When drawing becomes art – in the constant pursuit of female beauty through women’s seduction and charm
Suddenly, like a flash of inspiration, I experienced the meaning of “silent transport”, which every piece must have in order to be a called “a work of art”. This happened the first time I saw Theophany [Teofania] by Omar Galliani. This occurs when a work of art approaches the sublime, the question of the absolute and the sacred, beyond philosophical or theological speculations. The Emilian artist writes: “My Theophanies reside everywhere … Faces removed from the oblivion of the present and returned to the ideality of the transcendent. Even what is drawn, sculpted, photographed or painted work expresses itself in “theophany” as a manifestation of the sublime. Sublimation of incongruous matter that takes shape, form… anima mundi “.
My interest in the work of this artist originated from the magnetic attraction towards that face, a home to the infinite. The artist made that face the cornerstone of his intense artistic and spiritual research. In doing so, he also crossed the boundaries that form the geography of faces and those of matter – graphite – that makes up the drawing. The work of art becomes a journey, a crossing of lands where a subject’s gaze sinks into the mystery of life. These are faces stolen on the street, arising from random meetings that, step by step, are sublimated through the patience of the artist’s hands, requiring hours, days, and months of work. We find an infinite weave of signs and markings that become labyrinths, this geography engraved on large poplar tables saturated with graphite, transparencies, and created according to that elusive order of a great musical composition.
“I generally use poplar boards because it is white and it is also the wood of my rivers. Those rows could be my drawings“. They are boards that the artist personally prepares to make them ready to retain the brilliance of the graphite.
“Graphite is originally a geological layer that precedes diamond by a few million years… Graphite looks like its opposite, it appears black as the dark, yet if you look at it, it is bright, it reflects light.“ Graphite and diamond, the masterful alternation of light and shadow, the absolute contrast of black and white, the eternal struggle of Eros and Thanatos. The same struggle that the artist engages with his own physical limit and with the work, sublimating the body of the material and transfiguring it in the face that slowly emerges from the board or panel.
In the small town of Montecchio Emilia, where he was born, he has a home and a studio. Here, in a countryside quite distant from Italy’s artistic centres, he creates his larger works, full of extraordinary beauty. Even at a very young age, his art reached distant lands: from the São Paulo Biennial in Brazil to the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, and then Nagasaky, Hiroshima, Philadelphia and New York. His creations have been to Europe’s capitals: Paris, London, Berlin and Prague. Since 2000, the artist has also been to China a number of times: dozens and dozens of exhibitions in Shanghai and Beijing, as well as the first prize at the Art Biennial of the Chinese capital while also teaching in various universities of the Celestial Empire.
The entire world recognizes Omar Galliani as the most credible heir of the great tradition of “Italian drawing”, and not solely as a contemporary artist. Gallian’s teachers are the masters of the Renaissance, from Leonardo to Raphael to Caravaggio, the domes and canvases of the masters of Parma and Bologna. Degas should also be included. From Vermeer, he captured the dusting of light, which is the matter in his paintings, transforming it into the charm of the dust of the pencil. We then glimpse the impossible dream of the Pre-Raphaelites, and again the look of the Traveling Angel by the French artist Gustave Moreau, in the winged beings suspended between celestial destiny and earthly adventure, in this being who also represents loss.
From his teacher, Federico Belicchi, a great artist who focused on truth and reality, he learned the unusual use of the ballpoint pen to draw through specks left as deposits on porous paper. The ink changes colour over time, creating beautiful effects. Consequently, the elegant “Rosa” of 1978 come to be, blossoming in the diary of a youthful journey to New York. This marked the beginning of an ideal adventure that continues in a thousand faces, above all female, so real and yet at the same time ethereal – a wonderful combination of earth and the heavens.
Those faces of great and authentic beauty, full of mystery, invite us to take on a perspective that starts from within. Their eyes are half closed and their gaze is entirely internal. Yet they look at you. Their gaze goes beyond any physical limit, suggesting paths that lead to Beyond, returning to that gaze. They are contemporary “icons” that reveal a sacredness that is both life and death. Veins and hearts of blood pigment beat vigorously in the chest of modern-day men and women, crowned with gold or thorn haloes. This is a cry out to remind us that we are life and not empty solitudes clouded by well-being and the media. They remind us that we are Light.
Maria Laura Sultana