The Painted Performance
Bruno Di Maio is an extremely talented painter, a draftsman who enjoys playing with the paintbrush in such a way that the viewer is able to imagine the artist himself creating his “painted performance” with his eyes closed, like a water-diviner.
His paintings are fantasies; they are sometimes mild and daring, and sometimes possess a realistic quality, which his draftsmanship brings to the basic composition and to the finishing touches of these works.
I do not know if it is an autobiographical indication, or the need to represent, like Narcissus’ mirror, a vision of personal experiences lived by the artist. But Bruno’s paintings exist in a state of permanent tension between the fluency of his technical draftsmanship and the pleasure of existential and fantastic adventure and of sentimental mobility so for him, painting does not aspire to the poetic program. He will never be a symbolist surrealist metaphysical realist hyperrealist or whatever.
Di Maio wants to be himself first of all, as we know him in his capacity of master of the painted image, and at the same time a man of sentiment and sincere feelings: an old-fashioned gentleman who lives his experience as an artist with simplicity His lines and colors can deceive the eye, according to an ancient tradition; and in an certain sense his style is in the ancient tradition because he is not influenced by changes in taste and fashion, as if painting had the power to rectify the misfortunes of time and to rise above temporary fashions.
For this reason it is gratifying to stop and appreciate the narrative evolution of some of his canvases, populated by live people and cheerful ghosts evoked without the help of a mythological dictionary. For example we see three galleys against a gray sky above an area where different scenes and people alternate, carrying on their actions simultaneously an accordion player, a sculptor and his model, an angel on a bicycle, two large-breasted young women with colorful hats, and a girl in the foreground partially undressed, sitting on drapery that seems to be a piece of a cast-off curtain...
The description of a painting permits us to reflect on the creative images the painter offers us: a succession of little visions, a primer which does not aim to impart knowledge but nonetheless has the extraordinary story-telling power of a theatrical production.
In his scenes Di Maio writes a permanent autobiography in his paintings, whether they portray people or a still life or strange visionary images. Like Mr. Dudron of Giorgio De Chirico, our painter transcribes on canvas his life experiences through the use of subtle signals and a mysterious intermingling of images that add to the final stimulating result of the painting.
For Di Maio, as for Dudron-De Chirico, biography explains the reasons, which have encouraged artistic expressions. He is a polemical painter who thinks, who observes life, who wants to describe his art. Everything becomes an “opportunity” for his art — even a night spent in the company of a lady with “flaming hair” can give way to thoughts and observations which inspire his compositions and the choice of color.
And we imagine him as Mr. Dudron, who after the ups and downs he experienced, partly against his will, partly out of curiosity, finally “sat behind his easel, took his palette and brushes
in hand, and, taking a painting begun the day before, began to paint” After adventures filled with dreams and fantasies, Di Maio takes up his dialogue with his craft and creates his adventure as an artist.
For this reason, nothing has been fruitless, not even the most insignificant experience. There is an element of arrogance in this desired solitude of the painter; it is thanks to him if through this solitude the treasury of art can acquire new gems. We again hear our Dudron. “. . . In our time, the history of art will be renowned because of the ignorance of painters”. They don’t understand that image means nothing, that the only thing that saves a painting from oblivion is the quality”. It is this definition of “quality” as essence of painting that makes me compare Bruno Di Maio to the heroic hearing of Giorgio De Chirico in his battle against the anti-artistic impulses of ideological modernism.
It is a fantastic adventure, it’s true. Lived in isolation and as an anachronistic reminiscence of forgotten genres, techniques and expressive approaches.
And yet, this way of seeing and of doing, in the name of “quality” is a challenging provocation to the “organized culture” of our-times, that which preaches the ephemeral, that which emphasizes the transitory quality of craft, the separation of art from behavior and from social situations.
Like De Chirico, who resolved to search with irony for the “demon” present in everything, Di Maio relies on his draftsmanship and on the genius of his fantastic and personal narration, in direct conflict with the world of intellectuals and critics, those who speak of the insignificance of painting as much as the insignificance of being. Nothing could be further from Bruno Di Maio’s spirit and inclination; he seeks to transform the corrosive acid of existential experience into meditation, magic, serenely sensual or melancholy.
So his eccentric characters, his allegories without any apparent significance, the warm female figures painted with colors somewhere between vivid and evanescent bear constant witness to the painter’s active interest in the world around him, and though which he travels as a “silent guest”, eager to see and experience everything possible, a medium-interpreter.
It seems to me that Bruno Di Maio, in his sincere offering of painted performance, has no other vocation: he is purely and simply, an impeccable parodist sincerely and honestly passionately fond of the “quality” he is able to achieve in the results of his expression.
And what else must an authentic painter be, what else is an authentic painter, if not this?