Sergio Risaliti, Serendipity, initiatory journey through the remains of civilization, catalogo della mostra / exhibition catalogue, Skira Editore, Fondazione Stelline, Milano.

Posted on Luglio 18, 2014


Initiatory journey through the remains of civilization

Sergio Risaliti

“discoveries … they were not in quest of”

(Horace Walpole)

“Chance favours only the prepared mind”

(Louis Pasteur)

In the Lion’s Den

Serendipity is a magical-sounding word. It might be the name of a princess sleeping in a glass casket, of a castle in a mysterious land, the last bastion of a good and just people, or perhaps the formula for recapturing lost youth. This musical word is one of the most beautiful in the English language and also one of the most difficult to translate. It is the knack of finding wonderful things by chance. It is when diverse things that might seem insignificant and unrelated join together to create a pleasant conclusion, a happy coincidence. The word comes from an exotic locale: Sri Lanka, once known as Serendip. From there the term “serendipity” made its roundabout way into the English vocabulary via the Arabic Sarandib, which traces its roots to the Sanskrit Simhaladvipa, meaning “dwelling-place-of-lions island”. Indeed, the lion is the symbol of Sri Lanka, featured at the centre of the national flag.

The word was first used in the English language by the writer Horace Walpole (1717-1792). In a letter to Horace Mann dated 28 January 1754, Walpole confessed that he had found the word in the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, where the protagonists “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of”. In a few lines, Walpole described the magical and surprising character of the discovery: “I once read a silly fairy tale, called ‘The Three Princes of Serendip;’ as their Highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of: for instance, one of them discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had travelled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right—now do you understand Serendipity? One of the most remarkable instances of this accidental Sagacity, (for you must observe that no discovery of a thing you are looking for comes under this description,) was of my Lord Shaftsbury, who, happening to dine at Lord Chancellor Clarendon’s, found out the marriage of the Duke of York and Mrs. Hyde, by the respect with which her mother treated her at table.”

Backwards in Time

Unlike in the past, the conceptual and expressive faculties of contemporary humanity, the very practice of art, seem to be conditioned by an unpredictable game of combinations of heterogeneous information, experiences and images that are arranged in a non-hierarchical manner without distinctions of time or place. We live in an eternal present dominated by images. The future has suddenly been compressed against the present, which turns back and stretches into a borderless past. At the beginning of the new millennium, the history of art thus began to advance by proceeding backwards. After several centuries of more or less linear progress, the artist’s horizon was no longer the unexplored future, but rather time that had been, which was gradually revealed as being entirely to rediscover. Historicized models, exemplary deeds, convincing images could be exhumed from this relatively remote past. Experiences with which to identify could be found and used as starting points for stopping the flow of visual communication and recognizing the world in which we exist.

This phenomenon was accentuated with the advent of the Internet. In its present time, its immediate and continuous connectivity, millions of bits of visual information unfold before our eyes and superimpose themselves upon reality, obliterating any distinction between past and future, here and elsewhere, truth and appearance, originality and simulation. In this new dimension of virtual time-and-space we may chance to stumble across glorious and sublime ruins, and we are increasingly likely to come up with remains or fragments of bygone civilizations, images from remote times and distant spaces, traces of other cultures, some on the way to extinction, some already vanished for millennia, techniques and practices that are still effective and convincing. The real and the imaginary, the exotic and the surreal, the large and the small all crowd in before our gaze with no clear delimitations. True and false contaminate each other, becoming spectacularly indistinguishable. Everything becomes familiar to us, even if it remains unknown and not directly experienced.

Déjà Vu

Every semiotic sign or image exists in the immediate present of the network, the vast archive of planetary memory, available to all at all times and in all places across the surface of the earth. Everything is present, past and future are compressed into the dimension of the web, where all of culture is reduced to games and wares. There is no sign or datum that is not characterized, perceived and exploited as a relic, as déjà vu. And so we live in a constant state of half-slumber, between dreams and image-rich storytelling. The underpainting of the past is suddenly lit up with acid colours. We are not able to distinguish where we are, who we are, or in what time we are living. We are at the mercy of the network. All of our actions and experience, our imagery, depend on it.

In the best of cases, artists reject this nihilistic perspective and seek physical experience of truth to validate their existence in the world, their belonging to history, to give certainty to an emotion that is their own before getting lost among millions of other beings in the daily nothingness of mass communication. They can do it using a movie camera, materials suitable for sculptural representation, traditional colours and pigments. But the gap between art and creativity narrows. As the linear representation of history falters and fails, so does the hierarchical idea, the social pyramid, which provided guidance in drawing the line of demarcation in our culture between art and non-art, art and creativity, the work of a genius and the production of a dilettante. The making of art is considered exclusively in anthropological terms as a need for expression of the human race. Ontological questions regarding the meaning or destiny of art, of the sort “What use are poets in times of need?” seem not to pertain to the art system, which is oriented in a quite different direction, where a notion prevails of art as experience and of the work of art as a symptom of socio-cultural reality.

At this point, after the massive importation of western models—particularly those produced and consumed starting in the 1960s—and after the exaltation of the conceptual and the artificial, a change of course allows the new protagonists of the art system to turn to their own traditions and histories, their own iconographies and artisanal techniques. In many cases faith is placed in the wisdom of the hands, so that expressions and landscapes can be physically lived with the body, one’s imagination can be unleashed, casting off aesthetic prejudices and out-dated values. In other parts of the planet, artists have engaged in increasingly unscrupulous and virulent confrontations with the art of the past, proposing to free the time-honoured iconographies from the mythical or ideological values on which they depended. The images of Christianity, of Renaissance portraiture, of the heroes and gods of the most mythical past ended up at the heart of these attacks—at times surreal, at times paradoxical, marked by sarcasm and derision. There is no painting genre, aesthetic category or period of art history that has not been targeted, set upon, eviscerated, emptied of meaning and then proposed anew uprooted from its original context after a meticulous deconstruction of the values and meanings it had embodied. Stripped of their genetic memory, these images, symbols and forms were sent to invade the market, offering some modicum of novelty and surprise. However, albeit with altered semiotics, skin and proportion, lost meaning, and forgotten original social context, the original managed to preserve its iconic identity and universal acclaim. The history of art thus made up lost time in an effort to reassure the markets, putting off the end of the avant-garde for a few more seasons.

Faits divers

In the meantime, “the taking of a photograph ceased to be a ritual and became a ‘reflex’” (J. Berger, About Looking, Bloomsbury 2009, p. 53). No more mystery. Photography ceased producing ghosts, and painting lost its aura. The reason for this loss of substance and duration is perhaps found in the loss of photography’s power. It consigned its throne and sceptre to the Internet. Thanks to digital reproduction, the web engulfed into its mega-brain the entire memory of the camera obscura, the ability to capture the phantoms and particles of real worlds that gave printed photographs their aura of mystery and darkroom work its magic. Susan Sontag expressed things in these terms: “Through photographs, the world becomes a series of unrelated, free-standing particles; and history, past and present, a set of anecdotes and faits divers. The camera makes reality atomic, manageable, and opaque. It is a view of the world which denies interconnectedness, continuity, but which confers on each moment the character of a mystery.” (Susan Sontag, quoted in J. Berger, ibid.). The Internet, on the other hand, forces upon us a continual connection between the space of images and that of experience. It has obliterated, in an even more excessive manner than photography, all mystery. It reconnects in a media bubble that which had been fragmented. It takes time and space, everything that is real and everything that is imaginary, past and future and renders them continuous and transparent, obscene and overabundant. Our gaze now finds no reality, either in the eternalized image of painting or sculpture, or in the atomized and phantasmal qualities of the first photographs. All that is sacred and mysterious has come to an end. The aura has ceased to be. All we are left with is the endless multiplication of reproductions and stimuli, with no separation between planetary and individual memory, between the language of the unconscious and that of the web.

Everything is accelerated; everything is multiplied. A flood of images, a chaotic overabundance of imageries seems to have taken the place of the organized encyclopaedia, of the theatres of the world, of the systems of representation of classical civilization. Photographs in the digital age have become countless, multimedia technological tools have put humanity in the position of existing to reproduce, to consume the experience right now and share it instantaneously with millions of other web users. The market exploits this desperate and irrational attempt to reconcile the self with the universe, the particular with the general, personal awareness with the cultural production of one’s times. There is a reason for all this. Susan Sontag explains the initial success of photography in these terms: “A capitalist society requires a culture based on images. It needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anaesthetize the injuries of class, race and sex. And it needs to gather unlimited amounts of information, the better to exploit the natural resources, increase productivity, keep order, make war, give jobs to bureaucrats. The camera’s twin capacities, to subjectivize reality and to objectify it, ideally serve these needs and strengthen them. Cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the workings of an advanced industrial society: as a spectacle (for masses) and as an object of surveillance (for rulers). The production of images also furnishes a ruling ideology. Social change is replaced by a change in images.” (J. Berger, ibid., pp. 59-60)

Redeeming Randomness

In a society that is increasingly manipulated by technological systems for making reproductions and of mass consumption, it is as if the future—a necessary and founding premise for any pure and hard-core avant-garde movement—had dissolved and then crystallized in a cyclical folding of the present into the past and vice versa. Aesthetic imagery has become the most attractive commodity for the global market, offered as the sole symbolic alternative and dominant creative activity to a humanity seized by an ever increasing need to express itself and consume. Up until the past century, the continuity of art was guaranteed by a reiterated search for models lying in the new, coming from the future, whose recognition and appreciation depended on the artist’s determination in leaving behind all previous history, annulling any stylistic or formal precedent, denying even the technique, gestures and materials with which the historicized masterpieces in museums of fine arts were created.

In our day, on the other hand, the linear time of the avant-garde movements has come to an end and the continuity of art is ensured by its history, by the fact that artists can develop models or practices starting from the forms of the past. The prolongation of the “death of art” and the “end of the avant-garde” thus generated strange couplings between Modernism and Postmodernism. In recent years new instances of hybridized forms surface with increasing prominence, forcing us to modify the dichotomies of figurative and non-figurative, conceptual and symbolic, real and abstract, surrealism and naturalism. The doors are thrown open to dilettantism, to borderline aesthetics. The rarefied geometries of abstract thinking are exalted with the same sense of urgency. We see this in video reproduction, in sculpture, in photography and in painting, which goes back to being practiced with particular interest for materials and chromatics, as an idiom suitable for recovering images from the past and endowing them with aura and mystery. It is a genre of artistic expression that has nothing of the kitsch in it, and cannot be confused with the more obsolete, degenerated and commercial practices of pop-mania.

These practices make it possible to get away from the shoals of Modernism, which for a number of seasons has been reduced to sterile repetitions of what has already been historicized as an idiom antithetical to figurative appropriation and narrative art. They allow us to rediscover an iconographic vitality, a sort of pleasure in making art—from the symbolic and narrative to the conceptual and abstract—so as not to remain mired in the lifeless linguistic analysis of forms and behaviours, without having to fall back on nostalgic appropriations from the history of art, in a naturalism or idealism that no longer has any connection with objective reality.

Mental Discipline and the Pleasure of Painting

“I am attracted to the connection of incongruous elements, to the accumulation of contradictions that interbed and lie atop one another without getting mixed up together,” writes Andrea Zucchi in a brief unpublished text titled Autodafé. This is his artistic quest. Exploit connections with the deeper layers of collective or personal memory, be attracted by a particular image, associate it with something else, another reproduction, a memory, a thought, resuscitate it in painting, enliven it with colour, delimit its metaphysical limits with geometrical marks and fields. The interplay of happy coincidences reactivates the imagination, generating a new view of things, of the world, of the history of art. In an ideal and material confrontation with the masters of the past, Zucchi recovers the moral tension and the proper urge to redeem the practice of painting as a tool for getting to know the world: “The stylistic currents have to transform, get contaminated and be born again in new forms if they are not to stagnate in sterile repetitions. With ranks of epigones now continuing to propose, with a semblance of novelty, issues that were already delineated by the avant-garde movements of the past century, I find it more compelling to once again take up themes relating to realistic representation, with all the attendant risks of failure. I increasingly feel the need to achieve an equilibrium without emphasis, a mediated composure that belongs in an exemplary way to the spirit—now quite alien to us—of classicism. With humility, detachment and without nostalgia, I go back to look at Titian, Velázquez, Rembrandt and onward up to Manet and Degas as if I were observing Egyptian or Etruscan art. And the impulses I receive from those sober, rich and structured languages are still extraordinarily intense, vital and absolutely modern, more than any of the jargons, fleeting and often already dated, that have followed one another in the past few decades” (A. Zucchi, “Tuttavia qualcosa non quadra”, in White Lines, exhibition catalogue edited by I. Quaroni, Galleria Annovi, Sassuolo 2005).

Zucchi’s attraction to painting emerges from the analysis of forms, compositional geometries, the language of colours, aware of the vanity and uselessness of a return to order, of the absolute iconographic fragility innate to most academic appropriation. The work does not assume determinate form out of nothing, or via a substantial zeroing of preceding values—as in the case of the avant-garde movements—, it emerges laboriously from the chaos of history, chaos deployed through the systems of reproduction and communication. In this condition of suffered self-affirmation, creativity survives the death of art, or its Postmodern degeneration (appropriation galore), thanks to the random arrangement of the imagery, drawn by the connections, which produces new and strange coincidences between different and distant things, both in time (history) and space (geography). Luca Beatrice had already noted this in 2008: “Zucchi’s painting is founded on the obsession with iconographic and formal investigation. Things go well together not because they might mean the same thing, but because of their structural or chromatic affinity, starting from denotative elements that only later can become connotative” (L. Beatrice, “Un classicista in cerca di imprevisti”, in Spaesamenti, exhibition catalogue, Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo 2008, p. 19).

It is a form of realism: Zucchi elaborates the perceptions of the world in a stratified manner, not in a visceral or imaginative direction, as happened in surrealist painting, but in a plastic interplay of compositions, sensing their expressive and symbolic potential in a way that is quite similar to metaphysics. For at least a decade, he worked on a multitude of subjects, paginating them into contemporary scenographies that generate disorientation, bewilderment, and thus perceptual and symbolic curiosity. And in a world where everything is images and communication via images, without this curiosity it is impossible to exert any moral pressure on the beholder. Thanks to this technique of combinations and juxtapositions of images and genres, the viewer is induced to ask themselves a number of questions about the world, about social reality, the effects of globalization, the meaning of life in the age of bio-politics, without this being the necessary premise for the pictorial effort. This first level, still on the level of concept, attracted by photographic archaeology, is joined by another that is much more strongly bound up with the senses, not to say with sensuality. It is a drive, a nearly apotropaic, materialistic and mystical need to paint. An urge to live off painting and recognize reality, or sub-reality, via the painting. In other words, it is a question of devouring reality and the unconscious so that it all can be evacuated pictorially without losing recognizable form—or better, holding it at the edges of the painting and the edges of the drawing, in a process that comprises sexual consumption, processing of grief and loss, erotic transfiguration of the phantom. “An effective photograph can imprint itself deeply in one’s mind, but a good painting is capable, even if only for an instant, to absorb and soothe the flow of consciousness. A photo can be admired, a painting can be contemplated. Painting, and oil painting in particular, is a subtly three-dimensional art, which takes form by depositing and layering coloured material on a support. And this material, beautiful, receptive and sensitive, is capable of recording, at times in an extremely effective manner, the traces of emotional energy and intensity of soul and thought with which it was shaped” (A. Zucchi, “Tuttavia qualcosa non quadra”, op. cit.).

An Impression of Mysterious and Unsettling Vitality

Doing painting is like riding on Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa. The history of art still leaves some figurative margin of possibility for the survivors of Postmodernism, in the return towards a modern world that is equally adrift, where there are no safe harbours and nothing is like it was before. Zucchi senses the urgent, age-old need to experience the truth of the images resurrected from the past with the sensual and wonder-working touch of painting—where by painting we mean the matter of which and with which it is made, the physically perceptible consistency of colour. An impression of mysterious and unsettling vitality exalts Zucchi’s works. After the image is fixed—selected and reproduced for what it conjures as it rises from the unconscious, and then juxtaposed with others—, colour acts as a highlighter to change its skin, alter its consistency, and most importantly, to strip away the worn patina, the patina that every old photograph carries along with it. Colour haptically redefines the mimetic reproduction of reality. Colour—used in the plastic sense—is the device needed by the artist to purify the practice of painting and drawing of the remnant of naïve idealism that always dwells in figurative reproduction. Colour in painting and of the paint, high-temperature colours, recapture the aura just as it is being lost, redeem the body of the image, or better, the corporality of the figure, extracting the ghost of the icon just as art perishes from excessive faith in reproduction or overblown expectations for a perfectly real image. Zucchi’s points of reference thus cannot be other than a few: the old Titian who enflames the surface with colour after Renaissance classicism; Nicolas Poussin who alters the iconography with his unsettling palette; a baroque De Chirico and Alberto Savinio who illuminates the black-and-white view with dodecaphonic colours; the matter-rich infantile abstraction of Jean Arp; and Warhol who revisits the icons of Marilyn with acid or dark colours.

Ghost and Corporality

“An incredible vast range of experiences and expressive modes thus open to those who still wish to practice painting. Like many—or perhaps few, I don’t know—I want to paint what I see because, by projecting what I think into seeing, I define and amplify my sensations. And so I look outside of myself in search of a subject, and my eye mainly falls, repeatedly and in a quite banal manner, upon the immense mass of images and the flow of visual information that surrounds me. I choose or I find myself doing painting that issues forth from the observation of photography because it invades and fills my visual horizon with fragments of reality that fascinate and captivate me. It is not photography itself that attracts me, but the infinite multitude of subjects that it conveys. It could be a walrus or a mite, the ruins of Machu Picchu or an iceberg, an astronaut or a Shinto priest. Certainly, in many ways my work is the result of a misappropriation, but at this point, with all the creative talents currently in circulation, in my heart of hearts I find this need to generate more forms or images almost irritating and uselessly prolix. I prefer to push myself, through painting, to give a new resonance to those that already exist, because for me it is in that linguistic shift, in the work of transmutation, that everything gets played out, that painting can manifest its difference and its capacity to intensify our perception.” (A. Zucchi, “Tuttavia qualcosa non quadra”, op. cit.)

Those who have previously dedicated themselves to the interpretation of Zucchi’s oeuvre have underscored the fact that the artist generates his works by a process of combining and juxtaposing images. He unites antithetical idioms (magical realism – abstraction) and ranges over diverse media (drawing, painting, and now sculpture as well). In substance, he works with the possibilities of recovering materials, experiences and values from history, seeking room for experimentation at the old and new margins of painting (from Mannerism to Surrealism and Abstraction) and in the equally retrospective margins of 19th-century photography (historical and artistic documentary photos, anthropological photos, pornographic photos). He fully exploits the sort of accidental sagacity mentioned by Horace Walpole in the 18th century. It is as if the happy coincidences, which only partly or almost never happen by chance, helped him overcome the obstacles and limits standing between his creative impulse and his desire for a pictorial ideal, untouched by any figurative nostalgia or semiotic soullessness.

Mental discipline and the pleasure of painting reinforce each other reciprocally right from the beginning, as is seen in his paintings and statements on the occasion of the exhibition curated by Luca Beatrice in 2008, in his interview with Ivan Quaroni in 2004, and in a more recent one with Marco Senaldi in 2012. It is an attraction to the images of the paintings and the phantasmal reproductions of photography, which in his case have the weight of archetypes from the historical-artistic subconscious. Zucchi has made slow progress, continuously introducing new cycles of works without ever abandoning painting, photographic images, or figurative and abstract codes. Experimenting with hybridizations and pairings, he has gained full control of conceptual tools and emotional drivers, planning and executing the work in an almost classical way. In 1993, he debuted with paintings that Alessandro Riva described as “highly rigorous, drawn with a compass and set square, where a figuration mixing 20th-century, real-socialist influences with Baconian accents is enclosed in a pre-digital grid, constructed with a stencil, upon which highly startling writings are superimposed – Dantesque triplets and slogans of the Red Brigades. In those works, the phantoms of our collective past and our most private fears alternate in a scenario halfway between a science fiction movie and a metropolitan nightmare… Zucchi continued along that road until 1995, accentuating the disorienting character of his subjects, but softening the composition with a more classical painting technique, with the softer and more nuanced lines of a revisited magical realism, where even the line crossing the surface of the painting had lost rigidity, gaining suppleness and levity.” (A. Brigante, “Due o tre cose che so di Zucchi…”, in Spaesamenti, cit., p. 40)

Double Game

Zucchi’s new cycle of works, with the quite suggestive title Doppio gioco [double dealing/double game] has an orderly structure based on various idioms and media that share the quest to overcome two-dimensionality in favour of three-dimensionality. It is a symptom of an intellectualist decision that originates in the discovery of the phantom and moves on to shed the idealistic trauma of iconographic loss, passing without regret or feelings of guilt to a more vitalistic exercise of painting, i.e., playing with the dual level of the image and the abstract form, of the colour in the figure and the colour in the non-figurative field, and lastly working with the media of painting and of sculpture. Indeed, the extreme parricide occurs when Zucchi betrays painting with novel sculptures in coloured plaster, a work with drapery that would be opportune to return to and reflect on in the future. The theme of this cycle seems again to be the haptic power of colour, which disseminates vitality in the place where art died. And it is an even more exacerbated vitality, thanks to the projection beyond the frame of the coloured cloth in the painting, which assumes a plastic consistency through a sculptural process, referring back to the painting on the canvas. The colours act in a plastic manner on the representation, creating a balanced suspension between the realm of the libido and that of imagination. Here we find, brought together once again in a double game of appropriation and abstraction: a series of paintings that replicate subjects taken from old photos and then redefined with bright, violent, acid colours; the Imballaggi [packages], exercises in abstraction resolved with an “infantile” use of colour; erotic drawings, also taken from old pornographic photos and then elaborated in “sections”; and lastly the “drapings” taken from old paintings, reproduced in plaster and immersed in colour so that they too emerge redefined in vitalistic terms. These figurative paintings and Imballaggi can now live together, placed close to one another as a single work, to make clear once and for all the artist’s aesthetic quest.

This work on pictorial alchemy, on the one hand, and on the mystery of photography, on the other, takes place in two phases: isolating and extracting traces from the past (old photographs), then reshaping these traces graphically, chromatically and plastically (painting, drawing, sculpture). This is a type of work with material that embraces different, if not antithetical, modernist strategies such as abstraction, metaphysical painting, surrealism, expressionism. It is a sort of recovery of images and techniques from the past that appears to be strongly moved by a quest for originality, aura, and mystery. Abstraction covers and disturbs the formal equilibrium of the figurative composition, recalling its crisis. The mental weight of nostalgia is thus denied as are the feelings of guilt for having freed oneself of it. The truth of mimetic representation is also denied with a crossing-out (a line, a monochromatic colour field). Figuration, however, is imposed. Its presence, the reality of the image, is felt, advancing through the abstract codes of Modernism, recovered from the past in a game of appropriations: a mental game that is essentially based on the principle of alienation, as in De Chirico and Eisenstein. In both cases figurativity is redefined by the incisiveness of the choice and the execution of fields of colour, whose sound drowns out that which still murmurs in the depths of iconographic memory.

After selecting a photograph, Zucchi traces it using a Bic ballpoint pen, strictly blue. This is a technique that was used by such artists as Alighiero Boetti and Jan Fabre. Through a more analytic process of drawing—to which Zucchi dedicated himself with a sort of dizzy feeling—he obtains a new image copied from the photograph. This drawing becomes the “pattern” for creating a painting by altering the ghost—the ever phantasmal character of the old photographs whose linear features are preserved in the graphic image—, which he accomplishes using thickly impasted bright, vibrant, acid colours. This chromatic technique refers back to the history of abstraction also for the way the colour fields emerge into three-dimensionality from the two-dimensional composition. This is clearer thanks to the pairing of antithetical idioms, such as figurative paintings and abstract objects, Imballaggi. It is a decisive passage in his quest. His essential culture, his action of extracting and appropriating does not originate in the appropriationist culture of the 1980s, but rather in the recovery of practices and inventions that date back to the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century. In Doppio gioco—old photographs, memories of famous paintings, cartons and packages for eggs, medicine or electrical appliances—we discover that the practice of the ready-made is immediately overcome by the application of paint to the boxes. But this initial datum is never sufficiently denied or totally obliterated, in spite of the fact that the game of painting encompasses both the geometries of the abstract period and the iconographic compositions of the more classical tradition in a single expression. However, all of this pictorial vitality is grounded in the certainty that the ready-made is the basic foundation of contemporary art: “And so I go back to observing the great European paintings, starting however from the cornerstone of contemporary art, which is the ready-made, and what I appropriate is not an object but an existing image.” (A. Zucchi, “Tuttavia qualcosa non quadra”, op. cit.) He takes a cultural stand at a time when everything seems to be destined to survive in the form of appropriations or refined Mannerism.