Frédérique Malaval


In Costanzo Rovati there is a Cézannean « virginity of the world», in which the human and the worldly things assume a naive style, devoid of details and profusion of signs. The characters, rendered with a schematic anatomy, blend with the beige landscape, as in the work Universo vita 1,2,3 [Life Universe 1,2,3,], from 2009.  The background and the motif share the same beige and white colour matter (colours that draw back, unlike the brown female silhouette on the right of the painting). Flower, eggs, leaf, rays of light or shade, sun, child and human subjects, insist and present themselves in tension with a brown circle of arch (insistent and outgoing colour) on the right that, according to some detailed features, such as breasts, pregnant belly, a round for the head and three locks of blond hair, traces the profile of a woman in labour, pregnant with all the elements she contains and holds.

According to Costanzo Rovati, art invokes a return to the stammering edge, upstream of language, of worldly things and of forms.

It is a question of « painting the beginning of the world »[1], as Gilles Deleuze claims about Cézanne; this threshold is « the world before the world; there is something, it is not yet the world, it is really the birth of the world […],something that concerns the creation of the world »[2], and this « is an essential factor of painting »[3], the philosopher adds ; Cézanne « breathes the virginity of the world »[4], which is « the world before man and before the world itself ».[5]

Just as in Cézanne’s painting, there is a mark, a stance reaching out towards the pre-formal and the original, upon which Costanzo Rovati insists and digs.

Thus, the things that populate the world make use of a schematic and stylistic poetics, not at all realistic, but on the contrary evocative of childish oneirism, like the recurring characters, half human and half animals (Incontro [Encounter], from 2016, and Amanti [Lovers], from 2016)  or graphic (as seen in the work Un filo di speranza [A Ray of Hope],), just as is the case for the embraced couples, showing round heads deprived of details and a body showing the arms as its only limbs.

So, grasping the elements of the world and of humanity before their definite and definitive emergence, before their placement on the side of Eros and Thanatos; life does not wander around in a friendly manner arising from death, engaged in a Nietzschean existence. For the artist, it is rather a question of reconstituting them as disembodied motives, without pathos or heaviness, in the emotion of the appearance, touching and shy at the same time; looking with a virgin eye what comes before the objective creation.

Time remains suspended from the volatile intangible of creatures and things, the latter being perceived in a non-pregnant light that appeared to the then still virginal man, bearer of a facetious and naive look on the edge of every nature. The light, which is not at all the protagonist of the work, does not illuminate the motifs, but caresses the colours (not primary, but verging on lively pastel), revealing them as a worldly thing, devoting itself to highlight as the one who reveals. Lightness of the proscenium of the world, serenity of motifs, the canvasses let out a rustle but do not speak too loudly. Costanzo Rovati’s painting proposes life without castration or tragedy, naked and new at its origins, whose secret, as well as that of art, seems to be reabsorbed in a soft and homogeneous presence, devoid of ontological anguish.

Therefore: « […] being, at every word, contemporary with the first man: an Adamo of words ».[6]

Montpellier 2018

[1] Gilles Deleuze, Sur la peinture [On Painting], Part 1, comment on Cézanne.

[2] Gilles Deleuze, Sur la peinture [On Painting], Part 1.

[3] Gilles Deleuze, Sur la peinture [On Painting], Part 1.

[4] Gilles Deleuze, Sur la peinture [On Painting], Part 1.

[5] Gilles Deleuze, Sur la peinture [On Painting], Part 1.

[6] Jacques Lacarrière, À l’orée du pays fertile [ON the Edge of the Fertile Country], Complete poetic works, Preface by Jean-Pierre Siméon, Éditions Seghers, Paris, 2011.