Archecromie: constructions of space, light, and colour
According to an ancient and still applicable concept, to experience the "beautiful" and therefore art (which follows and represents the beautiful) is to "feel good" about oneself and the world, i.e. beautiful is good ("kalÚs kai agathÚs"). To lose yourself in a magnificent landscape as a violent storm, to listen to music, to contemplate a work of art: these are experiences which can be extreme but also comforting. They provide breaks in our routine, opportunities to recharge and reenergize. They allow us some distance from our often petty problems and the bitterness that often accompanies life. These are experiences which enrich us and expand our horizons. Art has healing properties. Those who know art can understand the magic of the infinite and can embrace the idea that "everything is possible". Art can usher us into a world of freedom and beauty.
Artists who pursue the beautiful - regardless of the language and material they use to express themselves - have the gift of sharing a fantastical world through their intelligence, diversity, inventiveness, sensitivity, generosity, and creativeness. Rosario Tornatore is one of these individuals.
Tornatore's paintings are music, vital energy, and chromatic enchantment; they capture us and lead us into cosmic spaces, to the origin of movement, harmony, and light. The works of Tornatore don't just enchant, they also recharge; they give us energy and enthusiasm, the will to start again, even when our spirit is tired, distracted, and listless.
I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Rosario Tornatore and Clelia in Cerrina, where they reside surrounded by the silence and nature of Monferrato. It is always important to try to get to know the place where an artist works in order to better understand and share the joy of his/her works. The spaces, the silence, the quiet musicality of the place, as well as the discreet but no less powerful and crucial presence of Clelia, these were our introduction to the world of Rosario Tornatore, an artist with a restless personality, telluric, impetuous, determined, radiant, musical, and tempestuous, who finds an outlet for these emotions in his painting. His are compositions which capture us in vortexes of light, bands of colour which cross the canvas like lighting, a cavalcade of rainbows which - while made up of improbable combinations of contrasting colours that in no way respect the rules of the light refraction Ė nonetheless, "work". His paintings create a new vision where harmony, musical structure, breaks, the entire orchestra, a sea of soloist voices, the "pianissimo", "fortissimo", and "pizzicato" dominate the composition.
Even when we take away the joy of colour and focus on one of Tornatore's black and white compositions, there is a perfect harmony between the solid and void, between shadow and light. The musical quality of Tornatore's works is very strong; these are works which have to be listened to. It should come as no surprise then, that Tornatore's mother is not only a painter herself, but also a musician, and that Tornatore has studied and plays the piano.
Passing from one room to another, all of a sudden music becomes material. An unpainted wood sculpture darts out from behind a stack of paintings, followed by a painted sculpture in one of his signature bright colours, and then another one in multi-coloured wood; it is almost as if certain elements from his paintings have abandoned the canvas to try out space in another dimension. These are living creatures which we simultaneously want to caress yet refrain from doing so, fearing that touching them might cause them to change shape and position...
Tornatore is a sculptor who is very sensitive to the relationship with space; it is a sensibility he has cultivated and developed in his work as a stage designer on many important productions.
Tornatore has changed a good deal over the course of his artistic path. Some of these changes have been formal ones, changes not only in style but also ones that reflect different moments of his life. Each change in Tornatore's compositional and pictorial language stems from a different emotional state and happy and dramatic experiences. His life has been filled with satisfaction yet also tragedy; it is through painting that he has been able to dissolve the anxiety and pain, creating dream state compositions, semi surreal, often constructed on wood panels, pale and worn out or gloomy and unsettling.
We find an entirely different kind of atmosphere in the works of recent years, "Cosmocromie", i.e. that of vital positive energy.
Thanks to his daily contact with nature and the energetic release of life in Cerrina - so far removed and different from that of his beloved, suffering, and ever present Acireale - bit by bit Tornatore has abandoned the complex score of the great concert. He paints his symphonies in a less gestural, less instinctive and overwhelming way; now, his search for harmony not only involves representing the emotions, but also reflection and research. This is the context for the creation of the most recent works in this show; works where the chromatic joy of the compositions is guided and contained by the invention of an architecture, a structure which has replaced the "gesture" that dominated the preceding series of paintings, the "Cosmocromie".
The space-light-colour relationship has calmed down, been refined, and deepened. It is a symphony which can now be listened to in the background; it does not have to be played at "full volume" like the "Cosmocromie". Nonetheless, it bewitches us. It is a subtle magic that could not have come any earlier precisely because it is the result of all those years of living, experiencing, researching, going into greater depth, and staying loyal to truth and beauty.
The sculpture has changed too. It is no longer a darting living creature. Now it is a magic space - a prism - that changes with the light. It unfolds in a story that runs a similar but distinct course on each side; like life.