Faust Fragments - Part I and II
3.3m x 3.3m
An homage to Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Giorgio Strehler:
When to the moment I shall say,
"Linger awhile! so fair thou art!...."
This double-sided painting on canvas and silk is inspired by Goethe's poem, but
especially by the theater staging that Giorgio Strehler, the greatest Italian director,
produced in Milano in 1991-92. It was magic and the last major performance he
offered before he died in 1997. Theater is an essential part of my life as an artist,
and I had the chance to work with Strehler. Theater is also a special art that only
lasts during the time it is presented. No recordings will ever reproduce its peculiar
atmosphere. I know this well, since recently Strehler's Piccolo Teatro asked me
to make a special edition of Faust from their video archives, reducing it from
seven hours to two, for the European Theater Festival. It was a success, but I felt
frustrated. So I decided to make this artwork to convey, if possible, the same
magic I felt when I saw "Faust Fragments" in 1991.
Computers are very important to my way of painting, and I make extensive use
of them, from layout to the almost final image. In this case, I mostly worked with
a Quantel Graphic Paint Box to create images, and with a Mac for inputs and outputs.
I digitized many elements, textures that I made in a traditional way, calligraphic
drawings. Then I created 35 separate pieces: two quite big (3.30 metres x 3.30
metres) to be printed on canvas, the others of different sizes to be printed on
silk, with a large, professional-quality printer specially designed for fabrics.
A significant scenographic element of Strehler's staging was a spiral, which
symbolized Faust's life and his striving to move ahead. It was my starting point.
Around it, I wrote some verses of the poem. Then on one side I separately painted
33 significant dramatic moments (to be printed on silk, then sewn onto the canvas),
and on the other side I wrote and painted more verses, in German, English, and
Italian. I put all the pieces together and finished the artwork by painting over it
with oil and acrylic. To be seen on both sides, the artwork hangs from a special
support, robust and light, very easy to mount and transport.