From 31 May to 19 August 2007, GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo and Assessorato alla Cultura del Comune di Bergamo will present an exhibition to the public devoted to the works of Gianfranco Ferroni (Livorno 1927–2001 Bergamo) in the Palazzo Ragione, Città Alta. The show, which will be curated by M. Cristina Rodeschini (Director of the Istituto della GAMeC), Marco Vallora (an art historian and critic) and Marcella Cattaneo (Curator GAMeC), originates from a project agreed between the cities of Milan and Bergamo and will be held in two buildings: the Palazzo Ragione in Bergamo and the Palazzo Reale in Milan.
Underlining the appeal of Ferroni’s art will be the display area designed especially by the renowned Swiss architect Mario Botta.
GAMeC has decided on an anthological exhibition of Ferroni’s – of more than 100 works divided by oils, engravings and photos – preferred themes to bring to attention the work of an artist who was particularly linked to Bergamo, the city where he lived and worked for two decades close to the Gallery, and whose works are to be found in many private collections in the city.
After a difficult period spent as an autodidact, Gianfranco Ferroni created for himself a tortured but committed poetics. Born in Livorno in 1927, he was marked by the experience of the war while still young. In 1944 he moved to Milan and joined the artistic world of Brera but he spent years of frustration and anxiety as he searched for a personal style. His first works of importance moved in an Expressionist direction that, around the mid-Fifties, developed into an “existential realism” typical of artists such as Banchieri, Bodini, Ceretti, Cremonini, Guerreschi, Romagnoni, Sughi, Vaglieri and Vespignani. Focusing violently on the human condition and detached from all form of ideological prevarication, this trend had a clear stylistic and thematic influence on artists like Bacon (in the multiplication and deformation of the profiles of the human face), Giacometti (in his consumed figures), and Wols (in the formless tangles of his city views). From the Sixties Ferroni’s painting moved closer to Pop culture and his works evidence a close dialectics between drawing, engraving and painting. This was combined with his social commitment and research into the rendering of space in sections and chromatic fields, which he used to incorporate different sequences of an existential tale. It was in this phase that his more recurrent themes began to appear: the mother, the city of Tradate (which he felt to be a prison but also the place to which his fondest memories were attached), waste,interiors, the environment disturbed, a situational account, passion, rooms refound, the portrait of Norge, spectres, the legend of the drowned, and self-portraits. What is clear in his work is an invitation to a broader reflection on the sense of human life through the presentation of situations of death, torture and alienation.
From the Eighties he began to move towards a more intimist art through self-portraits, a thread that runs through all his artistic and existential research. Self-portraits that feature the remains of a shadow, his studio, his easel, his unmade bed, his tools or everyday objects on a work table, in abandoned rooms. In the grey dusty atmosphere of the interiors, with filtered light, his close portrayal of the simplest and most squalid detail speaks of the necessity of submerging oneself into the trivia of the everyday to grasp the ultimate reason for existence. In his paintings Ferroni always attempted to stop memory in time by making us reflect on what has been, but without forgetting that the sense of life can only be understood as part of the ceaseless, ungraspable flow of time, in the generation and regeneration of the id and of reality itself in the presence of both past and future.