Silverpoint, sanguine, white lead, pen, ink, pastel, sketch, preparatory drawing, draft, preparatory cardboard, model: these are just a few of the terms that are used when speaking about ‘ancient’ drawing.

Practised ever since prehistoric times on cavern walls, employed by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and by children, too (at least by the more fortunate ones) on a daily basis, the act of drawing is a universal one, attempted at least once by everyone — even by those who have not eventually devoted their life to art.

In the beginning, in Art, drawing was conceived as an ideational process directed towards the creation of a work of art — be it painted, sculpted, or architectural.

In its sketched form, drawing allowed for the immediacy of an idea to be captured and fixed on the sheet, later to be taken up again and further developed up to the creation of the finished work of art.

Pure exercise, recommended to beginner artists as a key experience in the process of learning: in his Book of Art, a real compendium compiled in the Fifteenth century, Cennino Cennini thus dictated to the apprentice painter: ‘that he may never miss, not for a single day, to draw something’.

It is in the 1500s that drawing, chief unifying principle of all arts, frees itself from the ties of the artwork in order to become itself a work of art: it is the century of great drawers like Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael. Drawing becomes the expression of Genius. The precocious development of collecting sanctions its transformation into a refined work of pure enjoyment.

Beppo Zuccheri’s graphic experience is located right on the boundary between function and freedom.

Drawings that started out as sketches, but intended to announce something finished, are eventually left as they were once the artist discovers that he actually appreciates the state of creative limbo that only paper allows him.

His stroke comes across as more congenial to this medium, and vice-versa.

From this we get the complexity of sheets becoming texts steeped in Hermeticism. Not a literary, but a philosophical sort of it, expressing itself in figures, symbology, technique. An Unicum of technique, shape and symbology.

Past and present blending together, both at the same time, not as with a ‘before’ and ‘after’ but through the act of denial of time itself.

A stratification, that of present and past, which features a direct parallel in the sum of all kinds of matter presented in the drawings: pastel, acrylic, chalk: a stroke first covered, then rediscovered, and finally veiled.

Again, present and past meet and agree in Hermetical stratifications.

Among the strokes, the figure of the woman is the protagonist. Apparently a sacrificial Virgin, with her face covered and her expression hidden, she is actually a symbology of Myth, not only that of fertility but also of its whole erotic potential. Nudity seen as the mystical force of the Deity of the past.

Traces of Psyche, Philosophy, Ancient history and Mythology take part in the stratifications of matter, turning it into something cultured. A matter that could further enrich itself by new strata and so contemplate, in addition to the past and present, the future as well. A sort of ‘unfinished’ in a Michelangelesque fashion.

The same manifestation of the creative tension that is capable of instilling vitality into the work of art — a work which the artist may decide to go back to — is all the more evident in Michelangelo’s Prigioni (‘Prisoners’) sculptures, which are dynamically trapped within the marble in a contradiction of time, force and matter.

“No concept does the excellent artist harbour

that a single piece of marble cannot limit

by its excessiveness, which in itself is only reached

by the hand obeying intellect”

Michelangelo Buonarroti – Rhymes (151)

di ELISABETTA BOREAN / Translation: Benedicta Froelich

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