Thursday 30 November 2017

Discovering Wildt's work

Today I wish to make a digression from the usual literary post. I have come across a comment I had written in the occasion of a visit to an art exhibition in Forlì (Musei di San Domenico). The artist presented was Wildt, a sculptor who was active in the first half of last century, and who wasn't given his fair share of importance in the following years. I was astonished by the quality of his work, that moves me even now, when for some reason it pops into my mind. For this reason I have decided to post this piece of writing anew, in the hope it might light up someone else's curiosity towards this artist too.

Wildt: The expressive hermeticism of synthesis.

I will start by saying that I know almost nothing about Wildt as a person, everything that is written here only wants to express the flood of emotions that the work of this artist has aroused in me, regardless of the context in which he operated.
The first thing that hits you like a shock wave is the impression than Munch's soul has dressed in Canova's clothes. In Canova’s work the translucent smoothness of the marble represents a further step towards the harmony and perfection sought by the Classics, so lightly offering, if need be, something more of sweetness and softness also in tragedy. That same quality, in Wildt’s work, clears instead the way to the explosive interior stream that blazes mute and black from those empty eyes, just like the soundless scream tearing the soul with its shrieking. The smoothness is mortal pallor or pure essence of the soul, pure but earthly, soul not spirit, super nos but not rarefied.
Pain is physical, muscular and writhed, but melts into a dry, gnarled twig that climbs, like a soaking rag, to a new life. It finds its harmony in the two splendid figures hand in hand and in perfect balance onto a futuristic oblique disc, almost a flying carpet overlooking all that remains, so square and obvious.  In Wildt's work the sentiment that overwhelmingly pours out of the figure, is in contrast with the cold detachment of the figure itself from everything that is outside it, and here a thought goes to Leopardi...
Just then, though, the act of tenderness is revealed when the abyss in the bottom of the eyes is hidden by closed lids, so light, as a soul delivered from torment; or again in the faces of the children, so beautiful.
And what can be said about St. Francis's head, hanging in between asceticism and irony; I'm under the impression that the relationship between the artist and religion was somewhat trying, if not even troublesome, this has hit me on different occasions. I don't mean to suggest that he refused or sneered at it, rather that he reputed the Church not up to its divine purpose and the Divine too distant from human suffering. From this premise, the bitter (or wry) smile on the face of St. Francis, the most saint among humans; or, again, the tragedy of the “Adoptive Mother”.
Wildt is not just an immense sculptor, he is also a man of great concept and with an extraordinary ability in the use of words, the titles of his art pieces are remarkable and represent a great added value to his work.
As we proceed along this path we become evermore aware of just how scholarly Wildt's work is, how rich with references to sculptures and paintings of all ages. There is so much classic in these angular and stylized figures, I must say this aspect has moved me deeply and I believe it to be the very core of Wildt geniality: the specific weight of the classic in a style that teaches to the future, how marvelous! But again, in his work we find the middle ages - in those bony heads wrapped in veils, we find Klimt's golds and his disjointed geometrical positions, we find contrasts of full and empty volumes and shapes that are part of the sci-fy imaginary of our very days!
Finally, a whole section has been dedicated to the drawings, so slender yet filled with significance, they make me think of a Klee fallen into Hades.
It has been an enlightening progress that among the rooms of this exhibition, impeccably arranged in this environment, which, on my opinion, is particularly apt to the purpose.