Reviews

The vision in the paintings of Francesco Straface, between Expressionism and Pop Art
By: Susanna Rossi Esser

While in some works the appearance is "provocative and condemning", with colors that are "loud and violent" reminiscent of the German art group "Blaue Reiter", in others, the pictorial gestures and volume compose a creation more similar to that of abstract art, while maintaining init an impact of high tension.

At first glance acrylics are used in a vigorous method; however as you approach the artwork, You discover that the chromatic weaving is skillfully achieved through the superimposition of the overglaze, to compose, like in the plot of the cloth, tiny designs and details to which it entrusts the story of the art.

Points of references and instances take us back to German Expressionism, for example Kirchner, when we see the painting of a church between two trees that are paired together like a contrast between good and evil. To the right we see an orchard in bloom, from the vibrant green to the golden orange, painted with essentialness and winding lines; to the left, there are red trees ablaze and worrying, that evoke the extraordinary landscapes of the Austrian artist Marc. Located in the centre, towards the church, a mysterious grey insect evokes the Kafkaesque metaphor of "the Metamorphosis", to become another and once again a counterpoint, the mystical tension that can save from the brutality of a negated self. In the top left of the indigo blue sky, a small spider weaves its web. In Straface's paintings, small animals or insects are often present, frequently hidden in the dynamism of the composition, sometimes diluted in the decomposition of the form to create colored weaves that appear like tiny monitors that invade the domestic spaces.

As in the "House of the Red Roof", a house without walls, in which a man sits in an easy chair,his eyes fixed on the television screen, spent, in an atmosphere of apparent well-being, where all appears in order, in place but meanwhile we are given the satisfaction of the non domestic sense, the non being; very common in a society of consumption without limits.

The "Cotigo ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am), is substituted with the "I possess, therefore I am", status symbol of empty objects that Straface composes into collections that invade space, not with the unrestrained vision of a dream like in De Chirico's or Alberto Savino's surrealism but in a lucid and almost mathematical decomposition of an entomologist that discovers in a microscope the essence of form. In this case, the details revealed expose the essence of Not Being.

As in the two interior paintings, a naked man and woman occupy a room that has lost its connotation of a place "to live". A room, perhaps a bathroom with a woman seen only from behind, legs spread apart, a water closet, the side view of a bathtub, the curtain, the towels and a floor realized by weaving colors, each with its own secrets to reveal; a pair of small pencils, a roll of adhesive tape, small books and beneath the woman who seems to be suspended in the room while clinging to a pole, is almost reminiscent of the provocative movements of a cubist; the lacquered fiery red point of a lipstick appears underneath the woman.
It is a "Kammerschatz" of memories and metropolitan nightmares, in a "barraccone" (circus) of light and crypt messages. On the right side of the painting, in an Amusement Park display window, a wood colored highchair brings to mind childhood; on the wall, a telephone from the 70's and throughout the painting, brilliant colors depict a light that is not light, that suggests the indiscreet eye of a television camera, almost like that of "Big Brother".

Francesco Straface's paintings succeed in portraying images and messages from statements of a foolish everyday consumption to a complex evocation that leans towards a spiritual dimension.

The painting dedicated to September 11th and the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York is symbolic. Distraught and nocturnal, dominated by the shapes of the skyscrapers, one of which has the profile of Pinocchio leaning on it with his long nose, bringing to mind the lies of a President, exporter of a false democracy, found on the control of part of the international black gold, petroleum, in the Middle East. At the center of the painting, instead of the immense Ground 0 crater, a small country cemetery, with a wooden fence and colored flowers is depicted.

Even in dead nature's midst, Straface's painting becomes allusive and one of statements, as in The metaphysical vase, which, rather than holding flowers shows off a laptop screen containing virtual yellow anemone emerging from the vase.

A "shop window" reality, that which is told by the painter, in winked windows, hypermarkets of the useless, in which hide the secret of the artist dreamer: small flowers, animals, childhood memories, colored pencils and the games of an artist that do not grand pauses to polished statements and breathe in a holiness, found, lost and then once again found; a fragment of the sacred re-emerged into the triviality of the everyday, a mystical tension that is reminiscent of the highs and lows of the great philosopher Kierkegaard.

- Susanna Rossi Esser