Angeli - Festa - Schifano

Piazza del Popolo

Angeli, Festa, Schifano


Giuseppe Ussani d’Escobar


It was the years of Romethat represented the center of the world, you could not even travel, sooner or later all those who counted: writers, artists, actors, singers and directors would cross Piazza del Popolo. A magical microcosm centered on his obelisk which attracted characters moving between reality and dream. Three young men would choose their kingdom in this wonderful corner of the EternalCity: Angeli, Festa and Schifano. Romewas in full swing, though rooted in its millennial history, the lights turned on, and night became day and came the desire to live, getting involved with the ascending euphoria; It was "the city that never sleeps", twinning ideally and emotionally with New Yorkand London. The advertisements and the signage of the streets penetrated the attentive and vivid sensitivity of the youngsters, as it happened previously in the States, and here are the first monochromes of Schifano, blunted in their contours as reversal films, filled with images of Coca Cola and Esso, brands that had entered our daily newspaper with the incisiveness of the characters of the ancient Roman gravestones that paraded through the Appian way, formulas of the new ritual of modernity, an invitation to consumerism for mass society. Schifano brings in these writings-images some drooling and drips, the icon-brand remains submissive despite the brilliance and apparent durability, of time wear. Angeli realizes the Half Dollar, the eagle is an unequivocal  symbol contaminated by rhetoric of power, but from the hands of the artist revives as an imperfect, incomplete phoenix, however powerful in its pictorial and visual characterization, recovering the immortality of the symbol. The urban profiles of our cities were irreparably changed, the suburbs had expanded, the Renaissance and Baroque historical centers suffered alterations and modifications, the spirit of modernity had also arrived to us with its attractive and hypnotic violence. Festa, with his series of "Squares of Italy", including "The Sforza Castle", evoked the ancient tradition of our architecture, invoking the humanistic memory in support and witnessing of our special cultural superiority in the European and international context. At the same time, its "Squares" are suspended and evanescent realities which reflect the surreal solidity and fragility of its appearances. In those years, a young man moved in the world of art and attended the Soligo Gallery, a place of encounters and emotions, of magical convergences, since nothing in this life is really accidental; the friendship with the gallery manager made him more and more passionate to Tano Festa, untill he would fall in love of one of the most beautiful works of this artist: "The Carnival - Tribute to Ensor". Ensor and Festa in this canvas meet perfectly, in a totality of harmony, intuitions and emotions. In the portraits of that time, Tano embodies his ghosts, the passionate desire to live in a bulimic orality of childhood: the faces of real people inspired by the masterpieces of literature and art, always preserve and denounce the identity of masks, puppets and dolls, that enter and exit the stage of his theater which is nothing more than Campo de 'Fiori; the Shakespearean artist-jester has thus built his "environment" in which he stages, between the conscious and the unconscious, his "happening" gratifying his self at the reaction of the participants-viewers. The masks, in Tano Festa and in James Ensor, possess the vital and explosive energy of the lowest and demonic instincts from which you would like to escape and at the same time serve to push away the fear of death by exorcising it. "Farewell to London" is the summary of Festa’s Universe: the unbuilt but painted window faces Trafalgar Square, the focusing is on Nelson’s column, then a detachment and a glimpse of a shoe and the umbrella of a man moving away from the pictorial surface, a hand emerges from nowhere to invade the scene with a masterful close-up and implies a greeting, the clouds on top skim in the sky. The space lives of overlapping and a movie develops vertically in a sequence of frames. Cinema, television and photography, the new means of reading and interpreting reality have enchanted the artists imagination. The beautiful "Palm", surrounded by bright and powerful colors, stands in its intense whiteness, and is almost the projection of a mirage that comes to us from the nostalgic memory of the distantLibya, Schifano’s native land which he will still remember in his tributes toLeptis Magna and starry skies. Angeli, Festa and Schifano are heirs and consumers of cultural images who extracted from the habitual context of everyday life by making them Pop and also Op and returning them to the force of the symbol.  The three life and adventures partners are borderline artists whose existence has become artwork itself; they were not afraid of death, with her they’ve lived in dreams, and for this reason they have never died, maybe they were never born, maybe they were just imagined, simply immortal characters of a movie that never ended.