Renato Barilli’s diary

Epiphanic visions of reality

30 APRIL 2017,
Suite Vignola
Suite Vignola

Who has not read an aesthetic or art and literature criticism essay by Renato Barilli? Or has visited an exhibition curated by him? Internationally well-known and active Renato Barilli has curated a lot of exhibitions, some of which are included in the international contemporary art history.

Think, for example about the Opera e comportamento section curated with Francesco Arcangeli at the Venice Biennale in 1972, where a young Gino De Dominicis showed a young man with Down’s syndrome intent on observing some works by De Dominicis. Or the Aperto section at the Venice Biennale in 1990 when he was one of the main supporters of Jeff Koons, in that period married to porn star Cicciolina, who in the Biennale space exhibited the series Made in Heaven based on explicit scenes with her. Do not forget then the Settimane Internazionali della Performance (it is superfluous to mention a scene included in the international collective imagination: Marina Abramovich and Ulay naked on the sides of the front door of the Gallery of Modern Art in Bologna), Anni Ottanta, Anni Novanta, Officina Italia, Officina Europa, etc.

Tireless "decathlete" as he likes to describe himself, Renato Barilli is now a blogger and an artist and recently it has ended a solo exhibition at Caravan Setup spaces in Bologna. Since he retired Renato Barilli "made peace" with that kid who diligently and passionately learned from Arnaldo Gentili the painting technique creating landscapes, interiors, portraits. An appointment with himself as himself says "with a boy little more than ten years who had already taken the habit to paint feverishly more or less in the same way I pain today, keeping a kind of diary of his surroundings, and acquiring considerable practice in water colors and tempera." But among that guy curious to know and learn and Renato Barilli as we know nowadays there are a whole series of experiences that I have tried to summarize in a few lines at the beginning of this article and that allowed him to reconnect to that passion never extinguished with a greater awareness and a maturity of sign, gesture, and trait that allows him to give substances to the images that he collects through the camera of his smartphone.

Modernity has accustomed us to a continuous race towards the new, always and at all costs. And in this sense the avant-garde and neo avant-garde of the twentieth century have accustomed us to think also the cultural and artistic life in the fashion logic liquidating a trend in favor of another claiming simply that it is no longer new, current, original. A frantic race that eventually led us to the present time where it is essential to stop, reflect, meditate, think. The "slowness" against the speed. The slowness that becomes a revolutionary act, a form of resistance, an alternative value.

Barilli says "we have gone far ahead in research, granting us all the freedom, ramblings, dares, bets, but there are still centuries in front of us, as at least we can hope for, and therefore, why not 'cool' the progress, go to deal more closely with the stone guest that is the reality, and that we meet in every corner, through the circumstances in which my training (also literary training) brings me almost inevitably to give the illustrious names of 'epiphanies' according to Joyce or 'opportunities' according to Montale?". In this sense Barilli collecting stereotyped images of reality and playing them back on Fabriano paper with a tempera paint gives a material substance to those subjects redeeming them from the flattening created by the camera. So this is not a mere documentation and recording of reality but "epiphany" visions of a "real" reality that Barilli collects as in a diary, where the public meets the private, the artist meets the critic and there are new opportunities to see and be.

In Renato Barilli’s diary we can find people from the art world like Monica Cuoghi and Claudio Corsello, Pierpaolo Campanini, Nino Migliori, Nanni Menetti, Paola Sega and Alessandro Moreschini; postcards from Bologna, Roma, Urbino, Milano, Cortina; daily life scenes.