Exhibition title: The Days of Heaven
Artist: Matteo Montani
Type of art: Painting
Duration: 1 December 2023 – 27 January 2024
Vernissage: 1 December 2023, 6-9 pm
Viens-tu du ciel profond ou sors-tu de l’abîme, O Beauté?
I consider my painting strictly connected with the history of the eye and the vision. Where the eye becomes a sensitive membrane, a filter.
I associate the pictorial space with a threshold, with a subtle screen suspended between two dimensions as a frontier, a passage. What I paint is something possibly situated between the eye and the soul, an unknown place that we could define the rift between the physical world and the spiritual, in its dissolving.
The sky has long held a cherished place in the world of art, serving as a limitless source of inspiration for countless generations of artists. Whether capturing the brilliance of a clear blue day, the drama of a stormy night, or the ethereal glow of a sunset, the sky, with its ever-changing hues, moods, and atmospheres has been an ever-present muse on the canvas of human creativity. In the skilled hands of Matteo Montani, Italian painter renowned for infusing a captivating atmospheric luminosity into his art, the celestial realm transcends mere representation, evolving into gateways of boundless imagination. Marking his debut solo exhibition at the Luisa Catucci Gallery in Berlin, Montani presents a meticulously curated collection of paintings inspired by the skies and their dynamic nuances. Each piece serves as an ode to the incomparable beauty enveloping our planet and our existence, capturing abstractly the ever-shifting spectacle of the days of heaven.
Montani’s evocative paintings convey the idea of landscapes as emotional experiences, taking the haunting qualities of skies and seas from the Romantic era to a contemporary stage by depriving them of any reference to a real, earthly place. In an almost abstract expressionist way, the artist dares to look beyond the traditional confines of reality and harnesses the skies as a means of expressing the intangible, the inexplicable, and the transcendent. The only reason to call Montani’s paintings landscapes is cultural. Viewers automatically register his format as a landscape, but at the same time, they are called to contemplate the vast enigmatic expanse of his non-places, where literal figuration is lost to the masterful use of colors and lines. Each painting is an invitation for the viewer to engage with their emotions, to feel the depth and subtlety of color and texture’s resonance.
The artist’s use of color is not haphazard but a meticulous orchestration: his transitions from dark to light, from warm to cool, evoke a profound sense of depth and motion. One can feel the energy and contemplation in their juxtaposition.
Strongly inspired by the lights of dawn and dusk – times of transformative transition both physical and emotional – and by the perpetual becoming of things, Matteo approaches his painting practice almost as an alchemist due to his peculiar technique, requiring scientific and chemical knowledge of the elements used, such as sandpaper, metal powders, oils, turpentine, and the pivotal role of the artist’s movements.
Montani approaches his work in the studio comprehensively, utilizing every available surface, moving freely within it, and fully expressing his gestural tendencies, imprinting even the slightest variations on the support. In more recent times, he started working directly on canvas, exploring the possibilities of this surface, and looking for new ways to intervene on this material coherently to his way of working, like creating movement using air.
The composition is in any case discovered through action, where the movements are supported by scientific knowledge of the elements and their reactions, allowing room for a “natura naturans” kind of surprise, where “nature does what nature does.”
The artist becomes an actual “force of nature” working on the piece in union with the other forces – including chaos – binding the painting to natural laws.
The use of turpentine and oils makes the sandpaper conquered and dominated by evanescent clouds, creating cosmogenic and enchanting effects of ethereal vapors. The metal powders, balance the composition by creating heavy counterpoints, fundamental to grounding the work and bringing it back to an earthly dimension.
Impressed in Matteo Montani’s works, there is a harmonious combination of various upward movements, akin to vapor or mist, downward movements like rains or precipitations, and lateral movements typical of winds, each movement emphasized by the masterful color palette. This offers the viewers an immersive emotional experience, enhanced by the artist’s choice to work mainly on a large-scale format. In this way, Matteo Montani’s works truly serve as portals through dimensions situated “between the eye and the soul, an unknown place that we could define as the rift between the physical world and the spiritual, in its dissolving” taking the observers on an emotional journey of self-discovery and universal interconnectivity.