I realize while I’m about to write on Carlo Criscione, and maybe even en abrege, that I know little or nothing at all about him. The little I know is thanks to someone who prizes him, Salvatore Elia, who paid me a visit just the day before yesterdy, showed me some paintings and told me about this ragusan show as a small, late tribute to an artist not so young anymore and who has always lived in the shadows. If I were in the mood for paradoxes, like Borges, I could pretend to write a note to a non-existent painter, completely made up, and it’s likely, anyway, given the circumstances, that what I say will be strongly worded and felt. Now, anyway, I have in front of me the pictures of the paintings that will be publicly shown-or at least the most recent ones-and from here its better to derive a brief thought, a small proposal of reading. Still lifes, landscapes, a few portraits: these are the themes Criscione is offering us. In the landscapes, it’s not difficult to recognize iblean places that are so familiar, just as in the still lives and human shapes, the “objective” starting point, before stylization, is never lost. The result is a visionary and surreal abstraction, obtained through the proud paroxysm of colors. Sometimes, this fantastic transfiguration of the world (of a train station, of a countryside observed atop a hill or framed out of a window… that itself becomes a decorative element) seems to betray the naïveté of a child, but then, in the still lifes, for example, it is possible to understand that Criscione’s candor is mature, that his apparent instinctive and emotional language doesn’t lack a cultural background (for example, the memory of Italian art from the period of the aftermath of the second world war, of a Gattuso, a Migneco…). Ultimately, behind the complacent vivacity which explodes from the surface, the core of our artist comes to light in a restlessness, a secret worry, signaled, if I’m not mistaken, by the very many human shapes, by their wariness, their closed, or, more often, crossed, fixed, and thinking eyes. As if that bright and phantasmagoric chromatic game was some sort of dislocation, an invitation to dive in, although it is all objective, once again to enter the fable of life.

Nunzio Zago (Comiso)
Febbraio 2004

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