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daniele cantoni
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Antonello Rubini - The progress of an authentic artist

In his recent book on Gino Marotta, Maurizio Calvesi states in the Forward, giving reasons for the lines of his essay: “My teacher Lionello Venturi urged us, obviously about the studies he commissioned on the 16th and the 17th centuries, to provide detailed references to other people’s writings when expressing our opinions on any subject”. I think this is an appropriate method we can adopt also for an artist like Daniele Cantoni, who does not have a long list of critical reviews. And I will adopt it trying to work out the phases of his career, through biographical references and the artist’s words. “I have always loved colours, since I was a child, when I enjoyed painting anything in my hands, sometimes with the adults’ disapproval. A pastel was enough for me….it was enchanting to see how many shapes could come alive in a whirl of colours”. This is how Cantoni begins the story of his life as an artist. Later his gift was to find the right way into the Ceramics Art Institute in Faenza, a town which is well-known all over the world for its majolica. Here he met a master of sculpture, Angelo Biancini, for whom he made some moulds. This experience led him to carry out some plaster sculptures, and after a few years he devoted himself to “an experimental technique in painting with natural colours, earths and impastos prepared by myself”. At the age of 19 something special occurred in his artistic life. “During a visit to the small town of Sirmione, the paintinf exhibition “I Decalage” caught my curiosity and here I had the opportunity to meet Felix dé Cavero, an artist whose paintings have a tension and emotional suggestions which lead to an authentic “light bath” of primary colours. Getting to know him drove me to deepen my artistic experience”. “I Decalage”, for those who do not know, it the name of a group founded in the early 50s, among whose members are Attilio Aloisi, Nando Girardi and Felix dé Cavero. These artists, following the “Arts and Crafts”, produced works that, to say that like Raffaele De Grada did, are detatched from their subjective problems, resuming the experience of the medieval artistic craftsmanship. the purpose of the “workshop”.” Cantoni was interested not only in applied arts but especially in the pointillist language of the group. Thanks to this experience he started to develop his identity as an artist, reaching a second Futurism, as his painting Ritratto (1979) witnesses: “ In the early 80s I was interested in the materials (mortar, plaster, fresco); these old techniques are still part of my work, but with modern applications, as I was deeply influenced by the works with plaster effects of Franco Gentilini”. “In 1983 I took up figurative and landscape painting (anatomy, lights, shadows and shades); it was an experience which would be useful for my interpretative synthesis of colours.” This phase is rich in criticism. In Cantoni’s works one can find the real and the dream, history and myth, the social world and the individual, past and present, such as in Amore Informatico, 2000, with its technology made up of letters and geometrical codes. Moreover, Cantoni gives life to the complex anxiety of our times through his existential imagery, without any accusations or gloomy pessimism, but in a purely formal chromatic vision. He alternates pictorial to photographic works, pointing out the importance of light and colour, every now and then reaching decoration, like in Mio Padre, 1996 and La Famiglia, 1997. At a certain point Cantoni left the human figure and started painting the atmospheres of nature, portions of landscapes, midway between impressionism and espressionism, such as Notte Estiva, 2002. Yet, his mature abstractionism in more reminiscent of Klee than Kandinskij, because it subtly evokes reality, and most of his titles prove that: Africa, Savana, Autunno, Aratura, etc. The artist explains the meaning of such works: “They are a chromatic synthesis of what is left of my memories of places, seasons and human changes, sounds, emotions, feelings...everything colourful”. These works are often split up into vertical and horizontal volumetric portions, equally spaced out. His purpose is to work tridimensionally. Mingotti wrote: “Recently he has taken back his experience in sculpture and used it in painting”. His choice is sometimes playful, as he said: “I change my works like puzzle pieces, which you can put in or take out as in a game, the game of life. And here are my “decompositions”, which create rhythmic illusions, making the viewer’s eyes wander about the whole without perceiving the details”. Yes, wandering about the whole, letting oneself go through meandering itineraries of lines, colours and soft shades, which move the soul lirically. But his poetry does not need explaining. In order to enjoy it one simply has to listen to it and open their souls to the pleasant fragrance it exhales. His authentic imagination fulfils itself in this beautiful, skillful kind of painting, which is never imprecise or superficial, but always intense, perceptive and incisive. Fine, I said, because his works are aesthetically refined, pleasant and at the same time there is a drive which is a quality that all works of art should have. These days when the non-aesthetic, even the vulgar is fashionable Cantoni’s works look unusual and, I would say, bold. But he knows.