Luciano Sozio at Studio Legale De Capoa (Hungarian Consulate) / Bologna

'La trappola del tempo' / Luciano Sozio
Curated by Angela Madesani

25 November - 20 January, 2024

Studio Legale De Capoa - Hungarian Consulate
Via Francesco Petrarca, 2
40136 Bologna, Italy 

The Trap of Time by Angela Madesani 

Some time ago, Antonio de Capoa called me, proposing to organise exhibitions in the law firm in Bologna, which he shares with his daughter Maria Flaminia and other colleagues. The reason was his love of art, his curiosity for discovery, his openness to other worlds. The proposal appealed to me; it is a kind of challenge in which contemporary art should succeed in becoming part of the everyday life of a place intended for something else.

If there is one aspect of my work that makes me love it more and more every day, it is the distance from any form of habit. Dealing with art, studying it, encountering artists is exciting for me, despite the difficulties, the small and big failures, the unsuccessful projects. 

Last summer, through another artist I was dealing with, I met Luciano Sozio, whose work immediately impressed me. His research is silent, passionate, requiring method, study both to realise it and to understand it in all its refined and measured cleverness.

So, I decided to propose his work as the initial exhibition of this journey, at Studio de Capoa. 

We certainly cannot claim to give life to an anthological exhibition, but rather to the timely essay of a work that is difficult to place, beyond the simple technical definition of the language with which it is realised. Hers is a painting that traces its deepest roots to  tradition in that Longinian world of 'poetry of the minimal', which leads us to Piero della Francesca. 

Is it perhaps just a coincidence that the surname Sozio is also that of a 12th century Umbrian master, a central figure in the Spoleto school of painting? It certainly is, but equally I like to glimpse a kind of connection between the two figures almost a thousand years later. 

His approach to painting is methodical, he wants to have total control of each work, starting with the preparation of the individual canvases and the colour through pigments. Over the course of time, he has studied recipes that are the result of experimentation, but also of the study of individual materials, their characteristics and prerogatives, which become his heritage, almost a secret.

Sozio works a lot, studies, makes researches, and carries out several works simultaneously. Each work is a portrait of a more or less complex story, which the artist constructs in his Pescara studio from time to time. 

It is as if everything makes sense in his research; the discipline of his systematic modus operandi derives perhaps from having been a competitive sportsman in his youth, the love of pigments, probably, from his early approach to art, through ceramics. And so, the subjects come from his passion for the plant world, just as the conceptual aspect of his research comes to him from his study of certain artists, first and foremost Giorgio Morandi. 

On show there are some works from his most recent series: Fly Traps and The Hunter. "When a series is born there is always a chain of situations that converge at an exact point. One of my earliest memories dates back to almost forty years ago, I was in the garden of my parents' house in Isernia and I was very bored, so I decided to hunt down all the butterflies and push them towards the inside of the house"[1]. The reference is clear.

"Just before making Fly Traps, in Bologna, I had seen a beautiful Morandi exhibition. Back in the studio, I thought about the possibility of overturning the paradigm of the vase with the flower"[2]. So, he got some vases, plants, objects and built the sets, which he then drew. The drawing in his work is leading from a design point of view: it is a test to see whether the development in painting can work. It nevertheless maintains a declared autonomy. 

The subjects proposed here come from everyday life. These are ordinary objects, without intrinsic preciousness of any kind. His are not still lifes so much as still lives, in which time is frozen. Time that Sozio seems to make fun of, in relation to the only certainty of existence, its end. After all, the trap is nothing more than an object of death. The artist tries to escape the irreversible dynamic of what awaits us. A dynamic that man is not allowed to know in its entirety, veiled by the very mystery of existence, to which the artist refers through the unpainted spaces, which we also find in the Hunter, thus in the figure of a woman with a broom in her hand, in which the small tail of an insect can be glimpsed. It is the detail that gives the work its meaning.

His are objects of memory. In one group of paintings there is a chair hanging on the wall in obvious precariousness. He started working on it when war broke out in Ukraine, at a time of total destabilisation. "I had to try several times before I managed to create the final set. I wanted to make the wait even more exciting. I had fun and suffered at the same time"[3]. Each of his works is the precariousness of the whole. His works are mental works, in which continuous traces of our present emerge. The key to interpretation, the meaning, by his own admission, lies outside the work: the thread that holds everything together is in the hands of the viewer. 

Everything is precarious, but there is a clear desire for change. Something may happen, an event may occur that for a moment and in a moment may break the symmetry of phenomena, and the reference returns to the end, to death. The artist declares a sense of responsibility, in a historical time in which it seems to be completely lacking. Nobody wants to take it. By making the spectator participate, the reins of the game are left in his hands. The artist speaks in this sense, with a reference to the theory of perception, of 'amodal completion', a concept on which Morandi also worked extensively.

The works on show here, a small part of his research, are all set indoors. The reference is to an essay by Yuval Noah Harari[4], who made a witty reflection on the fact that man, who at first was at the bottom of the list of predators, is now at the top, and therefore feels like an invincible divinity. Our lairs are our homes, the places where we feel safe. Perhaps, however, it could be a trap? We must not forget that there are Hunters. It is the challenge to attract something and the waiting for the opportune moment. 

In Sozio's research there is a strongly poetic dimension of surreality, which leads to a kind of annulment of events that are only apparently real, in truth created, provoked. It is the precariousness of phenomenon and existence that refers, also ichnographically, to his great passion for the rope walker artist Philip Petit, who in the 1970s walked and danced on a tightrope between the twin towers in New York. A character who oscillates between the silence of extreme concentration and the madness of equally extreme courage. And perhaps this is precisely a possible yardstick for reading these works, in which the aesthetic and poetic dimensions merge into a unicum at once delicate and powerful.

1. L.Sozio, in conversation with the writer, August 2023

2. idem
3. idem
4. Y.N.Harari, Sapiens. Da animali a dèi: Breve storia dell'umanità, Italian Edition, Bompiani, Milano, 2017