also be noticed a respectful trace of an important and useful collaboration with Ivan Theimer, a sculptor who does not oppose classicity, but instead makes “antiquity in charming newness” (Giorgio Soavi).
Lustig’s manifest and outward-going research is anthropocentric: Man acts as a witness in the universe matters, and acts as a “trait d’union” in his formative itinerary, characterized since the beginning by a creative continuity which is prolific and undeniable. No arrests have been recorded up to now, the everyday modelling is faced with new strength, which aims at a personal stamp of genius. The task is reached thanks to a total synthesis of classicity and modernity in the various materials used each time. The author’s constructive and satisfying dialogue with materials appears in some precious works, which can be assumed as evidence of the balance between emptiness and solid, light and dark, form and material. The characters’ naturalness is the sculptor’s aim: he wants his works to be so pure in their look to seem alive. Lustig’s most meaningful results are reached in Madonna con bambino (Mother and Child), slightly bent over as if going towards something. Not the admirable success in the action representation, but the sweet transparency in everlasting emotions is what the author really seeks. Analyzing this and other works does not mean focusing on external details, but noticing and emphasizing the great tension in them. This tension, peculiarly shaped ,creeps limpidly in modern art ,without furious turnabout and without forgetting the trails of early times’ reflexion about sculpture.
We are before an important proposal, whose analysis checks our sensitiveness in supporting Leonardo Lustig’s artistic inclination. In Lustig’s works, in fact, his inclination is made concrete thanks to a great artistic vitality. Furthermore, the verist traditions’ echoes, pointed out in exemplar portraits, do not contrast with descriptive component’s subduing. This descriptive component pervades a group of sculptures, which are marked with a very quick modelling and a preserved constructive solidity. Between the author’s targets is the desire to stir up an intimate atmosphere, which is sometimes dramatised by exploiting the expressive and communicative potency of the material. This is evident in softly stylized works.Those kinds of considerations struck us suddenly while admiring L’innocente (The Innocent), a sculpture in patinated cement which praises a convincing milestone of Lustig’s naturalistic ups and downs, exalted by a classicist tendency.
The holy theme is also weighty and is faced as a chance of responsability: the artist, combining volumes with spaces, finds in light the ideal and irreplaceable ally to his work. Spirit takes place in substance and frees extraordinary and peaceful feelings towars the Absolute.These feelings are noticed in works like Il roveto ardente (The Burning Bush), in S. Antonio church in Sestri Levante; the work is gifted with energy and ruled by a conscious broad-mindedness to faith. The sculptor lets the materials represent slender and flowing agreements, begotten by pondered composite forms, aiming at affirming both the christian message and the truths of the creation.
Leonardo Lustig’s pursuit in the figurative sphere frees itself from ridondance and privileges wise plastic solutions visibility. This is the task that guides step-by-step the artist’s young and dense way, in which can be noticed a coherent and strict line, sticking in linking the shape with the different characters: in patinated cement (Fanciulla in riposo -Resing Girl, Figura -Figure, Modello per concentrazione -Model for concentration, Pescatore – Fisherboy, Abramo – Abraham), in marble (Prigione – Prison, Concentrazione – Concentration, In ascolto – Listening), in stone (Figura – Figure, Fanciullo – Child), in bronze (Ballerina – The ballet dancer, Fanciulla – Girl, Il giocatore di scacchi – The chess player, Lettore – Reader, Madonna della Guardia – The Guard’s Mother), in terra-cotta (Bustino – Little bust, Ritratto – Portrait, Madonna con Bambino – Mother and Child).
I do think that every artist always leaves a trace of his self and that his works often hold significant autobiographical references: doubts, questions, regrets, interior starts, sentimental hints are guarded in them. They follow their creator’s existence, who will never give up their paternity. Sculpture, as Arturo Martini put it, because he did want it in his solid self-criticism, is a live language that cannot be worn out by the time, and can transmit both emotions and existential uneasiness: it asserts openly the social value of artistic inclination made real by creative activity. Man, called to promote a new humanism in such an uncertain period, recognizes art as the only way to give beauty to the world, and with beauty, joy and admiration. Leonardo Lustig, with his passionate work, deals with beauty, social and spiritual values and takes part in this process, which aids above all those who can feel astonished before laboriousness of “great beauty creators”.
La Spezia, November 2005