M.GAUTHEIR

Critical text - 1954

Through the brightness of his art one just perceives a sort of repressed anguish. It is not evident, not facile, not superficial. It originates from the almost physical presence of the fluctuating nature of the volcano that witnessed his birth. And in this connection Calogero said to me: “I did not have a very happy childhood, but I don’t regret having suffered...”.
The hard apprenticeship that has brought this artist into the limelight is completely different from that generally undertaken in public or private academies from which the individual emerges, more or less often, deprived of everything that is not mainly acquired by study, by talent and by genius and also from that experience of life that could give him the possibility of falling back in the case of failure of the career undertaken. Painting, in my opinion, is only a mental fact. In this connection, Leonardo da Vinci, like many others, told the truth. But painting is also a manual fact.
Painting in any old way, as too often people do today, anything that strikes one mentally, can sometimes give results whose charm can be unpredictable.


It is important to paint well, that is to say to be able to work out profound content, a healthy and precious subject rigorously guaranteed against a dishonourable disadvantage of deterioration that in the course of time would alter the harmony of the colour and the background painting, elements that instead absolutely must be linked and consolidated together.
Jean Calogero’s paintings are made to grow old admirably. They are not products of chance, but of method and determination. This is rare enough to be a worthy point of merit... Calogero’s works have a movement, an inexplicable brightness, the recipe for which one would seek in vain in a dissertation on aesthetics. Both the initiate and the profane are struck by it. It is the great mystery of talent, a miracle that happens without the help of pedagogy and that has never been repeated twice.

W.GEORGE

Critical text - 1956

A painting that in his eyes is a fabulous object, full of poetry, Paris, as Calogero saw it; it has nothing in common with the city that Camille Pissarro, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Albert Marquet or Maurice Utrillo painted.
There is a little reason to suspect that our Sicilian artist tried to render the light, the colour of the atmosphere of Paris. The grey skies of l’Ile de France, the skies that Corot loved, did not fascinate Calogero, whose style is nevertheless a fast and sensitive review of feelings coinciding and exact as if set down in shorthand. Its surfaces are broken by lines of colour; all of its splashes are irregular. The fronts of the houses, the windows of the stores, the posters, the women that stroll about in the streets, and even their shadows, are all rendered in exactly the same way.
But Calogero’s sparkling “tachism” directly derives from the technique of the 19th-century Italian school of the “Macchiaioli.” Yet it is not very far from following the photographic system of impressionism, as it was practised on the banks of the Seine at the time of Claude Monet; using a technique that allows him to instantly capture the fleeting moment, Calogero achieves a style of expression that is at the same time original and new. Intuition works here as a tool for exploring time.


Calogero’s works can be classified not by periods but in the end through a distinct painting series. His production sometimes includes puppets and scenes of silent life, the dark and fantastic landscapes that are the scenes of action in dialogue, and the bright views of Paris where the artist’s line is different from that of his Italian period.
The two poles of Calogero’s work seem to be his love for pretence and his sense of reality. At times these two extremes meet.
An Argonaut was armed from head to foot; Calogero sets out to conquer new continents and mysterious islands. His live interests, his daring, his spirit of adventure and his instinct as a visionary lyricist – all this prevents him from making use of the already invented forms of production in series.

M. Gautheir "Through the brightness of his art one just perceives a sort of repressed anguish. It is not evident, not facile, not superficial. It originates from the almost physical presence of the fluctuating nature of the volcano that witnessed his birth."

W. George "A painting that in his eyes is a fabulous object, full of poetry, Paris, as Calogero saw it; it has nothing in common with the city that Camille Pissarro, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Albert Marquet or Maurice Utrillo painted."

F.C. TOUSSAINT

Critical text - 1958

Calogero... his musical name seems to derive from an alteration of the word calligraphic. This can be the best definition of his style. Since overpopulated space has only been able to enter life through self-affirmation and accurate technique, Calogero has never used the clean and austere line of an existing architecture.
But his line is distant from being meaningless. It is as if he saw through a misted window or reflected in a pond rippled by the wind. But one needs to make a comparison between the modeled line of the pillars of Italian churches and severe classical columns to see that Calogero’s vision increases; actually, Venice taught him all this. The landscapes of Place de la Concorde, of Rome or of Venice, following our never immovable eye, always dance a slow, happy and polite minuet that is very similar to that of the buildings reflected in the canals and in the fountains.
Always mutable and versatile, Calogero considers himself the master of every technique and every means. His paintings are never overloaded with ornaments: plaster relief for the palazzos, flat surfaces for the flowers, stupendous transparency of glass, magnificence of stones and jewels at times placed in vases; delicate, almost female contours with bridges blend in a harmonious horizontal line.


This alternation, this prodigality, this mastery of colours and forms give the sensation of touching the true picture...
Looking at his paintings one by one (or better, different ones) you can bet that Calogero’s sensitive and somewhat sensual art is sustained by a strong ability of an artist that gives his world a freshness that seems almost natural at that time. Thus, in its final orchestration, this strange and Baroque world, full of life, made of memories, and perhaps of presentiments, is so exact in its dissertation that the most severe classicist would envy it. This is the reason why this world fascinates the perspicacious critic in the same way as a sensitive lover.

F. GALLO

Critical text - 1985

Jean Calogero’s painting is founded upon the inventive game of imagination. A fervent game of landscape and chromatic gimmicks, almost an inexhaustible repertoire of images all rich in colour and narrative. Yes, because Calogero’s pictures are narrations of facts, which could happen if we were more willing to open the doors to the magic of the combination of the dream.
This is a combination that puts together the ordinary and the extraordinary, just like that, simply, but for this very reason with a major surprise result. This is a result that is not nourished on the too much, the excessive, but demands lightness, the gentle touch, to be in tone with itself, with the time of the imaginary journey. The polarities of this journey are Sicily on one side and Paris on the other, two deep loves; experienced without reserva- tions, without a safety net. Sicily is the original imprinting, that of the native place that gives you the first colours, the first words, the first loves, the first hates. Paris is the encounter with Europe, with the great names of international art, with what is done and said from an elevated outlook.
Calogero puts together the colours of Sicily and the atmosphere of Parisian surrealism, and from it derives a cheerful sense of feast, a stretching out of long walks in places that at times are Sicily, at times Paris or Venice, at times pure whim without corresponding to any specific place, as happened in so much eighteenth-century painting: Calogero expresses a genuine feeling of being in images, an ability to transmigrate without moving, in ecstatic rapture over curious flying animals, sui generis creatures, suspended aloft, to give amazement. Yet inside the picture nothing succeeds in upsetting anything, as if everything was taken for granted and there was nothing to be surprised at. The amazement is outside the picture, arrested, at its outer edge, by a skilled strategy of measure, of mixture, or filter if you like.
Calogero uses surrealism as a mirror of convergences, as a funnel for reduction to oneness of the manifold, the confused, the absolutely incoherent to be made coherent. The whole is made compact by the radiant colours in an eternal spring, by an inexpressible rainbow palette, by an announcement of quiet after the storm. Nothing that is not light is assumed by Calogero in his painting, everything is impalpable like white pollen whirling in the air, to follow the most timid breaths of wind that push him here and there, so much pollen as to make the calm air mobile and to draw hippogriffs or flying fishes where there is nothing but air, sun and white flocks.


Thus from nothing Calogero makes whole histories emerge under the parasols, in the shade of towers and ships that overwhelm the perspective and the background, moving into the foreground, as if to say that we are in the world of a thousand and one nights, in the world of inverted perspective, where a song is heard louder and louder as we move away from the voice that sings.
Jean Calogero encloses in his painting the memory of his childhood that has not been wiped out with the passing of time, but indeed has been strengthened in the expression of a volatile kingdom of imaginative magic, candid white magic, from which witches and ogres are banished, just as Don Quixote and the irony of the chivalrous are also banished – also in the presence of a little world of riders with an uncertain gait: but this is an epic of puppets, entrusted to willing childish enjoyment. It is that childishness that survives in everybody and that made the poet write that he had inside him a little child, the true author of his poetry. Calogero’s pictures are great estranging sceneries; in them there is never the simulation of historical existence, there is always theatrical appearance, deliberately emphasizing the difference, the individuality of the artistic space as a space proper to illusion and allusion. The rule of art is always respected, as the rite is respected in a big market, as the ceremony is respected on the arrival of ambassadors from a distant country.
Inside Calogero’s painterly space there is always the gaze, the strategy of observation, the observation lent and the observation received. The painterly figures seem to pose for a snap, waiting for the fateful click, but at the same time observe themselves too, as if scrutinizing beyond the horizon of the visible.

F. Gallo "Jean Calogero’s painting is founded upon the inventive game of imagination. A fervent game of landscape and chromatic gimmicks, almost an inexhaustible repertoire of images all rich in colour and narrative."

F.C. Toussaint "Calogero. His musical name seems to derive from an alteration of the word calligraphic. This can be the best definition of his style. Since overpopulated space has only been able to enter life..."

P. GIANSIRACUSA

Critic text - 1996

“When I paint, I get in front of the canvas and it is as if I shut myself up in a crystal bubble. A journey through the imagination starts and I don’t know where it will take me....”
These words of Jean Calogero’s contain the secret of his painting. All critical acrobatics seeking to explain the artist outside this trace, this thought, would commit the error of betraying his poetic message.
The magic world of Jean Calogero, made of spaces concretely experienced and spellbound places that belong to dream, is a “reality parallel to the one we perceive with the eyes.”
The artist always painted with the same sentiment even if the formal and expressive variations, obvious where action is the exercise of intelligence, could make us think otherwise. Since the first works of the post-war period, doughy in the warm colour of the nudes and the melancholy circus figures, one feels the strong bond with modern European painting and in particular French. [...]
The French sojourn gave the artist the chance to immerse himself in the fast rhythm of present art and to see the places of memory in a sublimated way. Away from his Acicastello, away from the towns dear to the journeys of his imagination, in Paris, while the eyes and the mind wandered freely among the lights of the boulevards, the wing of dream flew lightly over the domes of Montmartre, and Etna appeared like a blue cloud, with the rocks of the Cyclopes among the scented orange tree and the complex architectures of the prickly pear plants, and Venice with its palaces afloat on the water and the airy bridges, peopled with figures, suspended between the sea and the sky.
In the same way when he returned to Sicily, to the land of myths, to his oasis of peace opposite the sea of the Malavoglias, at the foot of the mountain of fire covered with lemon trees, light and white there reappeared Paris with the Madeleine, the Sacré Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Place de l’Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe, the Boulevard Des Capucines. And in the billows of passion there was Venice with its Ducal Palace, the Ca’ D’Oro, the Canal Grande and the regattas with the fish-shaped bucintoro boat of the doges, agile as a blue hot-air balloon competing with an agile white horse, uncatchable like the images of dreams. The same goes for Rome with Bernini’s fountains, big and intrusive, and the Baroque churches, bright under the arc of the Sun. Jean Calogero “travels” continually, blending the images of the places experienced in the tunnel of dreams, driving the being to other places, in present towns and in towns of the memory interwoven under the thrust of his feelings, his sensations. [...]
The styles of the architecture are remodelled with a new code and all the cities of the world are assembled in an individual, original, urban hybrid… Jean Calogero’s coloured dreams originate from his scribbles; his imaginary journeys are contained in those graphic notes that he traces out continually on fragments of newspapers, on cardboard clippings, on scattered sheets of diaries and notebooks.
The artist everywhere notes down his compositional ideas, he arrests them on paper waiting for them to fill with content, colour, material. Then when the yeast of the imagination moves into the tunnel of dream, the figures simply traced out become solid presences, the spaces just hinted at are turned into deep perspectives. In the same way, the indefinite architectures take on identity and construct the urban places of memory.
To Acicastello, more than to any other town, he dedicates his resounding colours, his graphic reflections, though the heart and the mind often dream of Paris, Venice and the great European capitals.
As an authentic surrealist Calogero, in his painterly development, always starts from a concrete reality, from a place deeply experienced. Every chromatic flight amid harlequins and architectures, amid riders and muses, amid festive umbrellas and bright harbours, has an emotional origin that now springs from Acicastello or from Paris, now from Venice or from Rome, but always in those spaces of life to which the heart is deeply tied.
However, in the poetic “rapture” every spatial reference loses its initial characteristics and even where the Sacré Coeur, Sant’Agnese in Agone, the basaltic rocks... seem to be intended to represent known places, the painting tells of an ideal city that has the Parisian domes, the Roman fountains, the Venetian canals, the sky and the sea of the coast of Acicastello. [...]
The cliff of Acicastello, like Pienza and Urbino in the painterly dreams of the artists of the Italian Renaissance, becomes a “landing strip” for an ideal city. Ideal, precisely, nonexistent on the earth but alive in the poetic vision of Jean Calogero. As in Elio Vittorini’s “Cities of the world” (1950), with the apropriate differences linked to the political-social implications that characterize the work of the Syracuse writer, Calogero, contrary to what one might think, absolutely does not want to escape, does not want to go outside the authentic, but wants if anything to find the deepest roots of our existence.
To find them again and confirm them in a vision, in an image of civilization, his possible one, which is different from the present one. With this image the painter re-establishes the equilibriums in human relationships, the primordial harmony between the society of men and the spaces of nature.
So much chromatic light and so many happy presences could not reveal a different message.

C. STRANO

The Island. The basso continuo of Etna.

1947. War over. It all starts again. After the destruction there is reconstruction everywhere in Europe. America plasters a few small bones. Sicily has had a preview of the euphoria of liberation.
The plain of Catania has planned the accounts. For everybody: believers and infidels, belligerents, people who have avoided military service and people exonerated. The Sicilian Independence Movement, at the first regional elections of April 20, encounters its first defeats after five years of tireless commitment. One of its hymns, with words and music by a great uncle of mine, but above all my “friend”, Michele Luigi Nicosia, said: “Sicilia cha nati ‘da lu mari ‘balia nu stari chiù di li currenti …” (Sicily swimming in these waters do not be a prey to the currents anymore).
The author kept on singing it even when the first allied bombs destroyed his house in Catania. He was very happy about it and exclaimed: “Biniditta bumma! (Blessed bomb)”.
Currents are like cherries: one draws the other. And they never end: between Scylla, Charybdis and Gibraltar. The true symbol of the latter is not Dantesque: a limit of knowledge etc. etc. But it is this: within this area we understand one another, even without words, with sibilant half-sounds of the mouth. Everything that comes from outside disturbs us. But then: who should come from outside? And where would they find lodgings, the American military base already existing? In art, Sicily had an ensign. In 1941 at the Bergamo Prize Guttuso had exhibited “Crucifixion.” And now there was trench warfare on the front of the wholly Italian conflict between figuration and abstraction. For the latter trend, Consagra and Accardi came to Rome too. Eastern Sicily expressed itself in figurative art with an iceberg, Nunzio Sciavarrello, who had adopted the ideas of the Roman School of Mafai, Scipione and Raphaël. What was to be done by a youth anxious to take up art in a Catania ideally confined inside the bastions of Charles V?
He studied: at the artistic high school (it seems he did not complete the course), and then at a workshop, privately. Painting, decoration, craft, craft, craft. But he lost his father when he was seven years old. And then to his apprenticeship work was added. A new Jack London, he spent his energies in many different directions.
Calogero’s great strength (when his name was still pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, and not in the French manner) was realising the importance of fortifying himself in technique, materials and composition. And in fact, once you dominate these bases of art, you can go where you want, artistically speaking. Calogero became fully aware of this. And he set out not only with his imagination, but also with his legs.
For Paris. Dazzled by Sicilian carts, by popular feasts, by puppets of the Chanson de Roland and by common places, both visual (fish market, “a fera o luni” market), and sonorous (popular jokes), Calogero had another intuition: before giving the imagination free vent and the technical supports learned, it is better to change its domicile. So it was he went to the Académie des Beaux Arts. He learned a bit. But there was no time to lose. It was necessary to be an artist and not a student. Moreover, someone encouraged him, seeing his work. And by chance this someone was called Severini (in the same year, 1947, he recognized that he had “a lot of talent”) and, though we don’t know where, De Pisis did too (October 1952).
Having got to Ville Lumière, Calogero, a man inclined to question himself on himself and on his art, must have asked himself the heavy Leninian question: “What is to be done?” And what were the others doing? A new world advanced, in the capital of art. A symphony (remembering Dvorak) that was polyphonic, ultra-Wagnerian and well beyond the abstract terrain of the Kandinsky-Stravinsky axis. If Antonin Artaud called for Art Brut, between 1947 and 1950 art became linguistically compulsive and obsessed with material and materials. As long ago as 1943 Fautrier had done his Ôtages (hostages), fraught with war memory. Yves Klein was moving towards Judo and the Rosicrucian climate. Vasarely did kinetic, while Dubuffet was brutal. Mathieu introduced some colleagues similar to him in the Abstraction Lyrique exhibition, in the sign of material and gesture. Magnelli persisted with geometric abstraction. Renato Birolli alternated with Calogero in staying in Paris: the latter arrived, the former departed. In 1950 a revolutionary character appeared. His name was strange and so was that of his first staged work: it was Eugène Jonesco with “The bald soprano.”
The impressionist bath. Now, what can penetrate into the avidly curious mind of a youth that has just come to Paris, amid the din provoked by the new, in addition to various versions of surrealism, metaphysics, Dadaism and abstractism? Here is the answer: what everyone was soaked in, drenched in – starting from a long time ago, from not so long ago, from a short time ago. Everywhere you turned, in whatever arrondissement, you breathed in its atmosphere, its consistency, its inconsistency, the glimmers, the tremors, the vibrations of light. Everywhere you turned you dropped into it – whether it was Degas (Calogero lived in the house that had belonged to the impressionist master) or Monet, Manet or Renoir. Either you realized it or you fell victim to it. Without any hope of recovery. There was no alternative: either you reckoned with impressionism or you reckonedwith impressionism.
The situation would have been different if Calogero had arrived with a more up-to-date cultural background – as was the case with Burri. But in an inverse pathway. Calogero went from Catania to Paris, unlike the Umbrian artist, who returned to Rome after various provocations received in the USA. It was not difficult for the sensitive artist from Catania to realise that there was no place for compulsive upheavals in the manner of Pollock or Soulages or Vedova or Burri or Fontana. French impressionism, in spite of the time that had gone by (over 60 years), in spite of attacks by later movements, though it no longer appeared like a deviant tendency, had not in any case lost its sheen at the level of the compilatory inventive, of imaginative synthesis (more alluded to than stated), at the level, also, of a certain coquetry, as De Saussure would put it, in the “langue” (the general lexicon) and in the “parole” (the connotation realized by the artist). Les jeux ne sont pas encore faits, one could say, parodying the croupiers expression. The games are still open: precisely on the terrain of impressionism. If we did not know the painting “Café aux Folies Bergères”, we would be induced to say that we have discovered an unknown Manet.
Of impressionism Monsieur Calogero, now Jean, has metabolized every drive, regarding both content and language. As for the humble subject, no effort. The artist himself remembered that, as a boy, he gladly hid in the attic of the house: a store of disused and old objects, a smell of mould and the past, odours of things outside time, as is recounted in an old song nostalgically intoned at the “Old boot” that brings so many memories back to life (I learned it, as a child, at Camogli). There, by his own admission, Calogero took refuge, escaping from daily and eternal reality: that of contrarieties, of misunderstandings, of struggles in society, of big anguishing and sad thoughts. And here is the artist’s outfit: dolls, toys and perfumes, umbrellas, still-lifes, manikins, carnival costumes, masks, birdcages, masks, and every figural stylization (above all female subjects) and every landscape or seascape situation provoked by these objects.
In these objects there is Calogero’s iconological leitmotif. Another iconological situation is provided by urbanistic and architectural glimpses on a realistic basis. A third piece of iconological baggage is linked to the mythological or epic story.
Now we have to try to understand better Calogero’s poetic approach to these iconological themes.
At the Circus, 1948 (54 x 73 cm). The interweaving of the colours (a rich and bright palette) is the protagonist, with the exception of the small clown in the foreground to the left. If we exclude the collar (a flaked and frayed red), for the rest every other element represented is rich in details of a realistic kind: a hat, also red, a blue smock with red-black buttons, brown hair. Calogero has dressed an expressionless face, a lost fixed gaze, soulless. A stereotyped face to which the bright red of the lips does not give (and is not meant to give) character or meaning.
Calogero’s laboratory soon proves to be full of surprises, rocambolesque, capricious in a mischievous but authentic way in its disarming truth. These first alembics produce the fusion between impressionist “touch painting” and a poetic and compositional trait that recovers the Picassian blue period: regarding colour, subject and general atmosphere.
The luminist colours of the characters (almost blows of light) are consolidated, in the manner of Cézanne of Montagne Sainte-Victoire (but still of the Card Players) in polychromatic and lumpy solidity of the Nude (also hinting a little at Renoir) in 1949. Waldemar George was right in 1956: together with Maximilien Gauthier he made the first and perhaps the only true contributions to research on Calogero.
He mentioned “tachisme”, the taste for the informal stain: a piece of updating that the artist would never have received in Catania. But one has to think that it is not by chance that the painting has the same birth date as the École de la Réalité, created by the artist Henri Cadiou: the canvases live an interdependent life through the strength of the timbre value, red, red striped with black and green with red stains. The complexion is itchy, with coloured shades, in accordance with impressionist experience. The die is cast: no echo of Arabicizing Mediterranean-ness. Calogero enters into the European atmosphere typical of the Parisian context with limited fauve mediation. Interest in this leaning towards “réalité” was short-lived. It allowed few dreams, left no room for imagination and even less for fantasy.
In the general economy of Calogero’s work, the surrealist terrain seems to have got the better of the impressionist influence. If this can be said on the poetic plane (but with major reserves that we are going to state), it does not apply on the plane of language and chromatic interweaving. In relation to the latter observations, the impressionist lesson, mixed with rapid hints at “stain” (tache; but, unlike Waldemar George, I would exclude reference to the Macchiaioli, who did not affect Calogero at all) remains a constant, though as a background leitmotif.
Calogero a surrealist? It is easy to say it, but difficult to believe it. To drop a big harnessed white horse ridden by a ridermanikin, and an amorphous one, in a landscape, for instance in a lagoon context with nineteenth-century women with parasols, not without the insistent cages scattered here and there is an undertaking worthy of Ariosto – also on account of the temporal superimpositions. But the surrealist option insists, as Breton said very clearly, on pure psychic automatism, that is to say on a highly oneiric state. It is not enough for the imagination to go wild, what can prove impossible is not sufficient.
An incursion into depth psychology is needed. That is to say an attitude (a “desire for art”, Riegl would say) that is highly introspective, spontaneous in its madness. We would give less credit to Dali if we were not also touched by his performative life. In this respect, Calogero is too Mediterranean, sunny and sunlit to be a true but belated surrealist. It takes a behavioural attitude accompanying art to be an authentic surrealist. The famous expression by Lautréamont about “the chance meeting between a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table” needs to be decadently extended to the whole character. Leonardo Sciascia, in presenting Calogero’s work at the Robinia exhibition in Palermo (1969) by and large intuited this deception, though he limited himself to saying that it was surrealism done by a Sicilian – that is to say, not really surrealism. The puppet theatre, carnival, mythology and the circus save Calogero from the omnivorous claws of Dali. The important thing is to know these claws: enough to keep away from them, and also not to be a surrealist forgery, and to continue to be a Sicilian enriched by a broad vision. Calogero had a strong and indefeasible claim: the right to dream – to daydream: a true escape, precisely in the manner of Ariosto, that is to say one such as to render paradoxical the reality from which one starts. The surrealist is a prisoner that dreams of escaping, and for this purpose broods on his own unconscious. Calogero is a free man that dreams of escaping with full awareness and full control of his own emotional states. Like the puppeteer that moves the threads, and in the meanwhile works and enjoys himself, he participates in the game.
There is a single game condition, in which all are actors: the puppets, the wires, the voice, the music, the puppeteer himself. Calogero, having a strong sense of stage, was probably aware of the principle of the super-marionette introduced by a great figure of contemporary staging, Gordon Craig. The puppeteer Calogero, transformed into a mainland man, was a super-marionette.
And let me dream (play) as I want to, do not give me programmatic rules. This does not rule out the fact that on his arrival in Paris he must have seen a famous exhibition. At the Maeght gallery, Breton and Duchamp presented an exhibition summing up international surrealism. Calogero’s great curiosity must have been affected by it. But we must not forget what the artist had to say, in 1957, to François Christian Toussaint: that “colour is not seen, but felt.”
In this case, feeling the colour is incompatible with the specious lucubration of pure psychic automatism – so much so that, if we want to find support for this expression, it is worth thinking about someone who did not go in for lucubration, though being an exponent of surrealism. I refer to André Masson.
But here attention would move into the sphere of chance. And Calogero is as distant from the latter as his soul is from this world. Why not respect the integral inclination, a vitalistic one, to blend game and dream? This is not an antiseptic coupling, but on the contrary one animated by the ghosts of his own spirituality, his own culture, his own traditions. All solar? All solar. Calogero is not a canonical chef, he does not respect Artusi’s manual. His appetites or his greediness are convinced and convincing. The ingredients are those suggested by these appetites. The dosing likewise. How much Metaphysics is there? How much of Arcimboldi? How much of Pier della Francesca mediated by Seurat? How much of Magnasco or Canaletto? How much of the Baroque? In Paris there was a weighty character, not only physically speaking. He made a big contribution to modernization. Calogero would probably not have gone ahead fruitfully with his project of originality, without the chromatic “cooling”, formal, arranging (winking at cloisonnisme) deriving from Fernand Léger.
When this influence took over, Calogero’s imagination took on the flavour of the future. And the urbanistic sections and the landscapes were attacked by the arch-paint of the famous and forgotten Pier Lambicchi. And everything was animated, as if by enchantment. It came alive with new life. Like Piazza Navona. I imagine how much interest would be aroused in Bob Wilson if he came upon Calogero’s works! It must be said that a similar laboratory of the unlikely (where Ionesco appears, not so much because of absurdity as because of the paradoxical) has no opening days or times. When timelessness is practised, either you are always closed or you are always open. The alchemist Calogero proves to be a very skilled, original and captivating mannerist that among his test-tubes does not have that of chance. His laboratory has always been active. Like the ill-concealed existentialist undercurrent that serves as a basso continuo, even when it is not heard. As happens with Etna.
Some speak of an affective need, regarding his return to Catania. I am inclined to think that Calogero, commercially successful (also in the USA, Japan and South America) but not very much affected by this aspect, had got all he could get from what was now the former Ville Lumière. Besides, new avantgarde waves were arising to stun his para-oneiric peregrinations.
His expressive modes had been nurtured on internationality, but his dreamy way of expressing himself had maintained its roots at Aci Castello, in the places of Homer. He had felt a strong impulse to set out for Paris, and now he felt a strong impulse to return to Catania. In 1982 in Catania he did an exhibition mwith a significant title in this respect, “Lights and dreams of my earth.”
At the start of the catalogue he wrote: “I have returned to grab handfuls of light and dreams…From Paris, where I lived for decades and where I still have my studio, my works have gone all over the continents and I with them. But nostalgia for this land of mine was a patina for the eyes and sadness in my heart.” From this state of mind and from the nature of his poetic one could certainly not expect radical changes – unless a raptus had led him to conceive a totally type of different art. But nature has to be respected. The consequence is that from hi return home Calogero, technically highly skilled, became an enjoyer of himself, plunging into full enjoyment of his timeless dimension.

Catania, 30 June 2010

P. Giansiracusa “When I paint, I get in front of the canvas and it is as if I shut myself up in a crystal bubble. A journey through the imagination starts and I don’t know where it will take me...”

C. Strano "1947. War over. It all starts again. After the destruction there is reconstruction everywhere in Europe. America plasters a few small bones. Sicily has had a preview of the euphoria of liberation."