When bread was made in almost all homes and, as a rule, it was baked once a week, a piece of the dough was put aside, covered with a damp cloth and stored away in the cupboard. That piece of living material continued to ferment in the dark and formed the yeast necessary for the following week’s dough.
So, not only in an ideal sense but as a matter of fact, each new loaf contained the DNA of all the bread that had preceded it. A molecular kinship therefore bound the present to the past and that germinal and archetypal element was the most crucial factor for the best bread, freshly baked daily.
This culinary practice, now lost in peasant houses, continues to be a metaphor for art and life. Memory is the starter yeast of our present day and, even in its unstoppable decomposition process, it contin-ues to give essential vital stimuli to new actions, to new ideas.
Just knowing this is sufficient to be able to say that no work of art flourishes without a bulb, without a root that keeps it in touch with a genealogy of many other works.
Sometimes this genetic inheritance is evident, to the point of becoming similar. In other cases, his-tologic sampling is needed to understand the affil-iation, but each artist has an army of fertile gener-ations behind him, and to some extent he has to conquer a lineage that can never be assumed. Yet art continues to live with an inextinguishable nostalgia, which has always appeared to us to be a lack, like a void, and which, however, must be understood as a sense of belonging.
We belong to a time (as well as to a place) that, in its accomplishment, is united with all of the past. Perhaps it is the energy of the present that bakes and cooks the new bread, that stops that millennial process of fermentation of matter, fixing the dough into a transformed substance and marking an ideal point in time and space.
ART THAT REMEMBERS THE FUTURE
Each painting is a meaningful object that tells an experienced history or a metaphor, a sacred affair or an allegory, that sets the scene for pure contem-plation or attempts to imitate a piece of nature. A painting always contains an indefinite amount of thoughts, more or less understandable, that are kneaded together with the chromatic material. In that blend of chemistry and physics, of technique and know-how, are all the reflections and intentions that the author has developed during execution, as well as other unconscious factors induced by histo-ry and geography.
Whether they are simple, absent minded, or com-plex thoughts arrived at through labyrinthine theo-ries, they are, in any case, equivalent to seeds stored in an urn, which continue to have potential fertility. This miraculous property makes art a vehicle through centuries and generations that can survive the mutations of taste and culture to give us a valu-able sense of feeling and sentiment.
So, when contemporary art relates to significant ob-jects of an earlier age, it is as if it is trying to use the starter yeast.
Sometimes it is not even necessary that a modern work is intentionally in dialogue with an ancient one to trigger explosions or introduce new blooms. As with aerial dissemination, a temporal pollination, the sense of art branches out and intermingles feelings that still produce kinship elements, degrees of sep-aration and proximity.
In this exhibition, there are several types of asso-nance. Some living artists chose to deal with an explicit thematic or stylistic relationship, for others picking up the harmonic sound of a shape or colour was enough to cause a vibration between the two works.
But the conceptual stratification of this experiment encounters further reading levels, being the result of the dialogue between a great antique Italian gallery and a young contemporary art gallery.
Giorgio Baratti made his collection of paintings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries available, while the Aria Art Gallery invited some artists to participate in the experiment. I myself had the experience and the pleasure of coordinating this together with An-drea Guastavino and Antonio Budetta. Relationships of being between works that already existed were found but, but new pieces were also created, specifically designed on the theme of the Timelessness project.
The reasons that make ancient works contemporary and alive, which allow them to continue to release spores and meanings, are similar to and mirrored in those that bring reminiscences of past ages into modern paintings, that familiar flavour that is able to adhere to our memory, making it vibrate, as if it were a tuning fork.