"Artists have always used and continue to use what they find most useful for their creativity: in doing so, besides, they have shown us the enormous expressive potential of common and everyday materials. In this continuous exploration to expand the creative possibilities there cannot be limitations due to the perishable nature or impermanence of what you use ". These are words from a text by Oscar Chiantore and Antonio Rava (Preserving Contemporary Art, Milan 2005) which raises important reflections on a fundamental issue for contemporary creativity: art is not eternal anymore, if it has ever been so at all. The examples, in these terms, are numerous: just think of some works of Arte Povera, or the famous case of the Fat Chair by Beuys. On the other hand, their deepest meaning lies in the non-eternity of the elements, a meaning that is betrayed when subsequent restorations are too invasive, such as the replacement of worn parts with other materials. "Cynically", continues Oscar Chiantore in the mentioned text, "one could argue that today the main concern for museum curators, collectors, public and private institutions, in preserving works of art which are made of perishable materials such as leaves, twigs or food, stems from the fact that the works of the past, just as delicate and ephemeral, have not survived! Some experts say that less than 10% of the works of artistic value, produced in the western world since ancient times, has reached us intact. " Dealing with a work that is destined to evolve and perish is not, therefore, a modern issue: this is not what makes the work of Vittorio Comi so interesting and fascinating. Or at least not only.
Excellent and well-known special effects creator for movies, Vittorio Comi came to his new art for a personal need, as if to find himself. "I was missing a peaceful and creative contact with my past as an artist," he explains, “The experience gained in 25 years of work led me to increasingly technological materials and researches, and made me forget about the most true and essential of existing things: Nature”. Step by step the idea - we might say the intuition - of Vittorio took shape, until it found expression in what is now his personal technique.
Greenkeeping no.5 summarizes perfectly the meaning of research for Comi. The reference to the formal Italian gardens surrounding the many delightful villas of Brianza - almost as a homage to his native land - the abstract geometry of the composition, the minimal rigorous aesthetics, the environmental issue and, of course, the logic of a living work of art are indeed the cornerstone of his stylistic mark. Greenkeeping no.5, like other works by Vittorio, has a very unique relationship with nature, a relationship that arises not only from the material it is made of. Greenkeeping was born from the seeds that the artist has cast, it has grown, evolved and now it needs attention and care, like every living being, in order not to perish. It needs water, light, proper temperature. It is a framed piece of life, a being with its own history and its own path, born from the happy meeting of different factors. Don’t be deceived by the classic frame that surrounds it: although it is hanging on a wall, like any work of art, it is not still. Silently, slowly, its shoots grow, change color and shape, can get sick, yellow, dry out and die. Its owner will have to take care of it, inheriting a role as well as an object from the artist, forced into a duty similar to what we do when we choose to live with a pet. The involvement of the user is, moreover, total. The work offers not only visual, but tactile, olfactory and auditory sensations: caressing the grass, smelling it, hearing the gentle sound of the blades that vibrate to a breath of air are sensations that make the perception of the work of Comi a priceless sensorial experience, that gives us familiar feelings (who has never laid or sat on a lawn?) in a new and unexpected context.
Visiting Comi’s studio-workshop, where turf lays under the sun waiting to be transformed into works of art, one can also have another striking certainty. Not only such works may decline, but they may even be unable to grow. After the design stage - which corresponds mainly to the definition of conceptual (for the significance of the project) and technical (for its implementation) needs - the creation of the work is beyond the full control of the artist. External factors will decide the destiny of the work, we might say of the "harvest": sun, temperature, quality of seed, the reaction of grass species to the substrate on which they are planted and so on. Choosing the type of leaf has the same meaning for Vittorio as it is for a painter to imagine a shade of green on a palette, to mix colors, to find the right tone, but the end result is hardly governable and always surprisingly unexpected.
The work of Comi has been properly defined as "zero impact". Certainly the environment issue is something that should not be underestimated in a creative language of this kind. There is much debate recently, about alternative energy sources, protection of nature and reduction of human impact on the environment. Rarely an artistic research expresses all these concepts with the same strength and consistency without using words or installations of a conceptual matrix. Vittorio’s works are, shall we say, more than zero impact. They even contribute to the reduction of CO2 and to air filtration and purification, they are small green lungs hanging on the wall.
Besides, they often explicitly invite the viewer to start a new dialogue with the environment, to do some more meditation on the nature that surrounds us and on what could be done to improve the condition of our planet. Consider, for example, the Green Chair. Sitting on a grass-chair and enjoying the refreshing cloud of vaporized water that occasionally springs out is an extraordinary experience, an invitation to let oneself go, to get in touch with nature. An object like Green Chair, if not correctly interpreted, may offer a misleading interpretation of the research of Vittorio Comi. No doubt that the chair is a design object, in line with current trends, but to consider the work of Comi as a possible variation on the concept of ecology and environment-friendly design is not correct. Vittorio’s approach to his work is primarily artistic. Far from being objects-of-use or examples of experimental gardening, his creations are and remain essentially works of figurative art. In a balance between painting and sculpture, color and material, they play on color associations, on the interlacement of lines and precisely studied compositions, they insist on clear and powerfully expressed concepts, speaking a personal and recognizable language, transposed from painting, sometimes even by tradition. This is the case of the geometric abstractionism of Greenkeeping of n°5 (almost a baroque floor!) or of the courbetian citation of the biomorphic Fertility.
So, with a very rare brilliance, Vittorio Comi narrates art putting it into green, he expresses himself with a unique and original style, with a research that is not afraid of the slow pace and with the ability to question himself, to accept failures as a way to new solutions. A dynamic and vital search, looking at nature in the eye and understanding its rhythms and needs, complying with its times.
All this is in the works of Vittorio Comi. Take care of them.