Italo Esposito drawing (2019).
Italo Esposito was born in Trapani, Sicily (Italy). In the early years of his life, during World War II, he lived first in Rome and then in Taranto. At around the age of ten, his family moved back to Sicily, in a country depressed and impoverished by the war.
Italo’s love for drawing and painting began early, first as playful imitation, then as attentive and accurate study of the drawings of his grandfather Raffaele (who had died in Naples in 1936), a sculptor and designer trained at the School of Vincenzo Gemito. Through this passionate and assiduous practice, the young Italo understood the mechanisms of pictorial and graphic techniques.
At the age of 18 he successfully passed the final exams of Liceo Artistico as an external student, despite the fact that he was self-taught, and had formally undergone only vocational training at the Istituto technico-professionale. This accomplishment allowed him to enrol at the Facolta’ of Architettura in Palermo (for which a diploma di Liceo was required). After obtaining his degree (laurea), he devoted himself to the profession of architect, which allowed him to express and develop his graphic language and creativity in planning.
Italo’s expressive itinerary in painting begins in the forms of a genuine and rational naturalism, free from academic influences, evolving into an expressive composure of forms, which at times reveals a pursuit of functionalism. Between the ‘60s and 70’s, his work attempts to capture the blinding light and bright colours of Sicily, as expressed in its ancient majolica, through the adoption of intense chromatic tones. The perceptive, continuous lines trace domestic and rural subjects, through ink on paper, watercolour on paper, oil on canvas, and oil on board. In the 80s his subjects deconstruct and reconstruct, at times enriched with an ironic and self-deprecating symbolism, in pursuit of ludic rather than expressive aims, through which he attempts to control form and light as concepts, while maintaining their strong evocative power.
The appearance of symbolism reflects a formal and expressive crisis, which continued throughout the 1990s, animated by a dissatisfaction with traditional techniques, and by the search for an enhanced luminosity of colours, and for expressive strength in their modelling. A period of stylistic and technical experimentation begins, in the course of which abstractism- and surrealism-inspired forms succeed one another through watercolour’s delicate shades or through the definite contrasts of ink and tempera.
From the beginning of the new millennium, Italo begins experimenting with digital graphics. A non-traditional language, digital graphics can be very effective in representing feelings, movements of the soul and the territories of the unconscious, because of its immediacy.
However brief, these explorations with digital graphics have allowed him to realise that it is impromptu-ness which imbues an intuitive gesture with meaning; that it is the medium of colour that widens the spectrum of spatial and visual sensations; that colour can be expansive and elusive even when the subject is sculptural.
Impromptu-ness becomes thus indispensable, because the hand that leaves its traces obeys to a motor impulse that comes from the depths of being, but that the eye corrects and perfects. The artist has sometimes directed his research towards surrealist expression, but the world revealed by the surrealist system is the magico-mythical world of the unconscious, with images that are under the clear plane of concepts. The artist attempts with his work to descend at a different level, deeper perhaps, at a psychophysical dynamism that is vital principle of being human, as filtered through the dramatic and violent culture of his land.
To actualise a pictorial space he does not begin from a preconceived conception or structure of space; nor does he begin from the perception of the real. Instead, he begins with perception itself, which is primary evocation of experiential instants. He does not have a project of definition and representation of the space, but he feels the need to give space to his own being, and to put his being into communication with Being at large. The initial impulse is to act in order to be. Space, that the act determines, has to be concrete, visible.
Therefore the artist’s work is not framed within the symbolic and iconographic systems typical of Sicilian culture, as much as it is imbued with a tendency towards a contemplative fatalism, as expressed by some Sicilian literature. His work is a primary experience, which excludes any hypotheses or premises. It is an intimistic need to express a personal sense of the world.