Federico Guerri

Federico Guerri, born in Cesena, Italy in 1972, is a well-known Italian artist who has moved from expressing his art in big size sculptures to dreamlike drawings.

He studied art at the Fine Arts Academy in Bologna where he graduated in 1995. After his graduation he developed his personal exploration of art and since 2005 his work has moved over to a strictly pictorial area, combining drawing and painting.

He has participated in several solo- and group exhibitions, cultural events as well as art competitions, where his art has earned recognition and been awarded.

Federico is living and working in his birthplace in Cesena, Italy.

In his work Federico is chasing the dream of a drawn world, or at least a perfect correspondence between the imaginary and reality. For him, drawing assumes features of a primary and archaic activity, something that dwells outside time and art. The graphite has the same power as of the brush, he doesn’t need color to move a step beyond or to make himself convincing; he relies on a silvery trait. By working directly onto an unprepared canvas, treated with a basis of water and suspended graphite, he elaborates forms that combine the human hand with a planning quality. Visions of invisible cities or topographies of imagination, with paths that interrupts either to immediately restart or to vanish into thin air, are frequently located within the thick weave of urban signs; here is a dome, a vault, a major road, there appears to be spires, roofs, scaffolds and vertebras of a wall. It is like looking at some kind of aerial blueprint of a dusty, layered and disseminated city or empire rotating around its own axis. From the smallest block to its panoramic extension, the territory grows as a compact, immense ideogram – it shuts itself up into a code that waits to be deciphered. It could continue endlessly, as a kind of tribute to the practically inexhaustible series of alphabetic and numeric combinations.


The Image of Existence by Flavio Ermini

Art in its origins pertains to nature. It is nature. And as such art contemplates and gives form to itself. It is therefore time that art, mindful of its auroral state, returns to act on the initiative of its own features. It is time for the signic writing to re-establish its own ways and its own lights. Everything. Even its own darkness. Nothing should be born if not from its impulses, spasms, and jets, whether violent or calm.

This is what happens in the work of Federico Guerri, where the writing chooses mainly to be drawing and is not meant to attend to anything other than its own service of happenstance. The writing dances and inscribes in this debut an elusive character of an arising sign and announces the enigmatic threshold between cyclical disappearance and new beginning. It has neither principle nor end.  It appears and subsides. It appears on our horizon as a vapor of water does.

Presence and coming into being are united and merge in these spaces toward which Federico Guerri guides us: they are fully recognizable places, yet they reveal their true essence as a shadow and appearance.

We live in a time that trails off from the light: we listen to the announcement of darkness. The bond between heaven and earth is broken. The sign no longer arises from the level of the gods to come down to the womb of a cave. It is no longer defined like the vital mix of blueness and humus, but falls back on the stone. The earth is no longer the “hall of festivals” referred to by Hölderlin. The earth is no longer the home of a process in which gods arrive and transform everything with their presence.

The drawings that lay before us are interacting with their retro-world: with the eclipses, with the  harshness of which they were witnesses. We are witnessing a movement that testifies – through  lighting and epiphanies – a drift of heaven. 

Multiple worlds rise towards the light and further eclipses of light return into the earth.  However, an image is always looming at the foundation of both movements: to insist upon the urgency of danger for an invincible bereavement. And it is here – in the peril – that the writing of signs is outlined. Here, Guerri resides within the limits of livability, where he is always at risk  of coming next to … absence.

Moved by an unwavering confidence with regards to what is being built, but also by doubt, criticism and skepticism, Guerri puts in place a true strategy of appropriation and detachment, giving life to a construction immediately destined to be flaking. We find ourselves in front of the construction of a wall and a rebellion against it. The transience passes from man to the world. The same weakness is repeated from one to another. The world suddenly appears insecure.

The engraving shows and at the same time conceals the landscape. 

The shadow derives from a veil that interrupts the spreading of the light and consents the rising of architecture and objects according to the way light and darkness are arranged. The limits of the world expands beyond the horizon of figures that succumb to our senses. They are fragile, disturbing shadows that emerge and  have broken the pacts with the hidden. That desolate room is another world from which it is difficult or even impossible to come down to our own. It is devoured in its own way by a crisis that internally torments the understanding of oneself. The initiative from which the signs are born can sink so far as to produce loss. These signs are the lacerated companions of a thought that is yet to be formed, living in a broken unity, open to the unbarred. This thought is clueless as to where it belongs and is restless, confused and unfamiliar to all.

The world as a unit breaks its totality in multiple perspectives, each relative to a different point of view.  In other words, in that desolate room one looks for a world; what one finds is a horizon connected to a specific point of view. We witness the collapse of all certainty. For everything becomes increasingly difficult to break through and appear. The unity sinks. During the development of these urban nuclei immersed in darkness, the peril of deformation and of laceration grows and grows, giving shape to another danger:  the end.

Lost in the fragmentation and disoriented at the margins of an incomprehensible urban map, when we open our eyes we can only see darkness:  a tangle of passion and rationality in an unstable medley connotes the world.

Facing the darkness that is life and the sensitive world that is disintegration, Guerri keeps his eyes wide open;  he doesn’t pull back horrified by the obliteration of  illusions, he doesn’t give into new disguises to conceal the emptiness. On the other hand, why should one trust in the great feat of dis-guise achieved through the creation of an ideal, transcendent world? Why should one ever illusively build another world? Why should one ever alienate our lacerated world? Why should one nullify our world and take refuge in oversensitive values? The signic writing of Guerri follows the process in which forms dissolve, fusing with one another; he sees that life culminates in letting oneself abandon oneself to the fall, and witnesses the triumphant rise of the laceration on everything. The essence of this process is intricate insofar that it enmeshes existence: the chaos of all the possibilities of unceasing perish. Hölderlin observes: “Everything mixes/ privy of order/ and returns the original entanglement.”

The world is formed during the fall. We are sons without fathers. We turn to stone and fall. Around us – in the disturbed, urban architecture – the forms slowly become deformed in the dark, poorly illuminated by the discontinuous flashes of a constellation. The object that comes forth in the signic experience of Guerri is an object that has lost every reminder of unity and integrity, and at the same time every expectation of truth. In his amenable experience, Guerri maps out a sort of melancholy shadowed in decay. It is a lacerated melancholy that is defined in every work with flashes of wounded, disconsolate emotions.

In these works  there is something that is extended indefinitely  in time and that cannot be consumed. In regards to this, we take note of Musil: “One could say that we have two destinies: one mobile, unimportant one that accomplishes things; and another one that is immobile and important that one will never know.” And it is exactly this second destiny that Guerri makes reference to:  the “immobile and important” depth of ourselves and the essence of being.

One can make something exist, or not. That’s all. In the sign, the substance of being is put to the test. He who has lost the edenic garden cannot return to it. Nothing is left for him but the road to the border:  the narrow path that passes through the death of the father. The incurable wound and the exile become lymph and errant center, the essence of all experiences. 

The destiny of this architecture is present in that it is part of nature and its vocation for decay. What one always repeats (the days, the seasons…) appears identical - in its cadenced, rhythmic return, that is almost a dance - , in reality it is a slow, unrelenting collapse. Here we witness the distressing show, and are a part of it. We understand it with fright, and with fear we take part in the collapse of our illusions that feed our desire of omnipotence and immortality. The sign tells us that its occurrence is the happening of what is always repeated: the fleeting instant that brings about a progressive fall. The sign signifies the limits of the human condition and the precariousness of its edifices.  The gods are distant and more than likely mortal. They are exactly like us, the world, and the celestial vault that – the one that one can see well in the “dark night” of the engraved slates – begins and ends. That “dark night” is the image of existence.

In the works of Guerri the awareness about what is to come is alive – beyond every body. A beyond-becoming that is deformation, fruit of the decay that has taken refuge in us since our birth.

In these works the process that starts from the beginning of the delineation of the human conscious of the mortal nature of every beginning is outlined. Here, one of the phenomena of the origin of existence – the order of the vital motion – is internally affected. Chaos that is threateningly destabilizing is imposed. The matter that makes up everything seems to lose the legitimacy of being. Here, natures takes a step forward. It pushes to the house of man and determines its fall. The journey is configured like a true setting towards a “dark night” that appears endless.

Flavio Ermini

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