Once upon a time, children were told stories on a rainy day to keep them quiet And the more those stories were full or fairies, ogres or magic caskets which contained their heart's desire or could make their dreams come true, the more jealously they guarded them in their hearts like fragile crystals wrapped in protective clouds, sheltered from any danger that might threaten them, from any echo that might interrupt, even for a moment, the sweet symphony of everlasting sleep.
Today time has stretched out into long roads and those children have become adults by means of other stories, quite different from the ones they heard as children, brimming with other visions and other sounds, written and told with such speed that the message was impossible to pursue, with such ferocious violence that nothing could hide, with echoes so pounding as to destroy any sleep or dreams.
Yesterday's child has become today's adult and such a predictable, mundane statement might be the subject of one of the numerous sociological studies with which scientists and scholars interpret modern society.
The purpose of this brief essay is to seek in Walter Girotto's work links with the evolution and transformation of modern society, as unalike from a figurative point of view as they are alike from an intellectual one.
Thus we can leaf through his paintings like the pages of a book whose sequence is not made up of numbers, but of time.
The references that we can read between the lines on browsing through his works are many: from Pre-Raphaelism through symbolism and Austrian secessionism right up to an extremely sensitive rereading of pop-art. However, these references are merely a pretext. His dynamism makes him, almost ironically , a strange Fantasy character, a post-Lord of the Rings who becomes a child again but then, transformed into a man, finds himself running down blazing roads, walking through lands where the word, which has become a form, has transformed into disenchanted irony.
We can perceive this path better by "digging" into his pictures. I use this term rather than the more usual "entering the picture" because what Girotto proposes has to literally be dug out. Ours is almost a break-in, an intuitive search below the surface of his painting.
Thus, after more closely examining/delving into a detail that had escaped us, we see appearing before us a play of light, a metamorphosis, an object which strikes us like an arrow, not wounding us but enriching us with new stimuli, with hereto unknown enthusiasm.
And the images pass by like film stars, here in the guise of Mary, the protagonist of the painting "Mary doesn't live any more here", a complex work in which the crude symbolism overturns the principles of classic iconography by means of a play of mirrors/reflections and image overlays which would certainly have pleased Hitchcock; now in the shape of Everyman's invitation in "Welcome", where events and characters confront each other in a game in which ambiguity bares "vices and virtues of the human adventure" as the artist goliardically states; or in "In the last resort" where the Michelangelian reference enhances this great work in which the final moment, the complexity and frailty of life, are experienced in all their drama.
Other aspects of Girotto's painting, of his marvellous fairy tale, which deserve to be highlighted are its eroticism and aesthetic value.
As far as regards the former, its perception through images charged with a symbolism that represents woman in the dualism of sacredness/pleasure or the more complex one in which she appears surrounded by armour, covered in a veil which allows a mischievous breast to show through, is enriched with a wealth of details which recall renaissance references, psychological games in which the power of the object, the provocation of a gaze are contrasted with beauty and desire. When the eroticism then becomes a game, a metaphor for humanity imprisoned by
reckless consumerism, recognisable in the beautiful girl with an apple in her hands and her breasts bared to the wind, we can not fail to experience a sensation of lightness, of satisfying freedom.
The nude and provocation are never used to grab attention or enhance the scene; they are mental perceptions which the artist offers us as if he were offering a bouquet of flowers to an elderly lady. A gesture that we grasp and hold within us, freeing it in our thoughts like a fragment of a dream, like an illusion of existence.
Other paintings lead to light, to fade, which seem to take us by the hand and lead us through mazes charged with fascinating mystery. This is a less conspicuous, more technical aspect, but certainly brimming with sensations that touch on the transcendental, which lead to pure reflection, to full aesthetic enjoyment.
This is the case of some portrayals in which dance/music, the suggestive movements of the dancers against backgrounds enriched with frayed drapery, gradually leave behind the symbolism Girotto used in the 8os. However, this process is not traumatic. On the contrary, in works where the subject is static, almost a pretext to highlight the play of light and fade which paradoxically might lead to abstraction, an essentiality emerges which makes the slightest transparency, the smallest sign or a delicate movement an essential, formative element for the completeness of the work itself.
It is, in short, the key to aesthetic enjoyment, a source of reflection for an image which becomes a flight.
And it's a flight which projects us into Girotto's stories, similar to fairy tales children were told on rainy days. Whether they be stories intertwined in fairy-tale scenarios or whether the symbol and the legend take on a clearly defined human form, we constantly feel enveloped in the magic kaleidoscope that is his art, with his suitcase full of wisdom and anxiety, but above all brimming with stimulating irony, a sense of beauty, of perfect execution which make it the bearer of metaphors and parables on life.