Massimo Kaufmann and Maria Morganti
A project by Associazione Giovanni Testori
4 April – 11 May 2014
THAT EMBRACE OF COLOURS
It is true that the two camellias in the garden bloom while the radiators are still on.
Saying spring at Casa Testori means reopening doors that have never been closed, setting up a new exhibition around the beating heart of the two associations that animate it.
While work is being done on future exhibitions, guided tours and events, more and more artists are taking turns to peek into their rooms for a new Giorni Felici that is just around the corner. And it is surprising that, once again, some of them compete for the desk with the current thesis student or PhD student to consult the archive of photographs and writings on Giovanni Testori.
Opening this House to the contemporary is also proving to be the most effective way to send Testori’s work into circulation, bringing it to where artistic life is pulsating and enthusiastically discovering or rediscovering it, giving rise to a host of unexpected Testorians. Everything happens naturally, without the need for commissions or suggestions, just let the artists walk through these twenty rooms, only apparently empty.
This exhibition is the result of an elaboration carried out over several years by two artists united by a profound visual syntony who have created a tenaciously desired project, born for these rooms. Massimo Kaufman, author of an important interview with Testori back in 1986 and protagonist of Giorni Felici in its first edition, has called together leading artists from the Italian figurative scene for a room destined to surprise and enchant.
Maria Morganti investigated one of Testori’s most important books, Il gran teatro montano (The Great Mountain Theatre), discovering with the critic a profound harmony that goes far beyond appearances – Testori was one of the fiercest defenders of figurative painting – drawing on that deep level of “object colours” traced by Testori in the work of Gaudenzio Ferrari and Tanzio da Varallo, in which words and colour, writing and painting are indissolubly embraced.
The project, conceived specifically for Giovanni Testori’s home, saw the two artists occupy the ground floor with distinct projects, which interpenetrated in moments of contact and confrontation.
Massimo Kaufmann chose to recreate a winter garden, a choral site-specific work created with the collaboration of Stefano Arienti, Marco Cingolani, Giovanni Frangi, Andrea Mastrovito, Fulvia Mendini, Katja Noppes, Michela Pomaro and Massimo Uberti, who were asked to paint the walls of one of the rooms. Each artist, following the guidelines indicated by Kaufmann, drew a strip of wall without knowing the ones next to it, following the example of the cadavre exquis, the famous surrealist game.
Maria Morganti drew her inspiration from Giovanni Testori’s Il gran teatro montano and the descriptions of Tanzio da Varallo’s and Gaudenzio Ferrari’s works at Sacro Monte di Varallo. Starting from these points of reference, the artist worked on the comparison between written colour and painted colour, between word and work, through a careful analysis of the text that gave rise to an intense stratification, in which it becomes difficult to define whether the text preceded the painting or vice versa. The result of this process was a sedimentation of oil veils on canvases, papers and sculptures in rhodochrosite and travertine, which occupied the main hall and the veranda of the house.