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The Black and the Gold of Filippo Rossi Prof. Giovanni Bonanno Accademy of fine Art, Palermo

The Black and Gold of Filippo Rossi Filippo Rossi’s pictorial creations evoke an abstract existentialism, within which Congdon’s Augustinian memory still pulses, and that restlessness of the ‘short century’, marked by nihilism and ‘hope against hope’, spes contra spem. Rossi is an artist who tends to merge opposites in a formal unity that intrigues the mind and fascinates the spirit??"light piercing the shadows, a blade slicing pitch-smeared matter, creating flashes of life, his work sucks the viewer into the gorge of its enigma, beyond time and space, an epiphanic canvas of the invisible??"of man’s transcendence, of his dark, evil existence pierced by a sudden ray of light. Rossi’s is a kind of painting hitherto unseen, yet ancient. Filippo Rossi is a Tuscan from Florence. Like every Florentine, he is an heir of Dante’s vernacular poetry and of Giotto’s latinizing classicism, open to Caravaggio’s love of contrast and part of the 20th century and of its main actors. With almost monastic interiority he welcomes history and the travail of the human condition, the cry echoing through creation. His vision is not, however, terrifying, seeming rather that of an ascetic??"perhaps that of a John of the Cross who glimpses, in the dark night, a luminous, wavering body in the leaden visual field of Golgotha: an astral body, red-stained in its gilded evanescence, palpitating with pain and love. A sacrament of the Son of Man, an icon of the flesh transfigured: the very flesh that Mary Magdalene would want to embrace in the Easter dawn. Rossi’s painting is cathartic, even if shaped by uneasiness: it has a philosophic and theological dimension, that of the double process from which the ‘I’ of personhood springs, of doubting rationality and the doubt of faith. His space is three-dimensional tar, layered black on black that x-rays human existence and that a white cut, a prick of blood, a flash of gold perforates. And the light revealed descends unexpectedly from on high, bedewing the dark, or rises slowly from earth, ascending toward heaven: an image of the Johannine Logos that penetrates bodies, reawakening to life, transubstantiating flesh into light. Filippo Rossi has arrived at the clarity of abstraction after academic training and a period of wandering in figurative lands. He began with an expressionist realism that soon freed itself of its mannered infrastructure, arriving first at the informality of chromatic impasti moving on geometric planes, and then at a rarefaction of colours which, following Rothko’s lead, liquefy and spread out over vast areas??"a complicated process, pregnant with inner vision, which in Rossi’s recent works has achieved admirable results. In place of his earlier fauve exuberance, there is now a metaphysical silence: deep night and the enchantment of the morning. That is how Rossi’s painting is today, open to secrets thans to his few material colours fecundating unbounded space. In works that are like waving banners in the wind, black and gold are dominant: the black of Ribera and Bufrri, the gold of Byzantium, of simone Martini, of Klimt. Antithetical and complementary, problematic and divinizing, a debate that represents, in the excitement of shadow and light, the everyday reality of existence, the dilemma of drama and of dream. Despair and hope interpenetrate each other: the hell of sin and the paradise of grace. Bold is this pictorial structure that shows, in the gold, the energic theocracy of Ravenna and Monreale, the fairy-tale elegance of Siena and the vitalism of the Vienna Secession, while its black insists on the gloom of a thousand inquisitions and the Nietzschean anguish of the century atomised by Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Rossi’s painting involves us, beckoning and waiting; it shakes us with its silence laden with worries and refusals, with listening and with prayer. It elicits sympathy because honest about the fibrillation of battle and the fragrant lyricism of a heaven disclosing theological horizons. Perhaps two works in particular synthesise the sacred sense of this artist and his immersion in Judeo-Christian mystery. The first is Lux in tenebris, a painting of 2005 that draws its truth from Christian pessimism; the second is Rossi’s Magnificat, of 2008, inebriated with sunlight. Lux in tenebris reveals a beauty tormented by lethal clots, notwithstanding the breakthrough of light; Magnificat reveals an ecstasy within the golden infinity, with rhythmic fragments that dance as they ascend. It is an altarpiece that evokes, from a symbolist point of view, the Sienese Simone Martini and the Florentine Fra Angelico??"in its formal harmony, its classical measure, its Gregorian musicality, its mystical poetry: a work of adoring contemplation, that with Mary’s voice sings of God’s breath on the ocean of grace. That of Filippo Rossi is painting interwoven with citations and with the names of several masters, signifying the ineffable splendour of doubt and of faith. It is art that portrays the face of nothingness, the anguish of man, the sublime presence of the Logos. Pittura subtramata di rimandi ??" quella di Filippo Rossi - dei nomi di alcuni maestri, significante l’indicibile splendore del dubbio e della fede. Dell’arte cioè che ritrae il volto del nulla, l’angoscia dell’uomo, la presenza sublime del Logos. Prof. Giovanni Bonanno Accademy of fine Art, Palermo