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Simona Clementoni



"La vida es sueño" stated Pedro Calderón de la Barca (in 1635), the last great voice of the Spanish Siglo de Oro. The same profound conviction, but leading to a totally opposed existential view, substantiates the pictorial journey of Luca Dall'Olio, the 50 year-old artist from Brescia, who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. 

To the pessimism and skepticism of Jesuit mark of the playwright from Madrid, which leads to resignation and to the sense of the vanity of human activity, Dall’Olio opposes an optimistic and progressive view, in which no possibility is precluded to a man who is curious and open to introspection. There is never resignation in his vision. If you are looking for it, a way of salvation is always there. 

In the deepest respect for what renowned critics such as Vittorio Sgarbi, Luciano Caprile or Gabriele Boni have written about him, but setting it aside, I will try to venture into his magical world, relying only on the clues that the artist scatters here and there like the crumbs of Tom Thumb. 

The illuminating headlines of his works are the first keystone to his secret box. Feeling confident of his help, I grab the hand which the artist silently offers me, and trustfully, I prepare to follow him. Wonder is what he asks of me, the ability to free my soul from the shell hardened by the customs, stereotypes and conventions of contemporary living, frantic, deafening and blinding. He invites me to soar on the delicate wings of dreams and fancy, to rediscover the unconscious dimension of my being, to go beyond reality, beyond the senses. But my soul is frightened, my fearful heart resists. I suffer from dizziness trying to follow him, but he clasps my hands, holding me tightly; he looks into my eyes and offers me the comforting shelter of his arms. 

Reassured, but with uncertain step, I cross the threshold, I enter his enchanted world and let myself be enveloped in magic. My heart swells, emotions flow freely, without limits, my senses burn and the veil is torn away, finally allowing my eyes and my intellect to see. It is a moment of epiphany, out of time and space. With bated breath, I see the uncontaminated places of childhood, when I felt I had everything, and anything was possible. Fervently I want to go on. I do it on tiptoe so as not to upset that superhuman silence and profound stillness which give me unknown pleasures and a sense of absolute freedom. 

Now the artist moves away from me, leaving me alone in my gradual descent into the depths of my soul, so that I may rediscover my feelings, the impulses of desire and the thrill of the senses. What I see is a different world, but where I can recognize reality: the bucolic and idyllic one, with winding hill slopes covered with a lush vegetation of pines, cypresses and palm trees. The sky, full of colors, embroidered with burning stars and shining curls, is mirrored in calm waters wrapped in a soft and soothing light. 

It is a still world, devoid of any trace of human presence, yet a human history must have taken place on those enchanted shores, as evidenced by the paths that gently and harmoniously penetrate into the vegetation; by the clusters of red-roofed houses which raise to the immensity of the heavens and which, lacking in doors and windows, seem to have trapped their occupants inside; by the architectural components with a metaphysical flavour which harmonize with the landscape. They are archaeological remains of ancient civilizations, capitals and columns of Greek temples, oriental domes and embattled castles of medieval memory. Nostalgic echoes of times gone by, when Man's work was still genuine, respectful of nature and its inviolable beauty; when life was on a human scale and allowed breaks of serenity. Now, stunned by all sorts of noise pollution, alienated by the hectic rhythm of modern life, the individuals, having lost their emotions and the ability to wonder and dream, get lost while searching for false truths. 

The longed for happiness, as the Holy Grail of ancient knights, continues to elude them, evading their most intimate aspirations. Here, at this stage of impasse, comes the saving intervention of the artist with his heartfelt plea to join him there, in those wonderful corners of the world where we can color the sky, the sea, hills, houses, towers and castles of the colors of our soul; where we can see and believe what we want, because our inner life has no limits or boundaries. Suddenly, I realize I have found the second key to his casket: the dream, the life blood for the soul, the way to salvation. The dream, a refuge from ordinary life, gives me soothing breaks, corners of earthly paradise always accessible because their genesis is in me. Following the path of the heart, I rediscover the value of the essential and the essential is enough. This is the truth; this is the elusive Grail. 

The artist, who had discreetly left me alone in my introspective journey, gently reappears at my side just to confirm, with a smile, the correctness of my discovery. With calm and gentle ways, with his painting made of warm and passionate tones, of gaudy colours which communicate the power of dreams an imagination, with his “perspectiveless” figuration, halfway between Naturalism and Surrealism, Luca Dall'Olio has led me to rediscover my deepest self; he has allowed me to regain the freshness of childish wonder, the mysterious power of the unconscious and the value of imagination as an outflow of daily tensions. 

I would call his painting "dialogical" or "dramatic" as the absence of human figures in his works is matched by the constant presence of a privileged but invisible interlocutor, reported by his constant addressing to a "you" (Looking together with you, I was thinking of you, Maybe I will meet you, Here in your dreams) in which I think I can gather a double meaning: if on the one hand it is likely to be a woman, his muse, on the other hand I would like to see in it a heartfelt talk between the artist and his observer. First it is the painter who invites, encourages, motivates him to undertake his inner journey (We will be there together, Let’s go together, I’ll come back to you), then it is the observer who, in his uncertainty, looks for reassurance (Keep holding me in your hands, You're here by my side), yearns for a meeting (Perhaps I will meet you, A few minutes and I’ll see you) and then he breaks out in gratitude (You have found me, Tuned to you, Something to be divided between the two of us). That "something to be divided between the two of us", what the observer will share with the artist, if he/she manages to meet him, is the pleasure to be touched and surprised, the ability to dream with open eyes, the certainty that life is an endless dream, the confidence in the possibility of an imminent recovery of Man and civilization, if only he will be able to treasure the teachings of the past. 

Everything happened tomorrow, You will find the rest tomorrow. No statement could be more explicit than these titles. As in Francis Bacon’s famous image of the "dwarfs on the shoulders of the giants", the past and the present intersect in building the future. We, modern dwarfs, should take advantage of the experience accumulated by the giants of the past and be more far-sighted. We should learn to «alternate ... the experiences we live with all the possible illusions and extraordinary dreams». To progress, civilization must believe that nothing is unattainable. Looking at reality with curiosity and uninhibited eyes, filtering it with fantasy and imagination, even Utopia becomes possible.

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