Domenico Montalto

The Dream’s Score

Domenica Regazzoni works on the boundary between music and silence. But in her case, “music” represents a quality, a formal subtlety that goes beyond an obvious and immediate citation of the discipline of music, of the simple ready made, of the reuse – albeit ingenious – of the trouvailles of the artisan’s workshop. Here Domenica – from a family of artists, the daughter of a sublime violin-maker – certainly does not conceal her familiarity with things that are dear to her, with the objects of her father’s work, with the working “recipes” learned directly from him, or discovered after his death from his notes. She does not hide – on the contrary, she flaunts – a desire to honour that knowledge and to hopefully find, in those relics, a little of the life that has irremediably passed. This, almost as though to recover – in the manipulation of these objects and materials, in the perfume of varnish, in the colours of wood, in the sound of strings – the sensual memory (alive and present therefore, in a certain sense) of a period that has come to an end: childhood, the age of youth. Domenica knows what the poet Antonio Machado intended when he wrote: “I remember only the emotion of things/ and forget the rest”. This memorial sphere, this feeling for things, together with an inventive nature that is always fresh and startling, result in “sculptures” that become profound metaphors, visual and conceptual symbols in which the original nature of each part (the pieces and fragments of musical instruments) gains a new use: no longer that of sound but of form. Here I return to the word “music”, the quid that goes beyond mere visual pretext: in other words it indicates new, unique and very sophisticated “architectures” or sculptural images, achieved through the varied and specific processes of sculpture: wood carving from life, collage made of several materials, bronze fusion, processes which nonetheless combine with others that are typically pictorial, such as gilding with gold leaf, the application of pigmented cloths, and painting and glazing using stains that confer lustre and sophistication. Each of these pieces by Regazzoni is a construction endowed with its own rhythm, a musicality that is the very physicality of art, obtained, as the ancient used to say, through lineis et coloribus, in other words through the specific co-ordinates of visual language. Virtuoso violinist of the third dimension, that of sculpture, Domenica reassembles in new images – at times in a geometric way and at other times in a freer way, according to very personal strategies – the scattered single components of the family’s instrument: boards, tuning pegs, ribs, bridges, volutes, scrolls, necks, finger boards, strings. Everything is shaped, glued, tied, dried and refinished, sometimes moulded, and always on the tenuous threshold between sculptural and pictorial qualities. This is because in Regazzoni’s work, sculpture is only modulation (or intonation, to keep to musical terminology), in short, the part of a whole, continuous, incessant and abundant interior working-out, the experience of thorough, untiring and multifarious work that includes – with equal interest and dignity – painting, drawing and serial graphics, treated with great care and attention to the material itself, to the visual fascination and tactile richness of the medium: the inks, tones, surfaces, paper and ornamentation. From figurative beginnings, Regazzoni moved to a kind of “abstraction” with references to nature (the nest, for example) and personal and cultural history (wood, both virgin and worked); congenial “abstraction”, by choice, in order to translate oneiric interiority. She wrote, with the selfanalytic clarity which is the gift of only great artists: “for me doing a painting is not a test of skill; it is sometimes a sort of interior cry that needs to reach someone, at other times a hushed melody that has to arouse delicate, nameless feelings. My naturalism is not one of observation but of participation – I try to evoke (as much as I can) what is beneath the surface of things: this is why at times the purpose of a line is no longer to represent something; freed from secondary aspects, it takes on its own intimate music, an interior force”. Regazzoni’s art does not describe or represent, nor does it symbolize something: it participates in what is behind appearances and what surrounds us, that is, the ethereal. Her art accomplishes this by evoking a new aesthetic content with the invention of exquisite and graceful forms, revealing a “secret song”, which is an image from the great poet Antonia Pozzi, whose verses Domenica loves and has illustrated. This “secret song” however, is interiorized; it is silent, hidden in the silence of form. Here finally we reach the other side of Domenica’s work: silence. Because the image, in that it is structure or architecture of sense and the senses, is in itself mute: “Painting is poetry which we see but do not hear”, wrote Leonardo da Vinci. With her violins “brought to life” (Gillo Dorfles) Domenica resurrects the harmony of the spheres; she brings together diverse worlds and she reawakens us to a new vision, knowing – as Thomas Mann wrote in Doctor Faust – that “music and language [that is, form] go hand in hand, because at bottom they are one and the same thing”. Regazzoni’s art, poetry’s score, which is so rational and spiritual at the same time, also presents us with a small paradise.