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Etruscan Painting

Alessandro Twombly

313 Bowery, New York, NY
April 26, 2024 – June 14, 2024

Alessandro Twombly, Life Essence, 2023, Acrylic on linen, 74 13/16 x 55 1/8 in 190 x 140 cm
Alessandro Twombly, Gates of Rome, 2023, Acrylic on linen, 102 3/8 x 102 3/8 in 260 x 260 cm
Alessandro Twombly, Birth of Florence, 2024, Acrylic on linen, 102 3/8 x 102 3/8 in 260 x 260 cm
Alessandro Twombly, Suspended, 2024, Acrylic on linen, 102 3/8 x 80 5/16 in 260 x 204 cm
Alessandro Twombly, A Delicate Journey, 2024, Acrylic on linen, 78 3/4 x 59 in 200 x 150 cm


An excerpt from a forthcoming monograph by Richard Milazzo on the paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by Alessandro Twombly:

[…] To grasp the basic significance of Alessandro Twombly’s paintings in this first one person-exhibition in New York, in almost two decades, here at the Amanita Gallery, without stigmatizing them with such label-calling as Neo-Expressionist or even Post-Expressionist, we need to tear a page right out of his own playbook, which does not hesitate to expound the visceral volatility of the paintings’ energy and to confirm their visionary dimension through the poetry of their titles, which combined amount to an act of ‘exorcism.’ Within their emotional architecture, the artist has synthesized the compositional elements of the paintings, bringing them closer to a more monolithic dimension.

[…] What we must remember, first and foremost, is that we are dealing with paint here, in shapes, in abstract configurations of form, and not in terms of any representational narrative or figures. We might speak more accurately of structural agons or momentary consolidations of energy, but not before we realize just how subject they are to our momentary perceptual life. As Alessandro moves from painting to painting, there are no assurances, no single gesture that can guarantee whether the instruments he wields will lead to the same place or to any known place, if all artists are fundamentally acting within the confines of the circus tent that is their studio.

Even as they may, by default, accumulate into images that suggest narrative thresholds, they ultimately posit themselves as thresholds of formlessness relentlessly threatening the limits of form, not only in these paintings but in Alessandro’s work in general. They are springboards for the emotion and energy that the exorcism of images can execute as a working reality. Even if they are forms of ‘action painting,’ they can still refuse to be tamed by systemic gestures.

[…] This is not to say there are no patterns or even color preferences in Alessandro’s work; but what the images signify do not stall, do not offer themselves as anything other than as thresholds. They invariably move beyond the sign posts they merely suggest along the way, no matter how ‘delicate’ the journey, and they proffer these suggestions almost innocently, almost unknowingly. It is almost as if as a trapeze artist, he is swinging paint without a trapeze bar, without platforms at either end, and, needless to say, without a safety net of any kind. A delicate journey, indeed, but a perilous one nonetheless.

[…] I use the image of a circus performer only because I feel that all great artists operate in a circus of experimentation, where often the oddest of acts and creatures prove to be the most enduring, or, at least, the most spectacular, but project more as lions rather than as lion tamers, which are ultimately untamable, despite the patterns and preferences, despite all the training and education, all the self-imposed limits, especially the ones that seduce us with fame and success. So, for example, here, in A Delicate Journey, or even in Untamed, the color pink – which we might associate with the feminine or even with the vaginal or shape of life forms we may or not see in these or in other works by Alessandro – is asserted androgynously. What he has traversed for us, perhaps in the spirit of Rilke, is nothing less than the delicate journey of the untamed, however improbable or outrageous or bombastic the projection or exorcism.

[…] And so, it is not the spectacle of notoriety, nor even the one of experimentation for experimentation’s sake, that the true artist pursues but rather the meta-Spectacle of profound existential risk. Ultimately, it matters little whether the paintings are Promethean or Etruscan, or whether they find themselves at the near or far end of an exceptional legacy. What seems to matter most to Alessandro Twombly is the emotional impact these paintings can make, whether they reference the smallest iris or the highest peak of the Dolomites, whether they find themselves alluding to the cultures of Europe or the Middle East, whether they elude all such references in favor of a form of abstraction and abstract painting that is rooted in the illimitable thresholds of being and becoming, nature and culture, especially when these embody, indeed, embrace, the very threat, the very specter, of formlessness.

Richard Milazzo
New York City, April 4-7, 2024

Alessandro Twombly (b. 1959, Rome) is an Italian-born painter and sculptor, whose exuberant paintings and textured sculptures reflect his intimate connection to his local surroundings, the countryside outside Rome where he lives and works.

Twombly is deeply familiar with the flora and fauna of the Italian countryside and understands the longer geological perspective which shaped the landscape. Describing this relationship, he says ‘I work with nature like another artist might focus on the nude,’ explaining that he uses nature as a point of departure to move beyond direct representation. Nature is shifted into a psychological abstraction, seemingly reflecting a state of mind through exuberant colours and bold brushstrokes which battle and blend on the canvas. This dynamism is the result of an energetic and varied method of painting; Twombly often rests the canvas on the floor and uses his bare hands to apply his broad and expressive brushstrokes. Twombly is a natural and skilled colourist, combining vibrant colours and layering them with precision, tone after tone to obtain varying nuances. In places, this direct application doesn’t allow the colours to mix and they sit next to each other in contrast, independent yet blended by the composition.

This intrinsic relationship with nature is also visible in his sculpture. The traces of his fingers on the raw material reveal his attempt to represent substraction as a form of abstraction, where the external image of nature is not his main model. The shapes of Twombly’s works present the ‘inside’ of nature that pushes something towards the light, which illuminates it and in doing so helps it appear.