The province hides behind the betrayals of the beauty of things and the pleasures of the eyes. The green valleys, the lakes and rivers, the plains and the hilly bustles with their habits, their festivals and fairs, the saints and the Virgin Maries, all of this have given way to a mixture where signs and signals are blurred among the peripheral and rural territories, vulgarize –which, as history demands, is a translation into known languages– and blend into the contradictory images that suits the province. Although silences or the chirping of cicadas heard close to the dumps or nearby the logistic districts can give coarse memories of some kind of gaieties, the province has always lived its historical bovarism: to stay where one is, dreaming the beyond of the territory, past the natural and mental landscapes, and to reproduce its own spaces, with its own dreams and nightmares which characterize the eternal “isolation” of these places.
Therefore, the horizons of fields, hills, rivers and coasts become borders together with the thresholds of the houses, the curled asphalt of the state roads that crosshatch the landscape. Inside their borders, real and mental territories fold back on themselves, they tighten and reinvent their images, dreaming of themselves. Where the gaze rests we find the obsessions which inhabit the real province, the one marginalized and rewritten by the persistence of bucolic narratives and their rural life with its tourism.
These territories defined as “province” are many things together: they oscillate among claustrophobia and claustrophilia, they are plural territories. For this reason the “provincial” imaginary is overloaded by signs and signals, it is a hodgepodge and it seethe of proto-Pascolinian childs and Bianciardian workers, of violence, fatigues, and chronic recreational time.
They are kaleidoscopic visions which, if we want, can remember the mirages of the heat on the provincial roads, when the asphalt pitches as the lake when the ferries pass. They are composed by stickers on motorcycle fairings, graffiti and inflated writings representing parties and local movements on the long derelict walls of logistic districts; they are itinerant carny and posterized faces that depicts “mondine”, the rice worker, among exotic lions and gunslingers from the Far West; they are flags and weathercocks waving on boats and tractors which parade in countries of vague agricultural memory, as well as compound rows of boats and buoys in lakes and rivers, carrying old and heavy effigies of six-fingered saints. The practices of Roberto Alfano and Oliviero Fiorenzi meet each other in these areas.
To begin with, the practice of graffiti was a commonplace in which the artists have elaborated the relationship between painting and its surfaces, its exhibition, the praised display, upon which signs went together with the landscape, leaved to the action of time and its ruined walls, broken glasses, abandoned factories and whatever surfaces were capable to manifest a form of recurrence within the landscape. It was from this common ground that the artists begun to differentiate their practices.
Roberto Alfano has immersed himself in the atmosphere of the imaginary of these places, with their redundancy which nurtured among the fields and took root slowly in those who walked through them as a child. We are talking about the initial pop imaginary on which the artist has focussed for years, about the redundancies of signs which have innervated the province: from the Lega to nutrias till the “classicism” of the bare sheds and so on. Roberto’s work is concerned with the obsession of sign, the recurrence of experience in those spaces which seems closed, tight between fields and fogs. In the gaze that hangs a few meters away, it is easy to lose rationality and be deceived, and Roberto’s practice is the one that refers to the inner space occupied by the symbols, figures and characters which this blurred landscape produces. They are the memories which fade in the horizon and sediment nearby, they are the mirage of the gaze, where toys and childish attitudes come to life, with their dreams and delusions which are then a mixture of wars and classicisms, rainbows and tanks.
On the other hand, Oliviero Fiorenzi’s work starts from the real territory. He works with the environmental, climate and temporal action with which the open space connotates its surfaces. The air pierces and makes noise in the surrounding landscapes, it moves the mist at the edge of the horizon, and what is needed are signals. The research of Oliviero focuses on the relationship between the pictorial gesture and the meaning of signals, a practice which represent the landscape as a visual sign, as the parlance of a language painted in everything is allowed to eyes: buoys, turrets, carpets, weathercock; for Oliviero, territories display languages, they are structures of language. His work could be understood as an objectual cartography, or an orientation practice which read a wired alphabet written by a promenade; but, more cynically, it can be seen also as a result of the idea of property imposed by signs, with its flags, placards and fencings. So that his work is to make landscape, to provide tools to read the space in the recurrence of the pictorial signs that territories carry with them; signals which become autonomous with the noise of the wind and the havoc produced by the pounding water and blades of grass.