Since the dawn of the modern era, the tendency toward the self observation, toward the introspection, has progressively made its way among the artists, and by reflection the whole society. This notion would be enough to make people declaring they still not understand contemporary Art to change their mind. Despite this, with the attainment of a superior crypticism, the interpretation of the expressive contents has become necessary.
Many contemporary artists manifest themselves with a personal intimist language, or they describe a self-referential imaginary. In some cases this may be due to the necessity to sublimate passions and uneasiness, and in other to the difficulty to represent extremely deep, thin, abstract or metaphysical feelings. In the first case, the introspection (the analytical course that passes through self) represents the necessary and one only way to avoid intolerable other options, the halt caused by the impossibility to go on, the contemplation of the past, the searching backward along the humanity's journey for that deviation from which we arrived to the actual condition. A stepping back that eventually will take to the ancestral origins. And in those same origins there are the archetypes of the cryptic expression, which, in the second case, constitutes the predominant and peculiar characteristic of this Art that always originates in the arduous attempt to explain the intangible.
This introspective journey through Art starts in the Renaissance, thanks to the change caused by the artists of these times who redeemed the value of their own intellectual individuality, which became real in the first self-portraits in Art's history, like the ones of Jean Fouquet and Albrecht Dürer. The Renaissance is that period in which the modern Artist was born, which emancipated itself from the subdued position of workman, labourer or artisan, bringing its own individuality to a worthy higher consideration. The analysis of its own exterior image has then evolved in that of the human mind and of the inner life, both physical and psychic: from the anatomical studies of Leonardo da Vinci to the sculptures by Gunther von Hagens, from the oneiric symbology of the paintings by Hieronymus Bosch to the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud. Since Renaissance till today, the representation of the deep and the unfathomable has been the strong element of many artistic movements: the Metaphysical Art of De Chirico, the Surrealism of Dalì, the Symbolism of Moreau, the Blake's one, the Oneirism, and obviously the Expressionism, founded on the interpretation of reality through the filter of one's own inner life, of which artists like Kubin and Munch are masters. This journey reaches its apex in movements of strong crypticism like the Abstract Surrealism, the Abstractism, the Minimalism of Jean Arp, arriving up to, paradoxically, the extreme antithesis, for example as in the annihilation of any individual expression of the Pittura Analitica.
Surely history has been always marked by horrible and blameworthy events, and the search for introspection provides, besides the soothing for the wounds, also an escape-valve for the spirit. That's why contemporary Art is so permeated by this necessary analysis of the self and the human being: it is a research aimed to understand and to solve the causes that lead to the sufferings of mankind. And thanks to the diverse approaches with which the contemporary artists face this research, no path is omitted. There is who is devoted to the introspective analysis of self: the first performances about the interaction with space by Bruce Nauman and those about human interaction by Marina Abramović; the insertion of her own image into the common imaginary done by Cindy Sherman and the manifestation of the own inner imaginary of Francesca Woodman; the evanescent serial self-portraits by Roman Opalka and the representation of the personal subconscious of Matthew Barney. Others are devoted to this research exploring the sensorial reality and the tangible essence of the human being: the upsetting photographic allegories by Joel-Peter Witkin; the radiographic chimeras of Benedetta Bonichi; the overturning of the concept of Vanitas that Damien Hirst proposed with the famous skull covered with diamonds. Others else, staying between the physical observation and psychic expression, represent the human mind perceiving those thin signals with which it shows in the sensorial reality: the misty portraits by Gerhard Richter; the algid realism with which Rineke Dijkstra represents the human essence; the sarcastic sensibility with which Ruth Gwily succeeds in describing the uneasiness; the immanent condemnation of the human beings painted by Guy Denning.
Elle has participated in several collective and solo exhibitions in the Tigullio, Merano, Rome and United States of America. Prizes: American Red Cross Saturno Foundation. Studies: Istituto Statale d'Arte of Chiavari, Accademia di Belle Arti of Genoa. The thematics of her paintings are devoted to the remembrance and to the world of human history. The decay is always present, as if it had to remember the caducity of everything is alive and that, anyway, will be inherited to the posterity as experience.
Sara Manotti takes advantage of photography to represent the dense pathos that springs from her imaginary. She took part in several collective photographic exhibitions in the Tigullio and in contemporary Art exhibitions in Zoagli, Genoa and Milan organized curated by Jizaino. Studies: Istituto Statale d'Arte of Chiavari, DAMS of Bologna and Giuliana Traverso's school of photography in Genoa.
Roman Opałka Self portraits series, 1965 / 1 - ∞ Black and white photographs on paper, 24 x 30,50 cm
Gerhard Richter Alfons Strawalski, 1966 Oil on canvas, 95 x 72 cm
Bruce Nauman Walking in an Exagerated Manner around the Perimeter of a Square, 1967-68 16 mm film, 10’30”
Francesca Woodman Senza titolo (Providence, Rhode Island), 1975-1978 Black and white photograph
Abramović / Ulay Imponderabilia, 1977 Performance Sean Kelly Gallery
Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still #6, 1977 Black and white photograph 95,9 x 73 cm
Joel-Peter Witkin Woman Once a Bird, 1990 Gelatin silver print 92,7 x 73,2 cm
Rineke Dijkstra Coney Island, N.Y., USA, June 20, 1993 Chromogenic print 153 x 128,9 cm
Matthew Barney Cremaster 3 (a character) 2002 35 mm film, 182’
Benedetta Bonichi La collana di perle, 2002 X-rays photograph
Damien Hirst For The Love of God, 2007 Platinum cast of a human skull covered with 8,601 diamonds
Ruth Gwily Obsession, 2007 Illustration
Guy Denning tu hai l’arsura e ‘l capo che ti duole, 2010 Oil and mixed media on 2 canvas panels, 76 x 112 cm