The exhibition is called In the beginning was the end and it involves large paintings. None of them was ever shown before: Emiliano Ponzi is in fact known throughout the world for his computer-generated illustrator works.
With In the beginning was the end, Emiliano Ponzi returns to the starting point, to the drawing of when he was a child and the painting of when he was a student at the IED. Or perhaps he simply returns to painting, which is older and earlier than computer illustration. For Ponzi it is certainly a beginning: the encounter with this expressive medium dates back to the last two years.
And it is an almost ring-like encounter: a melee with the canvas, the brushes, the paint and the colour.
Ponzi underlines the effort of this work in a video made by Marco Rosella which films him at work in his New York studio.
Meticulous, fussy, precise, here he seems to have to deal with a softer medium, capable of forgiving, in the play of lights, transparencies and space, some small inaccuracies, to leave room for the expressive dimension. Yes, that must be rigorously put on canvas. This is what painting does. And so he learned to do Ponzi. Which conquers, on the day of the opening in Milan, a portion of Corso Venezia on a crowded afternoon, among the thousand events that the fashion week of these days offers to the city.
The gallery windows open onto a green work that captures attention. A drawing made for the Annecy film festival which tells of a woman on a bridge, suspended over the greenish water due to the reflections of the trees around her, intent on observing the mountains in front of her. A large painting, which plays with color in moving backgrounds of slightly rippled water. But no, that's not why she stops to look.
It's the immersive effect: the point of view is clear, exact, well cut. We are in the frame of a film, a precise scene of the story that Ponzi wants to tell us, and we are living it too: we are in the picture. The Ponzi style lies precisely in this, in showing a vision and expecting the public to fall for it. It also happens in the small size of a postcard or the cover design of a paperback. It happens, even more, between the brushstrokes of a canvas ready to welcome people to climb onto that little bridge with thin railings... or to enter the tunnel.
Emiliano Ponzi, wearing a black jacket over a pair of trousers of the same color, has chosen New York as his city of choice for about a year.
He moved there right in the middle of this new challenge, developed with an exceptional curator, Maria Vittoria Baravelli and an equally exceptional gallery owner who chose to present a highly experienced debutant.
Because if it is true that painting is new, Ponzi's drawing is highly rewarded and recognized, so much so that Marco Rossi has organized three exhibitions in three different galleries, in Turin (where it opened on the 19th), in Milan and Verona (from the 23rd).
Ponzi tells his story, saying that those paintings are the result of a project of change, to be finalized thanks to this appointment. The exhibition is the deadline for preparing the work. Yes, the boundaries, the limits. How many "frames" do we need to channel our creative actions?
«The frame is a space within which it is possible to do, but for people like me the challenge is to force it, break it in some way. I am a person who knows how to enjoy a lot of doing what he does, but not the fruits of that doing", declares Ponzi.
We are in front of two paintings, the island of Salina told by a woman sitting on a terrace with a pergola that slightly protects her from a splendid sun, ready to illuminate another of the islands, perhaps Stromboli, in the background. Next to it, the Empire State Building in an almost purple, lilac sky, of a sunset as transparent as it is intense in its transformation of the city of New York. It is the most recent of the paintings on display. But all the subjects are illustrations from his archive.
And this is another peculiarity of the exhibition: Emiliano Ponzi redesigned himself for the occasion. That is, he created the pictorial version of some of his native digital illustrations. A bit like redoing your novel…
It can be a way to begin to approach a new means of expression, perhaps creating a comfort zone in which to dedicate oneself solely to learning a new technique by painting one's own drawings. But at the same time the gym becomes art because the new language, the pictorial one, forces Ponzi to reckon with his personality.
His post-minimalist works tell a lot about himself, even when he works on commission ("I never know what I'll do, definitely something different and sometimes it's not easy because clients use my already done works as references", explains Ponzi), and this time it's about dealing with «a conceptual effort that relates to what I do, which is humanized», explains the artist.
He continues: «I was naturally faced with the problem of making colors and I discovered that I am exceptionally good at that, I know exactly what is needed to obtain that particular tone. But instead I discovered something that I had never noticed on the computer: every color is a note, but the symphony of the composition can only be seen at the end».
While he says this he points to a very large painting on my left. There are a man and a woman immersed in water up to their waists in a lake or perhaps in the clear pool of a small river, among the trees. The circles of water caused by their immersion do not end in the space of the scene and the light, a little milky, allows the reflections of their naked bodies to be more important than the details of the man's face, the only one who could take the lead. scene. Which instead remains intimate, between the two of them, despite the audience being immersed in the same water or perhaps on the shore, right there in front.
It was the cover of a novel by Saramago. And it was precisely in composing that chromatic symphony that Ponzi realized the musical value of colour: "It seemed to me that the background was the wrong tone", he explains, "then when I used the flesh color to paint human figures everything balanced out".
Here, the rewriting of one's work in another language, through another means of expression is this.
It is a trespassing, as the curator underlines. But the goal for Ponzi is always the same: «I am a basic designer. And if I come to terms with the medium, whatever it is, I reach the goal which, in my case, is to communicate."
You can communicate in many ways... «Yes, that's why I like to change, I like to evolve and I felt the need to get closer to painting. I was missing something." To stay here, in a renewal of the archive? «This new medium stimulates the hand-brain relationship in a different way which naturally stimulates my imagination. I also want to do something else, we'll see what version 2.0 will be".
Meanwhile, a word from the curator: «The choice of works to be transferred to canvas was based on Ponzi's most iconic works to underline that Emiliano has always been an artist».
Emiliano Ponzi, In the beginning was the end, Marco Rossi Contemporary art - Turin from 19/9, Milan from 21/9, Verona from 23/9, all open to visitors until 28/10.