Sandro Cherchi 1969
“In all the artists I knew, and they are quite a number, since when as a boy I completely devoted myself to art, I always noticed and greatly considered, a delicate modesty, just similar to an apology for the work done, almost like a hidden hope of doing better tomorrow to keep an unfulfilled promise.
Where I found this deep-set thought I paused to consider first the man and then the artist; I have never been betrayed by these observations on the man-artist. It was in Milan, among the friends of Corrente that I was able to better observe this mood and it was there that I came to know Attanasio Soldati’s delicate wait, Lucio Fontana’s generous and incredulous vehemence, Marino Marini’s intense silence, Valenti’s extreme shyness and Birolli’s likewise shy pride (it was not pride but an utmost faith in painting that made him similar to a hedgehog closed up in its armour), Mauro Reggiani’s patient “reasoning” and others, many others, risen to the highest positions of Italian art. And to remain among our Ligurian artists, what can we say about Camillo Sbarbaro’s crystal-clear loneliness, the frailty and strength of this man-artist, and on the other side, the height of his poetry? So, what attracts me in the man-artist is the man that after a subtle investigation reveals the artist. Eventually I knew Giovannoni, having been with him in Bardonecchia some days during a meeting and having seen some of his works and drawings, I was induced to know him better at home and know his recent production.
After meeting the man I expected, I met a painter, and for a painter I mean a poet who makes use of colours and signs for his poems. I found as well that fatigue of
real artists who through the daily knowledge of their means slowly aim at getting free of the means they have acquired to get to say much with little. However they understand that, as their store of craft is not slight their years of work long, it is necessary to proceed patiently with hard work exceeding their same work. Giovannoni’ world is the world of human labour and fatigue observed with sympathy. Fishermen, men employed for heavy works, women at work are the subject of his paintings but how far from neorealistic experiences; in such paintings it is possible to see also examples of collages made with pieces of canvas that give them quite a personal touch as they are bound to a free and rigorous drawing governed by the expressiveness of the sign that twists, charms, spreads and produces colour and tone, and the whole under the source of an inspiration lasting till the conclusion of the artistic work. It is not by chance that Giovannoni passed through an abstract experience when the group of “the Seven” came into existence at La Spezia in 1948 and just as well it is not by chance that Giovannoni did not stop at that experience. The craving for knowledge pervades him and even now he will not stop; he is still bound to know other things and so on again and again, to proceed therefore as every true artist to the enrichment of his soul, to the research of a new wonder, just the wonder we sometimes discover on his face.”
CORRADO CAGLI 1949
“Who followed the work and the activity of the painters in La Spezia during the last year cannot avoid understanding the meaning of “THE SEVEN” and the function the elements of such a group are having in their town. Actually, these seven characters, unlike and even antithetical, share a common impulse and consider painting a collective work: that is to say a way of painting that places the mother cause of an ever evolving painting language before the single painter’s hedonistic and self-centred reasons. First such an impulse suggests a higher ethical level to the painters who understand it and then it gives greater power to the idea these painters mean to follow. Under a critical pont of view, the point linking “The Seven” of the group of La Spezia is being inspired (to sound the very beginning) by the inner sight rather than by the visible images nature inspires us with “outside”. In other words that means “The Seven” are working on a way of painting that may convey ideas, therefore moved by such moral impulses so often confused by the official critic with aesthetic impulses.
In a second time the diversity of their individual vocations takes each of them to share different areas of the contemporary culture: Giovannoni, so much better and entirely renewed in a year’s time, is by now following the metaphysical tradition. In such a way “The Seven” do not simply offer the town of La Spezia two or three canvases, more or less well painted, according to the dictates of an academy, but a creative movement that will ever more determine a complex cultural element, able to give its remarkable contribution to new Italian painting in the years to come.”
“His landscapes, particularly those of the Five Lands, hidden in the gorges of the coast and along the slopes of the mountains, among steep rocks, with pines and olive trees growing on a handful of earth overlooking the sea, rather than painted on canvas seem to be engraved on a magic stone notched by a stroke of the brush that in a variety of colours, builds up the picture piece by piece, paying attention to bring masses and volumes into relief so as to trasform those houses, the sea and the countryside into a whole just emerging from a fairyland […]”