Agostino De Romanis occupies a place of strong relief in the painting of the late twentieth century and the early years of the present century. He is one of the leading exponents of Pittura Colta, a movement founded by the art critic Italo Mussa in 1980. His works are permanently located in some international museums including the Gedung Arsip National in Jakarta, the Rudana Museum in Bali, San Salvatore in Lauro in Rome. His works are also at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Contemporary Art Collection of the Farnesina; at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, the monumental Complex of S. Michele at Ripa Grande; at the monumental Complex of Santa Maria dell'Orto in Rome.
In the works of De Romanis the poetic and lyrical content merges throughout the plastic plant, implemented with lucidity until the ‘unfinished’, with a completely personal technique ‘at transparencies’. In the colours of human figures, but also of landscapes, the artist has condensed real images, but seen with enchanted eyes. Mysterious figures stand out against nature, building shadows and perspective planes, volumes, voids, enigmas. The operation of our painter is the recovery of art as a recognizable sign of the global image, it is the encounter-clash between pure art and message. But that his recourse to landscapes and human figures, as to institutional scenes that still live a time without time, more than in the ‘time of memory’, produces a new humanism that infuses a melancholy of the spirit, towards the lost harmony of childhood.
In this way the artist supports a ‘classic’ conviction, I would say Vitruvian, that harmony is inherent in nature and that for this reason it represents the ordering principle of the world.
In Agostino's works, created starting from the seventies, we can observe the derivation of the great stereometric forms of art. Among them there are some ‘open’ compositions that appear as dilated, and others ‘closed’, whose structure is made up of the faceted elements of the pre-established plans. Starting from them the painter arrives at volumes drawn less and less clearly, up to the creation of spaces and figures with the drafting of the only colour spread ‘tone on tone’ and ‘veiling on veiling’, in a way that can be considered art concrete.
In these works the creative imagery of De Romanis is enriched with ghosts who live in his tormented vision of reality, however there is no anger towards the injustices and weaknesses of the world, but instead we find the most contemplative and solitary part, I dare say romantic, of a painter who succeeds in sublimating landscapes and fairy-tale figures.
Light and the inner light
To reconstruct the damaged fabric of reality into the image, the master uses natural light and the secret light of man, in order to illuminate the overall sense of things. Because Agostino carries the light, which is the primary source of all that is visible, inside himself.
In the entire production of De Romanis, light flows greatly, capable of purifying the image from the dark. And the artist appears in his real capacity to evoke forms from the ancient world and to invest them with new life now appealing to the evocative landscape visions that find a graft of great value in what constitutes the fundamental nucleus of this art: the light.
De Romanis works for and within this element; which is not a totally natural constituent since it is an invention dictated by its sensitivity. It is a soft but liquid light that flows slowly in upward flows and flows back into those real or illusory spaces, creating different points of view and focal centres in its passage, to illuminate the complexity of the observer's psyche.
This ability springs from an innate sensitivity, from a technical and artistic mastery, from a long professional and human experience in Italy and Indonesia. And it was precisely in this country of sun and sea that he sought out those fanciful colours of the sky, of water, of joy and sadness that is in the existing itself, perpetual praise to the earth and nature, making our man a missionary of the art. De Romanis paints with a strong attention to the content considering painting a way to express himself, projecting himself towards a new metaphysical dimension that goes beyond the object represented and the precise vision of reality. His works manifest a profound psychological investigation beyond figures and surfaces, beyond shapes and colours, through highly personal and significant languages capable of moving emotions.
The artist has transposed his feelings into the memory deposits, drawing a new poetic outlined by a personal linguistic variation. When these signals begin to take shape, the artistic impulse begins to be felt, that light network of ideas that unstoppably flows through the folds of the overabundant reality.
Yet the interpretive reading offered by the master in his recent works remains meaningful, meaningfully entitled: In defense of love (2004, triptych), Behind the forms are revealed (2012), Vertical evolution of Five (2012). These are dreams, inventions, symbols, fairy tales, that is, ‘creative acts’ developed in the subconscious that have little to do with reality.
In his recent production, evocative faces and silhouettes of mysterious characters, gods, eyes, heroes, restless idols, hidden for centuries down beneath the earth, emerge, where light gushes out of all shadows and purifies the image from darkness. The distinction between figuration and abstraction is often imperceptible, sometimes entrusted only to sensitivity.
The master's research is based on the interpretation of the reality of things, revisited according to a mental scheme developed to express sensations and allusions on the thread of a pictorial sensitivity imbued with light that mediates the emotional tension with the rationality of a structural order.
And the artist appears in his real capacity to evoke ghosts from the ancient world and to invest them gradually with different personalities, now appealing to the evocative landscape visions that find a graft of great value in what constitutes the fundamental nucleus of this painting: the light full unfiltered, metaphysical, to illuminate the complexity of the images, creating in its passage different points of view, new focal centres. In this game of interventions, De Romanis captures the forms to which he succeeds in giving the illusion of plasticity.
The technique used in the series of recent works is above all the oil on relined paper, in order to achieve the desired tones, which combined with an unconventional use of colour and light makes the surface ‘coloristic’, with fluid brushstrokes and spreads of colour given in veiling.
De Romanis to the town of ‘Anzio Imperiale’
The works created by Agostino De Romanis in the last two or three years have been presented for the first time to the public and critics in an exhibition in the prestigious Museo Civico Archeologico in Anzio (from 14 to 27 April 2019). These convey a mixture of synthesis of previous experiences and estrangement, which however still reveal the intact faculty of empathy and the desire to sink into the contemporary human condition of the artist.
All his painting is in fact a continuous reflection and immersion in the Other from Himself (men and their gestures inserted in nature), it is enough to observe Towards the light of heaven (2018) or On the path of life (2018) to realize that in the paintings there is always something that cannot be seen but that nevertheless allows us to participate in the reflections of the master and to take part in the magic that makes the heart levitate and savour with the force of a desire all the fragrance that the canvas emanates.
Works like Nove piccole cupole (2017) or Non pescatemi (2017) remain extraordinary and prophetic, where a dull melancholy, without tears or smiles, warns you by putting your eye on the details. But here in other works, as Volgeranno lo sguardo (2018), we can see the unexpected apparition that allows us to fantasize about the sudden Agostino De Romanis's works of the last season are therefore placed on the thin ridge that separates reality from dream and appear to have fallen into a suspended and absorbed dimension on which letters, words, sentences, phrases, which move like ancient epigraphs engraved on the marble together with rare and undefined presences, articulate a mysterious literary and coloristic metric, transmitting a powerful emotional resonance and returning moments of memory and reminiscence.