Carola Mazot
Antonio CARBE'
Chiara GATTI
Franco FOSSA
Franco LOI
Gabriella NIERO
Gianni PRE
Giorgio PILLA
Giorgio SEVESO
Giuseppe POSSA
Giuseppe PROSIO
Maria Clara BOSELLO
Pier Luigi VERRUA

Chiara GATTI

Not afraid of colour green
Nature and abstraction in the Gardens series

Green is the most difficult colour. Non-figurative artists did not liked it because “it immediately suggests nature”, as the great American art critic Clement Greenberg used to say. In fact, neither his protege’Jackson Pollock nor Marc Rothko ever used it as dominant colour scheme but only in exceptional cases they used  it  to increase, in an expressionist way, the sourness of the gesture or the strong effect of the yellows. The specter of a hidden naturalism had previously terrified all the masters of abstraction who were determined to cross the borders of a contingent dimension towards immaterial results. And yet, as Gillo Dorfles wrote in a famous article of 1951 about the MAC (concrete art movement) artists, even the most abstract solutions can hide the “amoeboid form of a cell, the aspects of strange organic and mineral structures. In short, nature can not be denied. The artists of the so called Italian “last naturalism”(or, mentioning Testori, “naturalism of participation”)made of it a point of strength and openly declared their debt to the humours of creation. Plunging into the earth they would find the rule, the geometry, the synthesis. The essential invisible to the eyes.

Just like them, Carola Mazot was not afraid of colour green. After the long season of the Sixties and Seventies, characterized by a crude and hard realism- that of her beautiful statuary heads of men hurt by life - in the first Eighties, the “torbati” tones of a painful, humanly moved painting, have made new motives and new shades emerge. Her initial epic of the humble people, followed by the dynamism of the cycles dedicated to musicians or to athletes captured at the top of their dash and tension, slides into the rustic serenity of the series about the gardens. In an unexpected,sudden, almost amazing way, Carola Mazot moved her piercing look from the movements of the body to those of nature and of its pulsation. This is how emerald green burst on the canvass. It sowed lawns wet with frost, ruffled the grass with bursts of bright colors. It climbed up the banks, wrapped up in trellis, spread in the underwood or fringed in the foliage of a blooming tree. No, Carola Mazot has never been afraid of colour green. Because she wanted very strongly that people felt nature within her more informal than ever paintings. She wanted the colour green to catalyze the feeling of the earth as much as it had done it for Morlotti or Mandelli. And at the same time, she wanted to be able to reach the extreme synthesis of the shape - reducing the image to a twig - without renouncing the call of the wilderness. A single green gesture to summarize the nature of a vegetable microcosm. As a child, listening to the daily lessons of her grandfather ( the post impressionist, Venetian painter Vettore Zanetti Zilla), Carola was struck by one of his suggestions. “He made me notice how many shades of green there are in a mass of trees”. It is not surprising that, even in her immediate gardens, the colour green changes from deep shadows to the pure light reflected by the leaves. And it is not surprising that, behind the invention of a nature concentrated within few, calculated buds spread out in the algid space of the surface, one can clearly see Paul Cezanne’s teaching. The absolute master of the landscape rendered in perfect geometries was certainly  not afraid of the implications of a cold colour. On the contrary, to him, green and blue had the prerogative to push the image far, to evoke deep perspectives, to make the layers of the atmosphere palpable. It is enough to think of his theoretical icon,the famous Sainte-Victoire mountain, the calcareous massif of Provence wrapped up in its bluish clouds. “I try to render the perspective only through the colour” he used to say. It is not casual that Carola Mazot when thinking back to the years of her youthful training at Donato Frisia’s studio, before applying to the Brera Academy, would remember that she had abandoned pencil preparation to “draw by painting”.

In the period of the gardens, that inheritance became more and more necessary and instinctive. The technique was that of nonfigurative painting. Energetic jets of material on the canvass. Elastic lashes, pink scratches for the magnolias, bristly knots for wild roses. But the subjects never got lost in the uncontrolled spontaneity of the hand. From the wild magma, peonies and brooms , and branches of figs folded by the wind, and bunches of hydrangeas wet with rain would sprout. “I had to draw  the great geometric mass which surrounded the figure” she would explain when she talked about the method and the composition. Yet another memorable  cezannian lesson. Mathematics and emotion. Without loosing sight of the volumes, Carola would then procede with the quickness of the outline. In this way, she captured the fleeting meaning of the events and respected the exact equilibria of the painting. An harmonic play of full and empty spaces rules, in fact, her pages filled with arboreal life. An almost oriental rigour opposes the thin lines and the hanks of colour to the uncut void of the setting. The vast breath of the colour white and of the canvass reminds you the experience of the void which pervades the magnificent and upsetting zen gardens, where certain isolated elements bring to mind the black spot of the Japanese  ideogram on the white of the panel.

In the series that frames an old trunk divided in two branches that open up solemnly towards the sky, you can find an ideal contact with the balanced plans of Hiroshige’s printings. The horizon is a segment in the colour white. The foreground is invaded by the dim roots that thicken in the shade. The rest is light and air. And as Carola was not afraid of the colour green, she was not afraid of the void either. Her work of the eighties gradually became more rarefied during the following decade. The luxuriant masses of the first flowered partial views started to dissolve into the ether to the point of remaining only as free particles of colour, traces of an aerial nature.

Even if she was not interested in surveying the borders of abstraction - having grown up studying the plastic lesson of Marino Marini or of Giacomo Manzu, in the end she arrived to an essential sign grammar. The extreme freedom of her sign and of her “wandering” line had produced automatic designs, unintentional reflexes of her heart emotions. The power of the unconscious, the most intimate passions guided her hand beyond the garden, in the territories of dream and lightness. There, also the roses and the magnolias would not have been the faithful transcription of a botanic subject, but the alibi for a trip beyond contingency to enquire about the lyrical dimension of creation and of its sylvan beauty.