Febbraio 1990

In wanting to summarise Stefano Piali's painting in a worthy and evocative image, I would think about the metaphor of flight. It is like the irrepressible impulse that activates liberating energies in order to spread out the thought beyond the boundaries of homologated knowledge and communication stereotypes. It is an innate power, a such perspicuous vocation that have inspired artist's work, taking shape in force lines, which give rhythm to the surface as true dynamic vectors or rule the free and sinuous flow of space structures. There are not even missing the symbolic, rather than formal, resolutions: i.e. iconographic and thematic situations, where the idea of overcoming the state of physical envelope, in order to radiate astral energy, is implicit. The ambition to signify and portray the polyvalent process of the flight and liberation is a distinctive trait in Piali's work. I would say, it is the most easily detectable permanent feature both in terms of content and pictorial language. The most interesting stylistic achievements ensue exactly the need to provide such ambition with more sophisticated linguistic tools. It must be said that, although his youthfulness, the Roman artist has carried out a research that already has its stratification, showing himself provided with performing capacity, inventive fervour and poetical depth. In every painting and sculpture – that have been originated from steady frames in which the pictorial form was going to settle – in the agitation of matter andsigns, that pass through it, there is an anxiety to untie bows and glitches, psychological inhibitions and material restrictions that prevent the flight, the soar towards pure skies and wide horizons. It's not a feeling of mine, but a fact. Who is curious enough would might attempt, for their own satisfaction, an inventory of bright or implicit, allusive or figurative forms which appear in Piali’s work from the flight, from the beginning to today. References are often explicit, in the shape of Icarus invasion or other allegory of escapes from mind labyrinths and mechanisms of matter, from the doldrums of an inflexible existential servitude of human being.These are heroic and titanic attempts entrusted to mythological creatures, to heraldic figures of medieval triumph, to plastic-pictorial groups, where are recognised famous places of Christian martirology and classic and pagan mythology. Flurries of knights tighten in the space, in exciting tangles of bodies and draperies. Inextricable are the twines of figures involved in the ritual act of cross’s deposition or in more profane liturgies. Another potential of energy is continuously involved: it is exhibited through performance and within the same body, in which exercises the dialectics of eroticism, both vitalistic and destructive. Not without reason, Piali makes full use of the metaphor of flight. Especially, seems revealing the predilection for golden Mannerist and Baroque iconographic patterns, on which triggers the acute vitalisticPiali’s sensibility, his fetishistic cult of matter hit by the energy that vivifies and annihilates at the same time. Piali made full use of this ancient forms for his formal weariness and passionate tension, the mystical fervour that nourishes the physical body language and the symbolic language of the painting, where expresses itself the jumble of psychic accumulations in its irrational violence.Referring to Mannerist and Baroque stylistic features, the Roman artist recognizes its deep identity on the expressive substance level. He does not carry out an academic formalistic recovery procedure, a “reassessment” in metalinguistic interpretation, i.e. a citationistic appropriation in the spirit of some important contemporary experiences. I would say that in Piali the mannerist recovery starts with the icon, but to betray it along the path, i.e. to undermine and alternate its original integrity by exasperating its structure, contaminating the matter, the colour, and further by complicating its original composition. The artist's laboratory - with the materials that invade and mark it - offers itself as a privileged metaphorical place, in order to narrate a more intimate story that involves all psychological and existential referents, on which Piali harmonizes his time. “Rattod’Europa” ("Rat of Europe") and “Deposizione” ("Deposition"), an apocalyptic escape of knights or whatever, are only formal appearances to be read as metaphors: they reveal the ambiguity of the human being and the impossibility to define the identity and the right shape, enduring beyond the representative convention of the iconic theme, the identification of the physiognomic typology, the revealing mask’s description. Piali achieved this metaphorical focusing by severely linked passages, by playing on the quality of figuration and constituent formal elements, such as matter and sign. The main focus is always on the problem of motion and flight. Toward the end of the Seventies it was on the synchronous representation of several motions, each entrusted to an artificially structed figure of the group. The virtuosistic composition technique – which we will not call neo-mannerist, because it is not enough filtered on the intellectual level – matched with the accuracy of the performance; this one sought to reestablish the visual detail, in terms of a hyper-realism unrelated to any ideological purpose, in the sense of representing the alienating aspect of the metropolitan existence. Evidently, Piali was looking to picture an aching and chancy state of human being, which is the perception of impossibility and a state where it is a progress. This is the underlying issue of art: drawing inspiration from life, it can only produce an improbable and abstract simulacrum, a figure that seems to be arbitrarily extrapolated from the stream in which it irreversibly fades away. Due to this problematic background, in his first attempts, the integrity of the figures – performed with fair and compact painting - is opposed to the imbalance of the composition and to the multiplication of motions and acts through a range of figures, that show some possible position of the motion’s diagram. In this period of maximum figural definition, we could oppose the works, that have prepared the current season. I’m thinking about the paintings published in the Neukölln’s exhibition’s catalogue (1987), that Elio Mercuri have entitled “For moderns’ Fate”: basically, they anticipate currently triumphant themes and component structures, though keeping themselves on a generic figural referentiality, except mode for the prevailing and recognisable presence of the horse, to whom is assigned the generative virtue of motion, which not an innovative symbolic association, particularly performed by Boccioni. Moreover, a notable distinction regards the quality of pictorial matter and the optical definition of the vision: this one is gradually blurred from the foreground to the background, until the final disintegration unto the indistinct; the first one treated with whirling breadth, but without any jumbled brutalism, on the contrary aimed to polarize, to condense into the flagrancy of a figure, which seems to materialize from a remote space dimension. Such a visualizer process is symbolic - inspired of Boccioni and futurist origin. After all, Piali has previously elaborated dynamic structures able to visibly animate surfaces via darting spirals, susceptible to acquire a plastic consistency: an example is “Monumento all’aviazione generale” (“Monument to the general aviation”), a great bronze located at the airport of Ciampino. Despite the mechanistic appearance of those works and the concise and schematic stylization of forms, I have a propensity for discerning a cosmographic projection of depth impulses, interior tensions that on the image’s screen capsize and amplify in an undulating way and paroxysmal rhythm. Briefly is involved the quality of the space, that seems to be vigorously structured with constructive logic (mindful of persistent Baroque lesson). In a more than a decay, Piali has accomplished a path made of strictly interconnected cycles, defining in painting and sculpture the polyhedral mirror of a (cultural) reality in process. A reality, which shows different and unmissable aspects, included historical settlings and iconographic renderings of the pictorial metaphor, of which the artist makes full use as an own selective source, in order to experiment further flights of the image, beyond the limits of the conventions.

Febbraio 1993

In Tintoretto’s “Miracolo del ritrovamento del corpo di S. Marco” ("Miracle of the Finding of the Body of St. Mark") - now held at the Brera Academy - a long corridor vortically draws into the deep the perspective of the painting. The rhythm that articulates the intricate spatial funnel is dazzling; there is no pause for the observer, the eye is resent to alternating bright and dark cavities; everything is energy under development and action is consumed in a second. At a stroke, legend, history and humanity are involved and distorted into a tragic maelstrom. I wanted to remember this suggestive piece of history of art just to clarify some aspects of Stefano Piali's painting, that I have been following with interest for many years and seen it evolving in more than one period. It has always been spoken about his work in terms of mythological exhumation, anachronism and cultured tendency of quoting, but never in a spatial dynamic interpretation, except for the interesting study by Nicola Micieli. Though the "motion", understood as the primary condition of being and as an eschatological basis for understanding nature, should suppose a necessary prologue to any hermeneutic approach to his research. Motion and stasis are two poles within is debated the rugged sketch of Stefano Piali's painting. The universe is one, but its unity is dynamic and alive, as it includes multiplicity and oppositions as its everlasting articulation. As for Heraclitus, even in this case «everything becomes and changes, nothing remains identical to itself, war is mother and queen of everything and life is born only from the opposition» (Cornelio Fabro, “History of philosophy ", Rome 1954, pp. 11). Indeed, the fact that the dichotomous approach between dynamism and contemplation is one of the main referent of Piali’s thought is already testified by some of his paintings in the late Seventies. At that moment, the painter was measuring the degree of provocative reliability of the matter through an ultra-realistic use of the image, as he would like to make it his own historical truth, as he would like to surprise the dynamic secret of the elements, that is, to take part in the evolution all the way. The subjects of those canvases were generally men and women caught before or right after the action, when the effort was dilated to the spasm and the limbs still kept the signs of suffering. The dynamism of those anatomies recalled Bernini’s Baroque accelerations, a more contemplative Bernini, but no less efficient in its sudden domain of space. A struggle of contrapositions rejected and, at the same time, enveloped those creatures, making them gentle and fierce, ignorant and aware of the pain. The subject matter of those surfaces was tense and compact, the colour enveloped every corner of the story without leaving any truce to the chance or informal illusions. Sign-colour-light were the three referents of that universe, the three vector bases with which Stefano Piali told the world its generative anxiety of light shapes and rainbows. Within those paintings time was like a fleeting moment, like infinitesimal crumb and powder of a general motion of things, otherwise unknown. Therefore, his characters, develop their existence in fragments of time so minimal to be almost imperceptible and so grand and heroic to be considered too authentic compared to reality. In the early Eighties these forms began to multiply and give to their own image a multiple development in space. In this way began the cycle “Corpi in movimento” (Bodies in motion), of which the work “Il gioco” (“The game”) is the main evidence with that extraordinary and diaphragmatic image repetition of those young people in motion. Indeed, “I due lottatori” (“The two wrestlers”) restored their presence to the world through a serial repetition of their dynamic subjects. Their position in space made uncertain every fixed coordinate, giving to the surface the value of a mobile appearance. In this way, Piali was moving from a first period, that we could call baroque, to a more complex and articulate vision of things. In other words, his Berninian dynamism was changing in an accelerated dimension of time, closer to the modern concept of the Bergsonian equation of “simultaneity”, not the Baroque one, metabolic and scenographic. Those faces projected in figurative evolution recalled the frames by Anton Giulio Bragaglia in their dry and tough task of investigators of the space, of light crossers. In them the consciousness of being did not develop as much in a realistic comparison with time, as with an early distinction between the latter and being. And if time was fleeing more and more like a rational notion, the being was getting involved in a bigger participation in the infinite drama of the universal, losing features and immanent details. The being coming untied from time needed to find another one. Probably fictitious, illusory, negative or positive, unreal or fantastic. And so, around Mid-Eighties, Stefano Piali starts a new cycle of images, where a fantastic journey replaces them in an illusory, mythical dimension. The birth of this new adventure in his painting was well described by Elio Mercuri in the small monograph of 1987: «Close to break in a new era,» - writes Mercuri- , «in which a cycle of human civilization comes to an end, in the imminence of a "mutation" of the species, whose referents are unclear, we live the affliction of the process and the desperate and distressed research of our fate.» That is the fate of the moderns recognized in that historic reactivation formula, successively called as “anachronicity”, i.e. the loss of temporal “centre”, and therefore, as stylematic zeroing of the tendencies, and finally, as a possibility of access to the transversal code of art forms, which becomes for Piali something new and of his own. Indeed, for the young painter the "anachronic" being of his paintings was not that "reconstructed" within a temple of recognizable forms, as it happened for Bruno D'Arcevia’s Mannerism or Mariani’s "cultured" Appropriation. His gaze, entering into the dimension of the Myth, revealed to himself only amazement and astonishment, metaphysical silence of space and titanic agitation of primordial forces. By the rehabilitation of a timeless scenario, Stefano Piali finally reaches - towards the end of the decade - a vocabulary made of free forms in expression and in their articulated and obstinate will to be. Nullified the reductive patterns of historical reality, the artist regains for his images lightness, haziness, gravitational redemption, mobility. Fragments of templates of warriors, women, horses, centaurs and damned angels vortically intersect gloomy and stormy skies, creating bloody battles made of speedy hits, mortal cutting blows and sudden front’s overturning. In them the tension never comes to an end, the climax of the struggle is constant and does not register any tone decrease. The muscles are turgid, faces strained, gestures challenge swiftly this spectacular space of non-history. Energy and containment struggle desperately with an endless war overwhelming each other, but never bringing back a final victory. In all this, the Myth is merely a supposition, a pretext to free the performance of history and perhaps, a metaphor for a better understanding of the origin of matter. Matter that is the result of opposing forces, dynamically collusive and therefore, evocative of any form. It is the Heraclitean opposition from which everything originates and whence it lives, generates and dies. The eternal battle reshines the light in infinitesimal dust, because only in that smallest-space place the man finds his primordial code. Stefano Piali, fleeing in a world without reality, succeeded in recreating "a vitro", a portion of philosophical truth (and as such scientific) of the great explosion, the big bang, the zero-time universe, of non-place from which all things took place, in the fury of the instant. As Roupnel said «time has only a reality, that of the instant», so in this painting space has only a place, the fragmentary one of the moment. Concluding with Bachelard, it can be said that «time is a reality enclosed in the instant and suspended between two nothing. Time may reborn, but it will have to die first and that "the instant is already loneliness». It is loneliness in its most bare metaphysical value. But a loneliness of a more sentimental order confirms the tragic isolation of the instant: with a kind of creative violence, the time limited to the instant isolates us from others, but not from ourselves, since it breaks with our dearest past, that is our present, our reality.

Maggio 1995

According to me, in approaching to Stefano Piali’s work one need to be in a basic state of mind, where art is bared of every intellectualism, in order to be interpreted as a moral tension and as a research of its identity. And not because Piali is lacking in a rich cultural background, but because this huge knowledge is at the service of his inner impulses, and therefore it is the means, not the end, of creativity. There are no exhaustive hermeneutic tools, except for intuition, to understand such genuine artists. No naiveness, for heaven’s sake! Also, because naiveness is an operation far from being anti-intellectual, as one would like to believe. After all - it is well known – for human being simplicity is a conquest, not a gift. Simplicity is no less than the penetration into one's mystery and intrinsic values, both individual and universal. That requires a metaphysical access to the spiritual essence or Muse, since we are talking about an artist. Speaking of Stefano Pali, one cannot overcome any intellectualism, any attempt to justify simultaneously the creative phenomenon, hail it from the current trend or ethics of the time. In this artist, there is the fierce research of his demon or inner angel. There is a metaphysical fire, different from traditional one, because here the universal plan is solved in the very terms of individuality. True values are reached vertically, in a free flight in the ether finding oneself. Each one’s roots are in cosmos. So, universality is not a value that can be determined dogmatically, since it is properly the individual essence. Stefano Piali's artistic language claims this special reading key, since it cannot be ascribed, in my opinion, to the basically irrationalistic poetics of the twentieth century, but still it is impossible to resort to the ancient and conceited consciousnessism. Therefore, we are in the presence of a recovery of idealistic, classic-romantic poetics, of which are accepted some elements (explicit anthropomorphism, order tension, even if convulsive and not rationalistic). But we are not even in the presence of that dispersion of the ego in matters, which segregate the mind in itself, typical of the avant-gardism, even though some of precepts of these poetics are accepted (the swirling dynamism and sounding of the unconsciousness). In this poetics there are elements linked to light-darkened philosophies or self-critical awakening philosophies, of which Stefano Piali, along with other artists, has become promoter. According to this poetics consciousness and unconscious are two faces of the same coin. A recap and at the same time an overcoming of the old anthropocentrism and present nihilism. A call to that man’s superior science that talks about his angelic identity, closely related to his own physical plane. In this epic research of himself, Stefano Piali collects the heritage of various contemporary aesthetic experiences, inserting them in a singular cosmic tension. In many aspects his stories can be considered as interior, mental representations, while in many others they can be gestural acts, dynamic invasions of space. The point is that Stefano is biased toward the present expressive vein through several and contradictory ways. He is one of the few that really has the courage to undermine constantly himself, leaving goals that others would consider fulfilling and definitive. When I met him in the early 1980s, he was leaving a tormented experience of hyperrealism with surprising and unique results. Careless of the emerging ferments of the new mannerist figuration, Stefano sent to the pupping mill an extraordinary knowledge of expressive wisdom that would have guaranteed an immediate and certain success. So, he left the static immobilism of the hyperreal figuration and began to split the images, as he was taken by the desire to depict the unconscious background, the mysterious river of energy, that he tried to in vain to disguise in the trompe-l'oeil’s deceit. Therefore, it is worth to mark down, that the movement which animated his characters started to take place prevalently in a mental space. Thereafter, the paintings immersed themselves in an unusual dynamism, bringing the artist into amazing abstract-informal experience. A few years later, at the end of the Eighties, a new change of mind. The figuration returned, following and reclaiming Piali’s representative urgencies, but it inserted itself in that transmutation of energy accomplished in the gesture explosion. At this stage – the current one - it is an equilibrium urgency to get ahead between two opposite distances of movement and stasis. Vitalism and contemplation nourish one another, in a peaceful and harmonious exchange, in accordance with conflicts that hold up them. As Heraclitus thought, everything changes and everything stays the same. This harmony of the opposites - testified also by the Taoist Lao-tzu in another field of thought - would remain incomprehensible without the Socratic explanation, according to which the individual changes by getting acquainted with himself, but remaining continuously in the mutation. This self-critical feature, in my opinion, has nothing of the Enlightenment, while the repeal to the individual is definitely anti-idealist, anti-dialectic, since he refuses to put the harmony of the opposites externally, in the historical or even ultra-worldly flux. Harmony is “hic et nunc”, is in the intimate understanding of conflicts and not in their outer resolution. The harmony is nothing more than a collision/encounter of the individual with himself, through which - in a self-critical process - he returns within himself animating his other creative and moral commitment. If there’s evolution, it is inclusive, not selective or dialectical. In this way, the universal values are within the individual. In Stefano Piali’s poetics, there is a revival of celestial symbolism - of a new angelology, we could say - based on assumptions quite different from the past. Here, the celestial spirit is nothing more than the metaphysical identity of man himself, in the courageous attempt to straighten himself to be exactly what his own arcane matrix wants him to be. Piali catches this duality of being, in a challenge with himself, overcoming every obstacle, conditioning or limit that existence interposes. His works are the heroic gesture of this arduous inner climb. Homeric warriors and fearless fighters, valiant amazons and pawing warhorses entangle in entangled stories and venture into celestial, numinous, arcane plot. These are real stories of wise men with their concealed and angelic faces, in their metaphysical and astral appearances. It is comedy’s tangle, both divine and human. And here are fires, shields, helmets, armours. Here are wings and bright trails. Here are fiery fires and manes in the wind. Here are unrolled clothes and drapes in an anxiety of denudation, of recognition of the last human truth. Everything in livid, magnificent, ferocious atmospheres, a lively performance of the liberation of the ego. They are not fantasy plaything, but balconies overlooking on the reality of the being. They are the frames of his defeats and rebirths, of his prayers and imprecations, of his enchantments and disenchantments. They are movies of his incoherence, illusions and contradictions, on the way of rediscovering his cosmic potential, made in the image and resemblance of the Universal Architect. And here we are at the dawn of the rediscovery of a deleted metaphysics, where finally to the individual is recognized the access to the scale of universal values. There is no doubt, that this is the true ferment of every genuine creative spirit. Indeed, the artist has always been a man who seeks pitilessly himself and here arises the desire of being authentic, his moral commitment with himself, his unique and unmistakable creativity. Thus angelicity, in Piali, is presented with a dual function: matter and spirit, prayer and action. This duplicity is manifested through two fundamental symbols - battle and flying - in twines, constraints and redemptions where is evoked the liberation and the concretization of the ego. This is a way to consider the stimulating and innovative spirituality, since by convention is considered spiritual the denial of the matter or its blind, asphyxiating subjugation to the spirit. Observe the marble sculpture entitled “Tensione” ("Tension"), a being of a relentless look, a real vampire! But it is the vampirism of the spirit that seeks itself, no matter what, without hurting, accumulating experiences and sucking vital sap from physical life, where it is projected to enrich itself and not to disperse into collective plagiarism. And right after, observe the elegant and hieratic bronze entitled "Sovrano" (“Sovereign”), where an ascensional extension of the human figure develops in a free twisting on itself and in a kind of a voluntary undertow upwards; but it is about its alter ego, its individual essence, its primary source of energy. These are two works that vividly contrast between them, two antithetical movements: one oriented towards immanence, the other toward transcendence. Yet, in this contrast, how much equilibrium and harmony! If on the one hand the spirit is fugitive, on the other it is the most tangible and present sign of life. Realizing this presence absence in sculpture is certainly not easy, where sovereign reigns the matter, the physical invasion of space, volumetry. In the pictorial work - by its nature more independent and more imaginative than sculpture - Piali has reached the equilibrium based on opposites and therefore, on the subtle game of matter and energy. But, already in the bronze bas-reliefs - where the secret sea of hidden and overflowing energy currents lights up – develops a very important passage towards the language of sculpture. Without removing anything from space and volume, Piali’s sculptural work is enriched of this internal movement of energy, of this crossing of invisible and arcane streams, that twist, tighten, flake apart, transform it until it returns to be aa pure energy. A game that does not mortify or penalize, but emphasizes the value of matter, and in this way the spatiality and volumetry. As an heterogeneous whole, one can say that the poetics of our time – except for genuine creative examples – have developed a very conventional idea of the artistic creation according to depersonalized or marginalized methods, in any case, socially pre-established. It is paradoxical that we have reached this conventionalism by using the ideal of art autonomy, in opposition to moralistic purposes, to which the consciousnessesim had previously attempted to address the Muses. Evidently, the formalistic ideal of art’s autonomy - as the Decadence’s art for art’s sake or art as life – once again, subordinates the creative phenomenon to social feature, even if it is overturned. What produces the artwork today is not the aspiration to an ideal world, dogmatically preconceived, but it would be the social current trend or constraint, liking or unliking of the moment, in a word that psycho-linguistic context that should be only the horizontal aspect of the artistic communication. In this way everything becomes a spitting image. Why? Because there is no verticality, there is no authenticity, there is no research of oneself. And the artist turns into a trivial predicted social operator. At this point I wonder: what changes if are the forms that suffocate the creativity, rather than the contents? “To contain” does not make sense, neither in its formal, significant, nor substantial, significance aspect. The work can hold, not contain, the uncontrollable creative energy! This one would like to be blocked by the relativistic absolutism of our time, as in the past it was overcome by the metaphysical arrogance, equally absolutistic. Fortunately, poets and artists did not always get involved in this perverted game and have been able to bring forth creative ideas. Piali is fully proving it. In my opinion, is this creativity, this ability to communicate with one’s mould and universal matrix, that must be revalued, in order to give new impetus to the numbed everyday life. Today, the progress seems to be dead and the existence seems to be his skeleton. But this is true only from a cultural point of view, because our culture is agonized and for this reason it must be renewed. Indeed, life is alive, if we want it individually. Stefano Piali’s work consists in this urgency of a profound renewal. His art is the sweet break with patterns. It is the irruption of the unknown in the well-known, in order to revive and awake it from its numbness. In his work there is the recall of the infinite, the revealing of being, the appearance of the universe. There is the finding of man with himself, his enjoyment of himself, giving voice to the depth of himself and joining his own spiritual energy. But this vertical communication with himself does not deprive the value or sense of horizontal communication; with its creative language it comes by reflection to those who live next, without aggression, arrogance and plagiarism, promoting in the beneficiary the authentic, but equally individual, impetus of universal elevation. Every creative wit creates its own spiritual feast, in a shock that can also strike other individuals, not to subdue them, but to spring in them the same rebirth, as in a contagion that calls upon moral and creative potential. Therefore, no longer art’s autonomy, but 'artist's! No longer art for art’s sake, but art for man! And not for man's ideas, as in the past, but for man, so that he can get acquainted with himself and fall in love more and more with himself, re-approaching his cosmic fatherland and finding the sense of his earthly adventure.


On the threshold of a new era, in which a cycle of human civilization comes to an end by the imminence of species "mutation", whose referents are unclear, we experience a major challenge and the desperate and suffered research of our Fate. Born in Marino's shelter, a few miles from Rome, in a state of concentration, away from criticism and current trend, Piali perceives the irreversible need of this research that connects the sinking in the state of the unconscious to the contemplation of the eternal cycles of nature and the cosmos, for a self-concept, as a man in this society and history, and for aconcept of totality. The tension of this infinite and absolute space extends the image to the extreme condition; it undergoes radical metamorphosis, protrudes until the change of its features and, finding itself at the edge, close to its disintegration into the final conflagration, that redirects it to the last figurative energy before its completion. In this passage there is the smoky leftover of an initial explosion: the beginning and the end are somewhere in this horizon, to the extreme of a cosmic diameter. The facts are presented to man as an instantaneous and unrepeatable event, as a right answer to the magic and sacred, that break into life and require to be accepted and loved, in a dimension that imposes its primacy on the past and future: it is the synchronicity, the dimension of myth ... Everything, even the myth, and its image live in its extreme, almost impossible reality; the work tends to make sense of this "process", or at least, in its materiality and presenceto be allusive, at the apex and spiral that swallow and pushes us to the abyss, to the opened and infinite space where to find the final, for now, position and function of Cosmos, the balance after the last fall ...


Piali is capable of great scenographic layouts, even when he frames the story into a small leaf of paper or into a private space for its sculptures. These scenographic skills derive from his ability to focus the attention on body’s shape as a mask of a spiritual body, which in turn invites to reveal its intimacy, to be the body of the form. Mannerist anatomical contortions, as if figures from the apse of the Florentine San Lorenzo or Bernini’s Roman angels had been detached from that wall of Pontormo and came to settle on Piali’s canvas or marble; these contortions overlap and place into a pyramidal ascent pensive nudes and dazed faces and tenderness of a limitless sensuality. Piali has an expressive happiness in which converge several periods of his personal critical itinerary. From a figuration where a cold realism blinds and freezes the naturalistic description, to a hyper-mannerism or “parallel-museum” decantation, where the quotation is tempered in the category of literary and contextual evocation to the scenery of the figurative story.

Dicembre 2013 - gennaio 2014

The human figure in Stefano Piali's painting and sculpture: between myth, reality and vision. In his paintings and sculptures Stefano Piali (Rome, 1956), an extraordinary interpreter of myths, reconciles two irreconcilable things: the dream and memory. He visually builds dreams, always keeping himself on the trace of both individual and collective memory. His figures are born from deep, individual emotions, and at the same time they are archetypes, original forms or fragments of a lost totality. Light dominates as a plastic-constructive element in mystical-mythological scenes, or it serves to "hallucinate" and make visionary the scenes of everyday life, a "Maternity", or the portrait of some models. All that always on the trail of the elusive ghost of beauty, which Plato had defined as a direct metaphysical experience. Post-modernity has recovered the beauty through art, myth and memory of art. Piali finds a deep spiritual freshness right through memory, the memory of tradition and great artists' figures. The memory of "classicism", which is present both as a problem, faced with a lucid interpretive perspective, and as a thematic repertoire: a primary ingredient that passes through painted canvas and sculpture and finds its main vector expansion exactly in the myth. His favourite characters are myths: heroes, centaurs, knights, angels, warriors, pervaded by the exhilarating energy of the movement, which for example is released in the theme of metamorphosis or flight. The myth triggers in Piali a process of linguistic fantasy capable of producing new forms, of a very significant emotional and formal impact. After all, De Chirico wrote that myth is what helps to reveal "the spectre" of reality, to "foresee the demon”: in 1920 he stepped forward himself to be "demonically classic”, because classicism can appear, in modern times, only in the form of a demon. Fascinating “dàimones” are therefore also Piali’s Angels, enigmatic manifestations of an intense inner reality and at the same time messengers of the eternal renewal of man’s thought and imagination. Like all his figures, whether pictorial or sculptural, they seem to be animated by the impulse of a liberating energy, beyond any stylistic-normative precept and beyond any stereotypical fixity. An energy that seems sometimes to refer to the hyperdynamic lines of Futurism and to the baroque poetics of the movement; an irradiating energy in space that gives to its structures a visionary power. Another example is a 1985 bronze, “Monumentoall’aviazionegenerale” (“Monument to the general aviation”), located at Ciampino airport. The theme of the body is clearly central in Piali's work, who reinterprets continuously the concept of myth and that of mimesis, according to a "visionary" aptitude in which every body creates its own absolute space. In his painting and sculpture the human figure is always central, in countertrend compared to the general overview. Our Millennium will have to deal with man, will have to reaffirm a new figuration rooted in history, but it needs a new contemporary art. In this regard, it expresses the artist as an imagine of itself. There is the need of a new humanism, because we are consuming all the essential values “that are leading back to man ".