P. 10

ugh we can intuit the primal idea with our minds, paradoxicallywe are unable ever
                                    to experience its full essence.

                                    From this frustration, at once cognitive and experiential, springs what was known
                                    to the Romantics as "strehen", the endless striving after the unreachable absolute, a
                                    ceaseless yearning which in Ventrone's approach to his art assumes the aspect of
                                    cynicism, or a kind ofmannered atheism, even an extreme, proclaimed materialism
                                   - promptly contradicted however by the transcendence that his canvases ex.ude. It
                                   is as ifVentrone were intent on denying his own view ofthe world, suffused as it is
                                   with pessimism, precisely by labouring to achieve perfection and beauty, in other
                                   words by creating, right where there should be only ruins, a kind oflong prayer, a
                                   perhaps unconscious katechon slowing the certain destruction of the world, war-
                                    ding offdeath as far as possible and saving things from the entropy ofthe universe,
                                   turning them for ever into art, in other words something resilient and eternal.

                                   We have seen that Ventrone describes himself as an abstract artist, and indeed he
                                    could have painted his works at the opposite end ofthe representational spectrum;
                                    actually, he has very likely clone just that at times, even though he is chiefly intere-
                                    sted in the form ofthings in themselves, then in their colour and brightness. Only
                                   later does he concern himselfwith depicting reality, which is a by-product, albeit of
                                    the very highest quality, of the whole process involved in creating the finished
                                   work: first comes the photograph - increasingly incredible thanks to digital tec-
                                   hnology- that provides extraordinary lighting effects; then the obsessive fastidio-
                                   usness to produce a projected image, which is the least meritorious phase; lastly, the
                                   painstakingjob ofshading, where the artist's peerless skill as a colourist comes into
                                   its own. Indeed, i f the subject is depicted in extreme dose-up - for instance in the
                                    case ofthe pomegranate, a key painting in the exhibition - t h e works lose their con-
                                    nection with reality altogether and turn into arrangements of patches of colour,
                                   just as in classic abstract art or tachisme, albeit displaying higher quality and
                                   greater balance.

                                   Ventrone's long development can be likened to a palindrome that starts from
                                    abstractionism, continues through stages of representational art and returns to
                                    abstraction, with the result that it can therefore be read in either direction.And this
                                    exhibition, like other recent shows organized by Cesare Biasini Selvaggi, who has
                                    conducted a thorough analytical study placing the Roman painter in his historical
                                    context, offers an interesting perspective on the topic. Eschewing a chronological
                                    approach, in both show and catalogue, the retrospective prefers arrangements cho-
                                    sen by assonance or analogy, highlighting the points ofcontact between the vario-
                                   us styles and genres Ventrone has explored during his career and revealing the
                                   recurrence offorms and predilections for certain colours, but always with the same

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