natura non contristatur
natura non contristatur 2007 â€“ 2010
natura non contristatur 2007 â€“ 2010
NATURA NON CONTRISTATUR L’enigma della rappresentazione
Nella secolare volontà di rappresentare il mondo, gli artisti hanno dato vita alla creazione di strutture iconografiche codificate con rigore, alle quali riferirsi per definire la rappresentazione del reale, molta parte della quale coincide, frequentemente, con la rappresentazione della natura. Queste iconografie sono diventate, con il passare del tempo, vere e proprie categorie a cui riferirsi: si pensi ad esempio alla “natura morta”, codice linguistico che ci rimanda immediatamente ad una data costruzione d’immagine che obbedisce a regole precise. Oltre a ciò, si pensi come questi grandi temi d’indagine portino sempre con sé, automaticamente, un complesso e articolato bagaglio di strutture non solo visive, ma mentali, filosofiche, storiche, scientifiche, in una stratificazione che permette di leggere le immagini a più livelli percettivi. La narrazione connaturata ad una immagine, o a una serie di esse, acquista allora parole nuove, sfumature sottili, aderisce con velocità ad un pensiero o lo suggerisce per mezzo di segni e simboli, giunge alla interconnessione tra elementi del pensiero, approdando ad un codice identificativo per mezzo di strutture stabilite. A tal proposito, Arthur Schopenhauer scrive: <Avendo riconosciuto nella volontà l’essenza in sé del mondo, e in tutti i fenomeni del mondo null’altro che l’oggettità di lei (…) Non più volontà: non più rappresentazione, non più mondo. Davanti a noi non resta invero che il nulla. Ma quel che si ribella contro codesto dissolvimento nel nulla, la nostra natura, è anch’essa nient’altro che la volontà di vivere. Volontà di vivere siamo noi stessi, volontà di vivere è il nostro mondo. L’aver noi tanto orrore del nulla, non è se non un’altra manifestazione del come avidamente vogliamo la vita, e niente siamo se non questa volontà, e niente conosciamo se non lei. ( Il mondo come volontà e rappresentazione, pp.138-139). La volontà e la rappresentazione sono dunque per il filosofo l’una derivata dall’altra, in un collegamento che le tiene legate e ne motiva l’esistenza. Se la volontà determina dunque la rappresentazione, si comprende quanto possa essere profonda ed importate la sua responsabilità. Allontanandoci dalle definizioni filosofiche, resta comunque un dato certo: la codificazione della realtà, del mondo, dei fenomeni che lo abitano e popolano, e soprattutto come rappresentare tutto questo, è da sempre il grande interrogativo degli artisti.
Il segno è l’arma, il campo di battaglia può essere di carta, di tela, di legno. E quando la raffigurazione sceglie di soffermarsi sulla natura, ciò che si mostra appare per raccontare storie al di là del dato visibile. Nel caso di Lanfranco Quadrio, l’oggetto di questa rappresentazione è la caccia: ed ecco che allora tutto diviene ancora più complesso. Se la raffigurazione della natura ha in sé un dato estetico tendente ad una armonia complessiva, questo compendio in movimento di animali- a volte insieme a frammenti di natura - mette in mostra la tensione. L’artista ne è consapevole, sa bene che quello che si vede, un istante prima, non sarà più lo stesso, un istante dopo. Due animali si fronteggiano, il branco fugge, l’assalto è in corso: non è dato conoscere l’esito finale dello scontro. La battaglia restituisce l’affanno della vita, ma in una chiave diversa, quella in cui, sottolinea ancora Schopenhauer, “Natura non contristatur”, la natura non conosce sofferenza, frase che racchiude la motivazione concettuale di questa esposizione. La caccia mette in scena un dramma, dal punto di vista dell’uomo, ma lo spirito più autentico della natura la nega, rinnovando la secolare dicotomia uomo-natura. E così lo scontro, la morte, la perdita, fanno parte di una dimensione altra rispetto a quella umana. L’invito è dunque quello di osservare la lotta con occhi diversi, lontani dal sentimento; ma è davvero possibile allontanare il giudizio umano da un fatto? La raffigurazione della lotta, dunque, oppone resistenza, per prima cosa, al giudizio degli uomini. Lanfranco Quadrio sa tutto questo, quando decide di graffiare sulle lastre gli assalti dei lupi, gli animali braccati da altri animali, le fauci aperte, i corpi straziati. Restituire visibilità al reale diventa allora il vero motivo della raffigurazione, allontanandosi da qualsiasi giudizio. Anche la caccia - e qui degli uomini non c’è mai traccia di presenza - diventa paradigma di questo pensiero: è un fatto, semplicemente. Però poi accade che il segno dell’incisione racconti con tale forza se stesso, arrivando a cancellarsi; oppure capita che la ripetizione assuma il tono compulsivo di un reiterazione che tutto anestetizza. Si procede ad un certo punto per contrasti: nel labirinto di segni convulsi, appaiono improvvise cancellazioni, ed ecco che questo spostamento minimale assume un peso determinante. Le incisioni, raccolte in serie, cambiano ancora il senso della loro presenza, modificano la loro struttura e obbligano lo sguardo a seguire nuovi sentieri. La pittura di Lanfranco Quadrio segue con forza il senso del segno: perché subito, sotto la pelle della superficie pittorica, il disegno emerge con forza, riannoda i segni con le sue parole più forti. Una pittura disegnata, un disegno dal tratto pittorico: il confine è di difficile definizione. Dalle immagini fitte di presenze inestricabili, si passa poi ad uno sguardo che pare un microscopio: l’ala di una libellula, una piuma, un frammento di articolazione. Lanfranco Quadrio osserva con minuzia, il rigore è scientifico, ma poi ecco che all’improvviso c’è una deviazione dal tracciato. Ed è proprio questa a rimettere tutto in gioco, nel segno della pittura, con la volontà della rappresentazione.
Un istante prima, un istante dopo
Solchi di caccia
Si levò un chiasso, un clamore di bracchi raccolti,/che attorno suonarono le rocce./ Li incitavano i cacciatori con i corni e con la bocca,/ in muta si precipitarono quelli/ tra una pozza nel bosco e una rupe tremenda./(…) Era un meraviglioso cinghiale:/ vecchio, aveva da tempo lasciato la mandria,/ ma era enorme, il cinghiale più grande,/ terribile quando grugniva. Molti spaurirono allora,/ ché tre uomini subito rovesciò al primo cozzo,/ poi balzò via veloce senza essere ferito./(…) Spesso, accerchiato,/ quello affronta la muta,/ ferisce i cani che levano/ latrati e guaiti./(…) Finché venne il cavaliere spronando il cavallo:/ lo vide accerchiato, i suoi uomini intorno./ Agile smonta, lascia il destriero,/ sguaina la spada lucente, avanza sicuro,/ veloce attraverso il torrente ove attende la fiera./(…) Il cinghiale caricò dritto sull’uomo/ e furono un mucchio uomo e animale/ dove più veloce l’acqua correva;/ ma la peggio l’ebbe la bestia,/ ché l’uomo prese la mira con cura e allo scontro/ piantò la lama nel petto, l’infilò fino all’elsa spaccandole il cuore. (poeta anonimo di Sir Gawain e Il Cavaliere Verde – XIV sec.) Quando per la prima volta ho visto le scene di caccia di Lanfranco, dal segno vorticoso e dinamico, ho provato una sensazione anacronistica eppure familiare, atavica, relativa al rapporto tra preda e predatore. Cervi, cinghiali, cani e presenze umane scatenate dal feroce turbinio di corpi che lottano tra la vita e la morte. Questo rapporto diventa qui sinonimo di caccia, quella caccia che dai tempi più remoti gli uomini hanno praticato nei confronti di altri animali. Il pensiero allora è andato indietro nel tempo quando i primi rappresentanti del genere Homo, da cacciati si trasformano in cacciatori. Questi primi uomini in principio si cibavano di carne in maniera occasionale, quando trovavano un animale morto per cause naturali o abbandonato da altri carnivori. In particolare l’uomo inizia a cacciare i primi cinghiali e cervi (insieme a bisonti e elefanti) circa cinquecento mila anni fa, come attestano alcuni resti di pasto rinvenuti in siti africani e europei risalenti a quel periodo. Ma la caccia a questi mammiferi si diffonde nelle regioni mediterranee ed europee sessanta mila anni fa, quando l’aumento della loro popolazione viene favorita da cambiamenti climatici e dalla formazione di ampie zone boscose. Nelle migliaia di anni seguenti e nel corso dell’evoluzione umana l’attività
della caccia si è sempre più praticata e sviluppata grazie alla realizzazione di strumenti, a partire dai propulsori e dagli arpioni, e di strategie ogni volta più adeguati. Ma per poter osservare le prime rappresentazioni di caccia dobbiamo attendere che il sapiens realizzi pitture e graffiti rupestri, durante il paleolitico superiore; dai resti fossili, dagli utensili e proprio da queste immagini si evince come a quei tempi eravamo già degli abilissimi cacciatori. (fig. 1) Una svolta decisiva relativa al rapporto predatore-preda e alle tecniche di caccia avviene circa dodici mila anni fa e si deve all’addomesticamento del cane, prezioso e fedele collaboratore capace di fiutare, stanare, attaccare le prede, persino di morire per l’uomo. La caccia ha rappresentato per molti gruppi e per molto tempo la principale fonte di sostentamento, per poi regolamentarne cultura e economia; ma ciò soprattutto fino all’avvento dell’agricoltura. In epoca storica la caccia e l’apparato iconografico ad essa legata verranno associati al potere e al prestigio degli uomini più potenti; i re e i nobili al suo seguito attraverso la caccia possono dimostrare quella forza e quel coraggio degni di un grande guerriero. L’esercizio della caccia, ora si nobilita a arte venatoria, diventa elemento indispensabile nell’educazione dei giovani: riuscire a catturare un grosso animale rientra tra quelle abilità che legittimano a diventare adulti e valorosi. Questo in molte civiltà, in particolare, quella a noi più vicina, quella greca, dove la caccia era accomunata alla guerra e alla ginnastica.(fig. 2) L’Ulisse della mitologia per esempio, giunto finalmente in patria dopo il lungo viaggio, viene riconosciuto dalla sua vecchia balia per la ferita della zanna di un cinghiale riportata quando era un ragazzino. L’atto della caccia e l’idea di superiorità dell’uomo rispetto ad altri animali vengono però in un certo senso “ristabiliti” attraverso l’offerta delle prede che vengono sacrificate agli dei, instaurando così l’uomo un rapporto quasi divino in favore di una caccia moderata e selettiva, al contrario di quella eccessiva e smodata praticata dalle popolazioni considerate barbare. La caccia al cinghiale era comunque difficilissima per tutti. Si pensava che le sue zanne fossero incandescenti e che bruciassero i peli e la pelle dei cacciatori e dei cani. Nel trattato “La caccia”, Senofonte dice che per affrontare questa bestia bisognava munirsi di cani selezionati, come quelli indiani o cretesi, armarsi di giavellotti, spiedi e trappole, ma soprattutto
bisognava dar prova di possedere una grande forza d’animo. Intorno al II sec. d.C. si diffondono le grandi cacce organizzate dagli imperatori romani i quali per fortificare il corpo e lo spirito dovevano eccellere nell’arte della pacificazione, della guerra e della caccia. Ai romani il gusto della carne di cinghiale piaceva molto ed esso rappresentava un animale con cui valeva la pena misurarsi, essendo molto più coraggioso e combattivo del pauroso e mansueto cervo. Spesso così si avventuravano i cacciatori nel sottobosco, a piedi, in attesa della lotta cruenta, quando il cinghiale, sentendosi minacciato, scatena la sua furia iniziando una lotta sanguinosa e turbolenta con i cani prima di sostenere il corpo a corpo con l’uomo e aspettare il colpo mortale alla gola. Con la caduta dell’impero e per tutto il medioevo, come si può notare nelle immagini dei trattati venatori, il rapporto tra uomo e caccia diventa più diretto e si identifica con il potere. Le caratteristiche del cinghiale, cioè la forza, l’aggressività e la ferocia diventano dei modelli che un buon cavaliere deve conoscere e l’animale stesso impersona il suo nemico.
La selvaggina, un tempo accessibile a tutti, diventa un esclusivo
privilegio dei ricchi, i poveri infatti non possono più cacciare nelle foreste e nei possedimenti del re, e col passare del tempo le limitazioni e le norme in tal senso diventano sempre più restrittive. Questi ricchi signori diventano di fatto i soli padroni degli animali presenti nei loro vastissimi territori. Dalla fine del XII secolo in poi i parchi e le riserve di caccia si moltiplicano, vengono curati e introdotti animali, nel caso non ce ne fossero abbastanza. Durante le battute di caccia il principe però non si sporca più le mani, non misura la propria forza e la propria abilità, ora fa il raffinato, gioca sempre più recitando una parte per ostentare sfarzo e potere. Chi trovava sconsigliabile e troppo mondana la pratica venatoria era la Chiesa, basti pensare a tutti quei santi che riescono a ammansire e proteggere anche le bestie più feroci, come san Francesco il lupo o Sant’Ambrogio il leone. Ovviamente tra papi e alti prelati c’era chi disattendeva questo consiglio religioso, essendo particolarmente appassionato di caccia.
La caccia assume via via il carattere di un cerimoniale dove dame
e cavalieri fanno sfoggio di gioielli, abiti, armi e cani. Cani, sì. I nobili e veri appassionati cacciatori si dedicavano personalmente ai loro affezionati cani, spendendo patrimoni per le loro cure o alimentazione; mentre le signore alla moda tenevano spesso un cane da “compagnia”, di piccola
taglia e di razza pregiata. I Medici, gli Sforza o i Gonzaga, in Italia, erano tra le famiglie più importanti che per passione e tradizione si dedicarono all’arte venatoria e cinegetica. A Mantova Federico II Gonzaga commissiona addirittura a Giulio Romano il disegno per la sepoltura dei suoi amati cani. In genere ai cinghiali, stanati dai bracchi, ci pensavano i cani più forti, i mastini e gli alani; ai cervi pensavano i veloci veltri e levrieri. Fra gli artisti che rappresentano scene di caccia al cervo e al cinghiale, due incisori e pittori fiamminghi, il primo che lavora alla corte dei Medici, Jan Van Der Straet (1523-1605), detto Stradano (fig. 3, 4), il secondo è Bernard Van Orley (1488 ca.- 1541) pittore di corte della governatrice Margherita d’Austria a Bruxelles (fig. 5). Balza subito agli occhi la somiglianza stilistica e di movimento caotico tra alcuni particolari delle incisioni dei due, che operano in piena età rinascimentale, e quelli di Lanfranco, artista contemporaneo, dalla potente carica espressiva. Tutti e tre hanno riflettuto, elaborato e patito davanti una scena di caccia, rivelandosi attenti osservatori della natura nelle sue varie manifestazioni (fig. 6, 7). Sempre più spesso inoltre i cani accompagnano i padroni nei loro ritratti ufficiali. Le armi da fuoco anche se compaiono alla fine del 1400, non furono molto usate per la caccia, se non nel 1700. Anche qui però non manca qualche eccezione, dal momento che qualcuno, come Michelangelo Biondo, lamentava una caccia sleale nelle campagne di Roma, condotta a scopo di lucro, e una diminuzione del numero di prede causata proprio dall’uso di un arnese di ferro che emette un fuoco scoppiettante. Tra Seicento e Settecento i diversi e ripetuti disboscamenti alterano la natura e di conseguenza si modificano gli habitat della fauna selvatica di molti territori.
Bisogna comunque aspettare la Rivoluzione Francese perché la
caccia subisca un processo di trasformazione in senso “democratico”: un numero sempre maggiore di non-nobili, sotto il pagamento di una tassa, poteva adesso ottenere facilmente quei diritti di caccia, fino ad allora esclusivo privilegio regale. Nelle colonie intanto esploratori e militari iniziano a cacciare gli animali esotici e rari per farne trofei, decimando intere specie. Durante il 1800 la caccia diventa oggetto di contraddizioni e iniziano le polemiche tra chi
ne è fautore e chi ne è contrario per questioni etiche e morali. Inoltre la trasformazione del territorio, la bonifica di ampie zone, l’aumento demografico e l’utilizzo di armi sempre più sofisticate hanno causato sia una drastica riduzione di molte specie fino all’estinzione, come avvenuto in molte zone, per esempio, per il lupo o lo stambecco, sia lo spostamento di grandi mammiferi in zone sempre meno accessibili all’uomo. I cacciatori allora si dedicano alle prede minori. Nello stesso periodo si individuano i primi sforzi a favore della conservazione degli animali minacciati e si redigono punizioni più dure. Le prime iniziative di tutela naturalistica nascono all’inizio del 1900, con la realizzazione di grandi parchi nazionali. Oggi sono poche le popolazioni al mondo che vivono di caccia ed hanno mantenuto nel tempo un buon rapporto uomo-animale-ambiente; ma noi occidentali cerchiamo giustamente di limitare la caccia quanto più possibile attraverso una mirata legislazione. La caccia si è trasformata in gusto per l’avventura, in occasione di contatto con la natura, in sfida della natura, in uno sport. Lanfranco non è un cacciatore, ma un saggio “raccoglitore”, un artista che coglie e che racconta storie e scene di caccia, momenti che evocano insieme la vitalità frenetica degli animali come in una danza cinica e l’immobile senso di morte di un cinghiale ucciso e appena squarciato. Le sue opere hanno la capacità di far scattare indietro una memoria lontana, di scatenare innati pensieri e primitivi istinti. Barbara Truden
Natura non contristatur
Natura non contristatur: Nature knows not sadness. I have seen the saying translated as Nature does not grieve, and Nature does not sympathise. But an expert informs me that the con of contristatur, in Classical Latin, serves only to lend stress to the tristatur. Nature really does not sadden. In what follows I wish to consider not just the most recent work of Lanfranco Quadrio, but how it has left its mark over the last ten years or more. If it seems often to illustrate – more than that, to embody – the stoic wisdom contained in the saying, then perhaps it also begs questions of it. For where exactly does nature begin? Where does the human end? Questions that have racked many, not least among whom the Marquis de Sade, towards the end of the Siècle des Lumières, who wondered if we humans could ever, cultural beings that we irreducibly are, be thoroughly natural; as he wondered – the correlative – if humans, even libertines, could ever be full-bloodedly unnatural (given that the wish to escape from nature could itself be the most natural wish of all)?
Mention of the Divine Marquis and his epoch may not be entirely
out of place, for I am convinced that Quadrio’s work would have appealed to him, and to it. Not because it is heartless or cruel: as we know, the Marquis de Sade was not himself, in a brutal age, a cruel man, and asked to be moved from his cell so as not to have to witness executions by guillotine. Rather because, like the surface of Sade’s prose, Quadrio’s work is on one level highly orderly, containing the neo-classical sense of proportion and decorum we associate with all that is most civil and civilised in eighteenth-century thought, painting, architecture – Quadrio’s etchings of wings would not look amiss in a Georgian drawing-room or as part of an Adam frieze. One finds here the scientist’s fascination with the functioning of the organism which is readily associated with the Age of Reason, but which can of course be traced back through the anatomical etchings of Dürer and the sketches of Leonardo, through the writings of Francis Bacon, to the medical research of the late-Renaissance and Middle Ages, and, beyond that, to Galen and the naturalists of Roman times, to Lucretius and Pliny the Elder, to name but a few (Quadrio’s figures put me in mind of the carved wooden models in the beautiful Archiginnasio, the seventeenth-century Antaomical Theatre, of Bologna University). As unmistakably contemporary as Quadrio’s art is, it is also rooted in a certain enlightened empiricist tradition – even as, like Sade whose orderly prose aims for maximal disorder – it strains against this same tradition.
Before object or image, however, line – superabundant lines – and
less frequently colour; before the whole, the detail. Quadrio’s work invites us to step forward before it compels us to step back. And when we accept the invitation, approaching, it is indeed strain we witness through the sheer bravura of the surface, in a proliferation of lines so fantastical that the word technique hardly does justice. What we find is the labour of an artist who has purposefully chosen laboriousness because in his labour and the traces it leaves is contained a devotion that serves as a powerful counter to any ostensible severity. (Rather as, to extend the parallel, Sade’s libertines at the moment of consummation, demand that a strenuous order, an effortful orderliness, be maintained – maintained above all in the ruthlessness of the orgiastic moment.) Quadrio customarily works with burin, most arduous of the engraver’s methods, most primitive and exacting, where none of chemical transformations of the etcher is employed, no acid baths, but rather a mechanics of digging, as the copper plate is incised and the printer’s ink then applied. His is a muscular art requiring considerable physical strength and stamina if the artist is to deploy his visions. His is an art, then, of gesture; but gesture never histrionic or grandiose, restrained as it is by his preferred technique, chastened by the sheer closeness of his observation. And it is an art that is resisted, beyond technique and eye, by the very intractability of the objects he chooses to depict, by their stubborn appurtenance to the non-human world – his insects and birds, his dogs and horses and stags (the three cs of his Sicilian zooscape, cani, cavalli, cervi); resisted even, I want to add – perhaps especially – by his barely human humans.
natura non contristatur
Somebody once explained to me that for a man to fly, were he endowed with wings, he would require pectoral muscles of almost unimaginable strength, far far beyond what might be mustered by even the strongest of our athletes. No doubt this is one of the reasons why there is something so touching about those early silent films where aviators attempt to flap their prosthetic wings before plummeting vaingloriously to the ground. Not by chance was Leonardo fascinated by flying machines: for while humans can crawl, walk, run, swim, they signally, definingly, cannot fly. Our dreams of soaring attest to it; our balletic grandes jetées launch us upwards only to land us ponderously back on the boards a second later; while in our airplanes, which offer mere parodies of flight, it is increasingly the world that appears to move while the flyer stays stationary. The gesture that appears effortless to the merest insect or bird is what requires man’s greatest ingenuity, and what is ever liable to be revealed – by Icarus, by Icelandic ash clouds – as ingenuity insufficient.
When, in his engravings, Quadrio depicts a dragonfly in flight, stilling
the wing-beat to what we would normally need our most sophisticated instruments to register, we witness something like the contrary of what a photographic image, however rapid the shutter, reveals to us. For a photograph, in this respect like an airplane, reminds us of man’s distance from the natural: the photograph of an insect in flight, through its easy verisimilitude, through the effortless transparency of its very naturalism, makes us hauntingly aware of how man’s technology has in fact brought him not one whit closer to the insect’s accomplishment.
The photograph of an insect in flight makes me feel earth-bound. Nor
does the photograph let me neglect for long an awareness that where emulation and empathy are denied, other forms of capture may be called to do service, mastery offering a seductive if unwholesome compensation for incapacity: the bees that children trap in jars… the canary in its cage… the peregrine trained to return to the sultan’s gloved fist. While Quadrio’s engravings, where effort is, I suggested, always visible, are the very opposite of naturalistic: their techne being anything but occluded, they thereby admit their failing, their fallingshort. Through their almost hilarious doubleness – bravura exuberance jostling with primitive scratching and gouging – they also demand of us that we do the work required to sustain the image and what it depicts: to complete it, to make it real, to let it take off. In that sympathetic moment of perception, as in dream – though here is a dream we can repeat – we may perhaps be afforded the chance not just to capture flight, but momentarily, ourselves, to fly. Weightlessness is brought to earth, is grounded, in Quadrio’s most recurrent and memorable image: of a single bird’s wing, which he presents in numerous sizes, through drawings, engravings, paintings. Curiously, even in his diptychs, the wings remain somehow single – two single wings more than a pair of wings. The very detachment, of wing from body, of the artist’s gaze from any nostalgia at what has been revealed as mortal – more ephemeral even than the ephemerids – asks once more of the viewer a willingness to stay with contraries. For if the wing is adored in its detail, it is punished in its severing; monumentalised in its almost imperial aspect, it is also exposed in its feathered vulnerability; mythopoeic, these wings are also mythoclastic.
When I published Lanfranco Quadrio’s images alongside new poems by
the great Irish poet Paul Muldoon (in The Cahiers Series, no.8), it was one of these etched wings that my co-publisher and designer Ornan Rotem chose for the centre spread. In Quadrio’s work, as in Muldoon’s, myths are forever being evoked and elaborated, only then to be displaced and dissolved. In both artists’ work the fragment is both intensely real and focused (the excess of lines in certain of Quadrio’s drawings is reminiscent of that around the heads in Giacometti’s portraits), and at the same time oneiric, ready to expand into some new flight – a flight of associative fancy as may be. The title of the cahier and of the longest poem in it is “When the Pie was Opened”, which title itself derives from a nursery rhyme called “Sing a Song of Sixpence”. The rhyme, which probably has its origins in a joke played on nobility in Medieval times, when a blackbird pie would be baked with a pastry crust covering live birds, tells of just such an unexpected departure – a rebirth into song:
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before a king?
Part IV of Muldoon’s “When the Pie was Opened” tells of a bird that dies – but not without first leaving its fertile mark:
A pheasant farm where we watched a pheasant’s ascent
translate into a dent
on our automobile. Wham.
I bet they could make out even on the jam-cam steam rising from the vent
Of a wound dressed with sphagnum moss.
Sphagnum moss was used well into the twentieth century, until penicillin became readily available, to treat wounds of the flesh: nature’s revivifying elixir applied to nature’s wounds. The nursery rhyme ends with a different sort of return of nature, as it takes its revenge upon a maid: “And down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose”. There are more ways of taking off, more ways by which nature can return to us – and of this Lanfranco Quadrio’s wings remind us – than by wing-beat alone.
natura non contristatur
cani, cavalli, cervi
I have often marvelled over how laconically, how unsentimentally, Homer’s heroes die in The Iliad. And by comparison how tear-jerkingly, how humanly, how modernly, dies Odysseus’s dog Argos in Book XVII of The Odyssey. Not that Homer approaches the sort of anthropomorphising by which we moderns have colonised nature; yet in the epithet attributed to “patient-hearted Odysseus’ dog”, in the tale of the dog’s sad and masterless life, in the way Argos sits on his dung-heap wagging his tale and flattening his ears when he recognises his master who has been absent at the wars these nineteen years, in the way Odysseus “secretly wiped away a tear” – in these I find the seeds of a sentimentalised depiction of nature that can blossom at any moment into a full-blown kitsch, one so familiar to us today that most of the time we do not even notice it. True, the focus is firmly not on what Argos feels but on what Argos does. Yet perhaps I am justified in wishing to place Lanfranco Quadrio’s dogs in the world of The Iliad more than in that of The Odyssey.
Hand in hand with our merciless scientific probing of the natural world
has gone a sentimentalising of it, to the point where it is often hard to distinguish it from our own human projections. And the gap between what I am reductively characterising as the Homers of The Illiad and The Odyssey, is not simply a historical one, either in the sense that the one text is earlier than the other or in the sense that the opposition – between what I might provisionally call “objectivism” and “subjectivism”, for want of better terms – is limited to this moment in antiquity. Rather, the opposition repeats itself over and over, and could probably be located at any moment in the past. In his novel Immortality, for example, Milan Kundera stages something like the same opposition, between Goethe on the one hand and Beethoven on the other, as he launches his critique of Homo sentimentalis, “man who has raised feelings to a category of value”.
Quadrio is, I want to suggest, on the side not of Homo sentimentalis but
of “objectivism”, of Kundera’s Goethe: hence, his animals really are other. His dogs inhabit worlds barely accessible to humans – or accessible only in states of utter abjection, upside-down un-states. His dogs are hollowed out even as they seem, gnawing and gnashing, to be intent on hollowing out the world around them; skeletal and ravenous, the stuff of urban nightmare that news reports inform us is becoming daily reality as strays roam in packs through the disaffected wastelands of our cities. They are not dogs we should like to meet, yet we are drawn to them: I am made to think of those lines from “The Burial of the Dead”, in T. S. Eliot’s own Waste Land –
‘Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!’
What Quadrio’s dogs yield us is aptly described in presentation of a
further poet, Ted Hughes, given here by the character Elizabeth Costello in the novel bearing her name. The passage comes from a chapter entitled “The Lives of Animals”, by a writer himself famous for his critical views on how we treat animals, J. M. Coetzee:
With Hughes it is a matter â€“ I emphasize â€“ not of inhabiting another mind but of inhabiting another body. That is the kind of poetry I bring to your attention today: poetry that does not try to find an idea in the animal, that is not about the animal, but is instead the record of an engagement with him.
What is peculiar about poetic engagements of this kind is that,
no matter with what intensity they take place, they remain a matter of complete indifference to their objects. In this respect they are different from love poems, where your intention is to move your object.
Quadrio’s dogs tug unsentimentally at the edges of our consciousness as they tug at the limbs that surround them; they let us see, for a liberating awful moment, what it will be when the tables have turned – when the stray is the centre, and the centre has strayed. At times, the dogs which have traditionally hunted with horses turn upon, turn into them. Less obviously gregarious than dogs or stags, so I have even to search for the collective noun – a troop? a herd? – horses are nonetheless almost never single in Quadrio’s work. So overwhelmed is the singular by the collective that the membrane of skin and bone has itself become permeable: horse becomes horse… becomes horses… becomes equine assembly or assemblage… while horizontal turns vertical… and the melée ascends into something approaching a transfiguration.
What may start in the turmoil of conflict – titles such as Il branco,
Trojan scene, and Lotta particolare point towards an agon – seems to end in a tourbillon in which to be distinguished, individuated, is somehow both an achievement and an abdication. If the transformations owe something to Ovid and his metamorphoses, and the technique – the etchings in particular – pays homage to Rembrandt, then it may be to a more local or regional spirit that these images are also indebted. When Walter Benjamin tries to sum up his thoroughly disorienting experience, as a Northerner accustomed to interiority and introspection, used to the Protestant-bourgeois ideals of productivity and profit, order and compartmentalisation, which he undergoes when visiting Southern Italy in the 1920s – Naples in particular – what is the salient concept he coins? Porosity: one thing turns into another in the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Such porosity of identities – day merges into night, inside into outside, defeat into victory, gain into loss – as Lanfranco Quadrio’s horses demonstrate; while, recalcitrant at the last, they hold out against the envious humanising that would turn them into any sort of centaur.
In that northern country from which I originate, you can hardly walk
into a country house of any grandeur without their peering glassy-eyed out of the walls at you. As the feudal clan system was effectively abolished in the eighteenth century, and as Sir Walter Scott reinvented my native Scotland as the ideal locus of Highland romance, the stag came to be emblem of a nostalgic Romantic apprehension of the majesty of nature; of which the epitome is Edwin Landseer’s iconic 1851 painting Monarch of the Glen. Landseer’s canvas seeks to honour the stag, while the stag’s head leering out from the wood-lined walls of country houses – and the bigger the antlers the better! – may seek to honour the hunter who killed it: two sides, however, of the very same coin. As hunting passes from mode of survival to ritual of manliness and baronial proprietorship, covering itself in a patina of Medieval chivalry as it does so, the stag comes to be valued not for its meat but for its presentability as a trophy.
Quadrio’s recent work abounds in images from the margins, from the
aftermath, of the hunt. His depictions of trophies, of stags, of wild boar (a fourth c, his cinghiali), exemplify a late flourishing of this manly chivalric tradition – and this tradition’s ruination. To shift away from my homeland, Quadrio’s depiction of hunting may contain traces of manuals of the past, such as the great late-Medieval Gaston Phoebus’s Livre de chasse; or, to move closer to his own home, the faint echo may perhaps be heard of the hunting horns of Ferdinand II’s court. But there is in the spirit of Quadrio’s hunting scenes something far from courtly or ritually consensual. More than mere regional association points me towards the hunting scene in Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard. There, the Prince, Don Fabrizio, sets out on his day of hunting with his trusty retainer Tumeo, and at first his expedition appears mythically resonant, affirmative of historical continuity:
the scrub clinging to the slopes was still in the very same state of scented
tangle in which it had been found by Phoenicians, Dorians and Ionians when they disembarked in Sicily, that America of antiquity. Don Fabrizio and Tumeo climbed up and down, slipped and were scratched by thorns, just as an Archedamos or Philostrates must have got tired and scratched twenty-five centuries before.
Yet no sooner has the prey been shot than the observations of the Prince
veer away from long-established custom and tradition toward a world resembling more closely the one we find before us here:
It was a wild rabbit; its humble dun-coloured coat had been unable to
save it. Horrible wounds lacerated snout and chest. Don Fabrizio found himself stared at by big black eyes soon overlaid by a glaucous veil; they were looking at him with no reproval, but full of tortured amazement at the whole ordering of things; the velvety ears were already cold, the vigorous paws contracting in rhythm, still living symbol of useless flight; the animal had died tortured by anxious hopes of salvation, imagining it could still escape when it was already caught.
Quadrio might not go along with the Prince’s next thought, which has
him finding in the rabbit a mirror of his own experience (“just like so many human beings,” he reflects); indeed it may be that for him the Prince’s observations of the dying rabbit would already be overly sentimental. Yet where the Prince’s thoughts now tend, towards dissolutions of all kinds – physical, social, political – does reveal something of the complex relation of hunter and hunted that pervades Quadrio’s work; Lampedusa reminds us that the hunter is hunting – hunting for – what can not – can no longer – be captured, living or dead. Quadrio may entitle his stag’s heads I trionfi, or Testa di cervo, or Trofeo di caccia, but it is hard to discern just who or what is triumphant: his trophies ironically defy Landseer as much as they do the stag’s well-displayed head on the baronial wall; they eliminate the very plausibility of taxidermic appropriation. Yet even in his most affecting images Quadrio does not tell us what the stag feels, still less what we should feel about its demise.
Pride and pathos being so winnowed, these images set me to thinking, first, of a remark made by Samuel Beckett in 1934 in a letter to his friend the art connoisseur Tom McGreevy, after he has admired a landscape by Cézanne for its ability to present nature freed of man’s influence or intrusion: “Perhaps it is the one bright spot in a mechanistic age – the deanthropomorphizations of the artist”. Then, these images from the hunt set me thinking of a poem by Baudelaire, “Une Charogne”, in which the poet comes across a corpse – of a dog as may be – which is so far gone in decomposition that it has become a cradle of new life, a burst of colours and sounds and scents:
Le soleil rayonnait sur cette pourriture, Comme afin de la cuire à point, Et de rendre au centuple à la grande Nature Tout ce qu’ensemble elle avait joint; Et le ciel regardait la carcasse superbe Comme une fleur s’épanouir. La puanteur était si forte que sur l’herbe Vous crûtes vous évanouir. Les mouches bourdonnaient sur ce ventre putride, D’où sortaient de noirs bataillons De larves, qui coulaient comme un épais liquide Le long de ces vivants haillons. (The sun shone down upon that putrescence, As if to roast it to a turn, And to give back a hundredfold to great Nature The elements she had combined; And the sky was watching that superb cadaver Blossom like a flower. So frightful was the stench that you believed You’d faint away upon the grass. The blow-flies were buzzing round that putrid belly, From which came forth black battalions Of maggots, which oozed out like a heavy liquid All along those living tatters.
trans. William Aggeler)
Between the corpse and the voyeur, Baudelaire reminds us as does Quadrio, there may be an almost hallowed bond; as between the hunter and the butcher. While between the butcher and the anatomist, if there is collusion, there is also a rivalry almost as fierce as that between grave-digger and dog. The eviscerated carcasses of boar, the mandibles, the extraordinary sketches of rib cages with just a smear of haemoglobin â€“ these appear to have been snatched from off the butcherâ€™s table; yet with none of the symbolic or allegorical overload that we find in those sides of beef depicted by Francis Bacon, where the eye swiftly cedes to the brain in search of allegory; rather, a closeness of attention and fondness that encourages us to look closer still, and that calls to mind the excitement experienced when peering through a microscope for the first time, when the seemingly inert object reveals itself in all its teeming, rhythmical, beautifully ordered chaos.
natura non contristatur
Humans Of the same order as his other creatures, only less so: unredeemed by any superior degree of coherence, any completeness of skin, of surface, of container that might imply a contained â€“ a sensate self, a soul, a cogito; hounded by time, which has itself expired, when not hounded more literally. And where horses rise, and insects fly, where even dogs may jump, man tends only downwards: if time is not on his side, nor is space, homo no more erectus, cursed by gravity indeed, epigone of Icarus, habitually falling, plummeting as in some cursedly wry reminder of the effortless plunge of that famous Etruscan diver near Paestum.
What distinguishes the human is, perhaps, solitariness (if not solitude):
though this is hardly a source of regret, for if these figures were to assemble, then grouped they might start to resemble Zoran Musicâ€™s drawings made in Dachau. They fall alone from some absent sky as if this were the condition of their being: Cado ergo sum. And when, freighted, they land on earth, they never seem to land quite heavily enough â€“ on earth rather than of the earth, deprived of an absorption that might have provided some relief for their desiccated flesh and bones, their bitter angularity.
They are welcomed to earth by those “friends to men”, the dogs, whose teeth sink into them: hard to imagine they taste anything like the succulent Actaeon. This fall, oft’-repeated, if it cannot but contain echoes of The Fall – the titles are La Caduta and La Chute – is in the end no more allegorical than might be, say, the experience of being bitten by a stray on a deserted street while being distracted by imagining the hounds of Hell. “It’s a dog’s life,” we say, proverbially, to signify just how hard life – just how heavy human existence – can be. “It’s a human’s life,” the dogs in Quadrio’s work are growling to one other.
Natura non contristatur.
It may of course be logically impossible for an artist ever truly to be part of na-
ture, dealing as he must in representations, in simulacra, techne rather than physis, ars rather than natura. And then the artist, like most humans in this respect if not in others – yes, even an artist as little disposed to sentimentalising as Lanfranco Quadrio – has his intimations of mortality no doubt, his deal of dolour, which he must needs share.
Yet art lives not on logic alone. I began by invoking the Marquis de Sade and the
terrible giddy moment in which his libertine, that artist of debauchery, engaged in his most unnatural acts, abruptly asks himself: “And what if that is natural too – what if this is especially natural?” Nature does have a way, as the nursery rhyme of the blackbirds reminds us, of coming back and biting us on the nose.
Lanfranco Quadrio has gazed at nature with neither trepidation nor derision,
has yielded to the temptations of neither pity nor scorn, and in so doing has conveyed to us an intimation, however fleeting, of what, in seeing without saddening, it might mean to cast off our human coil. Disinterested yet not indifferent, dispassionate yet not distancing, ingenuous yet ingenious, his art offers to us a glimpse, if not of, then as it may be from nature.
From life, as artists put it.
Dan Gunn April 2010
NATURA NON CONTRISTATUR The enigma of representation
In their age-old desire to represent the world, artists have fostered the creation of rigorously codified iconographical structures, to which to refer in defining the representation of reality, which frequently coincides with representation of the natural world. Over time, these iconographies have become familiar categories: think, for example, of the term “still life”, linguistic code for a given form of image constructed according to a precise set of rules. Then think how these categories are always automatically accompanied by a complex baggage of structures which are not only visual, but also mental, philosophical and scientific, with a stratification that mean that images can be interpreted on several perceptual levels. The narrative tied up with an image, or a series of images, then acquires new words, subtle nuances, quickly attaches to a thought or suggests it through signs and symbols, leads to an interconnection of different elements, ending up with an identifying code reached through established structures. On this subject, Arthur Schopenhauer wrote: “We have recognized the inmost nature of the world as will, and all its phenomena as only the objectivity of will (…) No will: no representation, no world. Before us there is certainly only nothingness. But that which resists this passing into nothing, our nature, is indeed just the will to live, which we ourselves are, as it is our world. That we abhor annihilation so greatly is simply another expression of the fact that we so strenuously will life, and are nothing but this will, and know nothing apart from it.” ( The World as Will and Idea, Haldane and Kemp translation). For the philosopher, then, will and representation are derived one from the other, in a bond that holds them together and justifies their existence. If will in fact determines representation, we see just how deep and important its responsibility can be. Philosophical definitions aside, one thing is certain: the codification of reality, of the world, of the phenomena that populate it, and above how to represent them, has always been the big issue for artists.
A moment before, a moment after
The sign or mark is the weapon; the battlefield may be of paper, canvas, wood. And when the artist decides to focus on the natural world, his depiction tells stories which go beyond the purely visual. In the case of Lanfranco Quadrio, the subject of such representation is hunting, for which reason everything becomes even more complex. Although the depiction of nature has within it an aesthetic tendency towards overall harmony, this synthesis of animals in movement – sometimes with fragments of the natural world – emphasizes tension. The artist is aware of the fact, knows that what is seen at one moment will no longer be the same a moment later. Two animals face up to each other, the herd flees, the attack begins: the final outcome of the clash is not for us to know. The battle recreates the anguish and suffering of life, but in a different key, that in which, as Schopenhauer again points out, “Natura non contristatur”, nature is indifferent to suffering – a phrase which encapsulates the conceptual justification for this exhibition. From a human point of view, the hunt is a drama, but the more authentic spirit of nature denies it, renewing the age-old dichotomy between man and the natural world. And so confrontation, death, loss are part of another, non-human dimension. The invitation, then, is to observe the struggle through different eyes, detached from sentiment; but is it really possible not to judge an event from a human point of view? The depiction of the struggle, therefore, puts up a resistance, first of all, to human judgement. Lanfranco Quadrio was well aware of this when he decided to scratch on his plates the attacks of wolves, animals preyed on by other animals, gaping jaws, torn bodies. To restore visibility to what is real then becomes the true reason for depicting it, detached from all judgement. Hunting, too – and here there is no trace of human presence – becomes a paradigm of this thinking: it is just an event, nothing more. But then it happens that the mark of the incision tells its story with such force that it cancels itself out; or its repetition assumes so compulsive a tone that it anaesthetizes everything. At a certain point, we proceed by contrasts: in the labyrinth of convulsed signs, sudden erasures appear, and this minimal shift assumes a determining importance. The incised lines, grouped in series, again change the meaning of their presence, modify their structure and oblige the eye to follow new paths. Lanfranco Quadrio’s painting strongly follows the meaning of the sign: because immediately, under the skin of the pictorial surface, the drawing emerges with strength, reunites the signs with his strongest words. A drawn kind of painting, a painterly kind of drawing: it is difficult to define the boundary. From images thick with inextricable presences, we then move to an apparently microscopic vision: the wing of a dragonfly, a feather, the fragment of a limb. Lanfranco Quadrio observes with tremendous concern for detail, his rigour is scientific, but then suddenly there is a deviation from the path. And it is precisely this that calls everything into question, in marks made with paint, with the determination to represent the world. Paola Nicita
Following the hunt
“...and there rose such a clamour from the pack that the rocks rang again. The huntsmen spurred them on with shouting and blasts of the horn; and the hounds drew together to a thicket betwixt the water and a high crag in the cliff beneath the hillside... There rushed forth a wondrous great and fierce boar, long since had he left the herd to roam by himself. Grunting, he cast many to the ground, and fled forth at his best speed, without more mischief... Many a time did he turn to bay and tare the hounds, and they yelped, and howled shrilly... At length the lord himself came up, and saw the beast at bay, and the men standing aloof. Then quickly he sprang to the ground and drew out a bright blade, and waded through the stream to the boar... Then the boar leapt upon the knight so that beast and man were one atop of the other in the water; but the boar had the worst of it, for the man had marked, even as he sprang, and set the point of his brand to the beast’s chest, and drove it up to the hilt, so that the heart was split in twain (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 14th century; translation: Jessie L. Weston)
When I first saw Lanfranco’s hunting scenes, so dizzying and dynamic in style, I experienced a sensation anachronistic yet familiar, an atavistic feeling, to do with the relationship between hunter and hunted. Deer, wild boar, hounds and human beings maddened in the whirling melee of bodies locked in lifeand-death struggle: this is the very essence of hunting, an activity that has pitted man against animal since time immemorial. My thoughts went back to the time when the first representatives of the human race ceased being hunted and became hunters. As a rule, these first humans dined on meat only occasionally, when they found an animal that had died of natural causes or whose carcase had been abandoned by other carnivores. We know that man first began to hunt wild boar and deer (as well as bison and elephant) some 500 thousand years ago, as evidenced by the remains of meals
found at African and European sites of that period. But the practice of hunting these mammals in Mediterranean and other European regions did not become widespread until 60 thousand years ago, when climatic factors and the formation of large wooded areas led to an increase in their numbers. In the course of human evolution over the millennia, hunting was increasingly practised, thanks to the manufacture of tools, beginning with throwing instruments and harpoons, and the development of more sophisticated strategies. But the first representations of hunting, when homo sapiens had learned to paint and scratch graffiti on rocks and in caves, did not appear until the Late Stone Age. From fossil remains, utensils and these early images, it is clear that by that time we were already very skilful hunters. (fig. 1) A turning point in the hunter/hunted relationship, and in hunting technique, occurred some 12 thousand years ago with the domestication of the dog, man’s valued and faithful companion, able to scent, flush out and attack a quarry, and even die for its master. For many groups, hunting was for a long time the main source of sustenance, regulating their cultures and economies, at least until the advent of agriculture. In historical times, hunting and the art it inspired were associated with power and the prestige of the aristocracy: through hunting, kings and nobles could demonstrate the strength and courage required of a great warrior. Hunting was elevated to an art and became a vital element in the education of the young: managing to capture a large animal was an achievement demonstrating bravery and marking the passage into adulthood This was true of many civilisations, particularly that of Greece, where hunting was seen as on a par with war and athletic prowess. (fig. 2) Ulysses, for example, when he finally gets home from his long odyssey, is recognised by his old nurse because of the scar he received in his youth from the tusk
of a wild boar. Hunting, and the idea of man’s superiority over animals, was in a sense “stabilised” by the offering of the prey as a sacrifice to the gods. Man’s almost divine role in this ritual made for a moderate and selective approach to hunting, in contrast with the excessive and immoderate practice of so-called barbarian peoples. Wild boar hunting was the most testing exercise of all. It was believed that the boar’s tusks were incandescent and would burn the hair and hide of huntsmen and hounds. In his treatise on hunting, Xenophon says that to confront this beast one needs to be accompanied by specially bred dogs, such as those from India or Crete, armed with javelins, spears and traps, and above all possessed of great strength of mind. The 2nd century AD was a time of great hunting expeditions organised by the Roman emperors, who were expected to demonstrate bodily and mental toughness by excelling in the skills of peace-keeping, war and the hunt. The Romans were very fond of wild boar meat and saw the animal as a worthy opponent, far more pugnacious and courageous than the mild and timid deer. Often the huntsmen would venture into the woodland undergrowth, on foot, in anticipation of a violent struggle, when the boar, knowing its life threatened, would vent its fury in a bloody and turbulent battle, first with the dogs, then at close quarters with its human adversary, before receiving a mortal blow to the throat. With the decline of the Roman Empire, and throughout the Middle Ages, as we see in the images in treatises on the subject, hunting became even more closely identified with the ruling classes. The characteristics of the wild boar – strength, aggression and ferocity – were qualities a good knight had to be able to master, and the animal itself became an impersonation of the enemy. The hunting of game, once open to all, became the exclusive preserve of the wealthy; the poor were no longer allowed to hunt in the forests or on the king’s
land and, as time went by, the rules and regulations were made ever stricter. Effectively the wealthy nobles were the sole masters of the animals present on their vast estates. From the late 12th century, parks and hunting reserves multiplied, and animals were raised and introduced if there was any shortage of supply. During hunting expeditions, however, the prince would no longer get his hands dirty, no longer demonstrate his physical strength and prowess; now the emphasis was on refinement, on playing a role to show off his status and opulence. Only the Church found hunting too worldly and tried to discourage it. Think for a moment of all those saints who tamed and protected even the most ferocious beats, St. Francis associating with a wolf, St. Ambrose with a lion. Even so, there were popes and prelates who went against the religious consensus, being especially fond of the chase. Hunting gradually assumed the character of a ritual, in which lords and ladies displayed their jewellery, rich garments, weapons and dogs. Dogs, definitely! Nobles and true lovers of the chase devoted themselves personally to their beloved dogs, spending a fortune on their care and maintenance, while fashionable ladies often kept smaller thoroughbred dogs as pets. Some of the greatest Italian families, such as the Medici, Sforza and Gonzaga, were passionate about hunting with dogs and kept up the ancient traditions. In Mantua, Federico Gonzaga II went so far as to commission Giulio Romano to design a tomb for his beloved hounds. Generally, wild board were flushed out and held at bay by stronger dogs, such as mastiffs and great danes, while fleet-footed greyhounds were used for hunting deer. And, increasingly, dogs are depicted with their masters in their official portraits. Among the artists who depicted wild boar and deer hunts were two Flemish painters and engravers. Jan Van Der Straet (1523-1605), known as Stradano, worked at the court of the Medici (figs. 3 and 4), whi-
le Bernard Van Orley (c. 1488 - 1541) was attached to the court of Margaret of Austria, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, in Brussels (fig. 5). One is immediately struck by stylistic similarities, especially in the sense of chaotic movement, between the engravings of these two men, who flourished during the Renaissance, and the powerfully expressive work of Lanfranco, a contemporary artist. All three have reflected long and hard, and suffered, when witnessing a hunting scene, and proved themselves to be attentive observers of nature in all its manifestations (figs. 6, 7). Although firearms first appeared at the end of the 15th century, they were not much used in hunting, except perhaps in the 1700s. But there were exceptions: Michelangelo Biondo, for example, complained of unfair practice in the Roman countryside, and of the depletion of game caused by the use of “an iron device that emits fire with a bang”. At the turn of the 18th century, frequent and repeated deforestation changed the face of the countryside, resulting in changes to wildlife habitats in many regions. But it was not until the French Revolution that hunting underwent a “democratic” transformation: subject to payment of a tax, an ever-increasing number of commoners could now easily obtain the right to hunt, which had previously been an aristocratic prerogative. In the colonies, meanwhile, explorers and soldiers were beginning to hunt exotic and rare animals as trophies, decimating entire species. During the 19th century, hunting became a subject of controversy, with polemics developing between its supporters and those who opposed the practice on ethical and moral grounds. In addition, changes in the use of land and the reclamation of former wastes, increases in population and the development of more sophisticated firearms caused a drastic reduction, and even the extinction, of many species, as we have seen the wolf or ibex. At the same time,
many of the large mammals moved to less accessible areas. Hunters then turned to smaller kinds of game. The same period saw the first efforts to conserve threatened species and stricter punishments for violations of the rules. The first initiatives to protect the natural world were taken in the early years of the 20th century, when national parks were established. Nowadays, there are few people groups which still live by hunting and which have maintained a good man/animal/environment relationship. But we in the West are rightly trying to restrict hunting as much as possible through targeted legislation. Hunting has been transformed into love of adventure, an opportunity for contact with nature, a physical challenge, a sport. Lanfranco is not a hunter, but a wise “gatherer”, an artist who observes and tells hunting stories, depicting scenes which evoke both the frenetic vitality of animals as in a “cynical dance” and the deathly immobility of a wild board that has just been killed and dismembered. His works have the capacity to arouse distant memories, triggering deep-seated feelings and primitive instincts. Barbara Truden
Table de Reproductions 20
Libellule avec des ailes, gravure au burin, 2006
Multiplo I: La grande serie d’ailes, 155 x 155 burin, huile, stylo, graphite, pastelle, 2010 vue détaillée
Multiplo I: La grande serie d’ailes, 155 x 155, burin, huile, stylo, graphite, pastelle, 2010
Diptyque d’ailes II, 55 x 240, huile, 2010
26 Grand dyptique d’ailes, 85 x 200, huile, 2010 30 Le cerf et le chien, 180 x 95, graphite, huile, 2009 32 La meute, 100 x 187, huile, 2009 35 Multiplo III: Chiens qui dévorent le cerf, 12 unité papier gravure au burin, 2010 36 Chien triomphant, 124 x 152, graphite, huile, 2009 37 Repos, 58 x 138, graphite, huile, 2009 37 Chiens amoureux, 70 x 200, graphite, huile, 2009 40 Trophée, 102 x 82, huile, 2009 42 La patte III, graphite, huile, 2007 42
La patte IV, graphite, huile, 2010
43 La patte II, 57 x 36, techniques mixtes, 2010 43
La patte I, 69 x 22, technique mixte, 2010
44 Le cerf, 34 x 50, technique mixte, 2008 45 Tête de cerf, 50 x 35, graphite, huile, 2008 46 Tête, 50 x 35, graphite, pastelle, 2010 48
Sanglier suspendu III, 50 x 35, graphite, 2010
suspendu, 50 x 36, graphite, huile, 2008 Cerf
Multiplo II: La chute, technique mixte, 2010, vue detaillée
Corps à corps, 50 x 70, graphite, 2007
55 Multiplo II: La chute, technique mixte, 2010 56 Petite escalade, 211 x 118, graphite, huile, pastel, 2007 57
La chute, 142 x 117, graphite, huile, 2007
59 La chute: bras rouge, graphite, huile, 2007 61 La chasse, 81 x 141, graphite, huile, 2007, vue détaillée 62 Cerf chassé II, 100 x 198, graphite, huile, 2009 64
Cerf chassé, 157 x 198, graphite, huile, 2009
65 Chien triophant II, 51 x 36, graphite, huile, 2008 66 Natura non contristatur, 157 x 198, huile, 2008, vue détaillée 67 Natura non contristatur, 157 x 198, huile, 2008 68
Sanglier et un chien, 140 x 209, huile, 2010
70 Deux chiens et le cerf, 117 x 139, huile, 2008 71 Deux chiens et le cerf, 117 x 139, huile, 2008, vue détaillée 73 Chien dévorant, 35 x 49, technique mixte, 2008 74 Les pieds, ca. 25 x 27, graphite, huile, 2010 75 Les pieds, ca. 25 x 27, graphite, huile, 2010 76
Tête, 50 x 35, technique mixte, 2008
77 Le chien à la tâche, 51 x 36, technique mixte, 2008 78 Tête bleue, 149 x 129, graphite, huile, 2009 79
Tête de cerf, 50 x 35, graphite, huile, 2008
Sanglier suspendu II, 150 x 85, graphite, huile, 2009
Sur la table II, 50 x 35, graphite, huile, 2008
Les restes, huile, 2010
Lanfranco Quadrio (Lecco, 1966), peintre, graveur, il est professeur à l’Institute National d’art de Palerme, ville où il est résidente. Natura non contristatur Freland, Grande Finale a.r.t. fabric 2010 At the water’s Edge Paris, American University of Paris 2009 Corps à corps Paris, Galerie Michèle Broutta 2006 ont ces trois expositions personnelles en France.
L‘exposition et ce livre Natura non contristatur on été réalisés par
GRANDE FINALE a.r.t. fabric freland Textes & Copyright
Dan Gunn Barbara Truden Paola Nicita Photographie
Harald II. Friesewinkel Yann Baco Conception et Layout
Harald II. Friesewinkel Remerciements
Famille Frey Ma Famille Nicola Console La famille Kern Le garde-chasse de Fréland dédié à mon frère Riccardo Traduction du texte
Dan Gunn traductor Bâle Gravures
Les gravures ont été imprimé par l’artist
Achevé d’imprimer pour GRANDE FINALE en août 2010 Impression
STIPA, Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis)