top of page


Towards the immediate.

For some time now, Franco Beraldo's paintings have been meeting with increasing success, an ever-widening favour that goes beyond the circle of experts to draw on a truly popular appreciation.

His work also boasts a vast critical literature that has variously highlighted above all the executive refinement and lyrical qualities of his works.

I believe, however, that it is precisely by researching the reasons for this reception that we can perhaps attempt to formulate further interpretative hypotheses.

It should not be forgotten, for example, that Beraldo's painting was born and developed in the years following the almost universal triumph of Pop Art, which took and re-proposed incisive and emblematic images taken mainly from the world of mass media, new and increasingly widespread technologies, advertising and information.

This is one of the most significant signs of a radical change in the way things and people are, a clear sign that the very perception of reality is no longer direct, but now passes through ever new intrusions, new mediations.

"As far as "interiors, still lifes and figures" can still exist," Walter Guadagnini recently wrote in reconsidering the variegated experiences of Italian Pop Art, "this way of dealing with painting", after having been largely "...put to death by the historical avant-gardes", underwent a definitive transformation from the early 1960s onwards: even if, for example, "... a landscape painting continues to exist", in reality the theme is no longer simply the landscape, but "... the perception of it in contemporary times, its very definability in comparison with a growing presence of man" and, in particular, "of his artifices within it", so that it happens that "... the landscape today is always seen through a filter: not only an intellectual filter , but an authentic technological filter, that of the camera ...", it follows, Guadagnini concludes that "...the landscape is, depending on the cases and the will", always "either framed or reproduced. "

"Framing, screen, photography, cinema", then, become the fundamental terms of the new representative language, while the conception of landscape as "...mirror of the human soul", appears definitively set aside.

Nature is no longer considered in its extension and totality, the images inspired by it no longer refer to its universality, indeed nature is no longer even the theme, but rather natures which, "... fragmented, are never whole, they are fragments", fragments, "... frames in fact". (1)

It is from these assumptions that, in my opinion, Beraldo's reflection begins. With great acuity, he was able to point out how not only the new mass media and technological iconographies, but also the modes of reception of traditional Art could be part of the universe of popular imagination.

In fact, it is probably not irrelevant to underline the fact that the general public often reads, for example, the works of Giorgio Morandi outside of his very acute analysis of the instruments and models of vision, and even less does it consider the problem of the "colour of position", understood, according to the splendid words of Cesare Brandi (2) as the capacity to confer on the same chromatic or luminous note completely different values according to its dislocation in the syntax of the painting, as well, of Virgilio Guidi's paintings, the foundations of his universal luminous ontology will probably not be explored, or of Carlo Carrà's Art, the aspects relating to the search for the original sources of a national plastic-expressive language will not be investigated, while, respectively, the serenity of a cosmos considered familiar, or the apparent simplicity beyond all drama or, again, an outwardly firm, dreamy and natural composure and tranquillity may appear more easily attractive.

These different modes of reception are also supported by the creation, over the years, of new organisational supports and by the creation of a real artistic tourism for Contemporary Art, characterised by the multiplication of all-inclusive exhibition events: obviously guided tours, brochures or catalogues, catering, gadgets, merchandising and so on.

With respect to this world, Beraldo does not choose the path of protest, opposition, irony or mockery, but rather that of a sort of vague idea of the possibility of bringing out a popular culture that is in some way harmonious.

At the end of the day, the fact that the so-called ordinary people have the possibility of having a painting in their home, of cultivating aesthetic needs, having overcome the most pressing needs, the non-delayable responses to the urgency of primary needs, despite all the cries of the so-called intellectuals, is still something positive.

In any case, with great capacity for understanding, Beraldo has pointed out how not only the new iconographies of massified information have entered the firmament of the popular imagination.

It is precisely the new public, which has become accustomed to the new means of communication, that could, in fact, yearn with particular intensity for universes with different characteristics, for a stable and cultured image, for a determined, fixed, unitary atmosphere and for this reason perhaps in some way reassuring, while vice versa the mass media image can appear extremely elusive, fragmented, highly indeterminate and sometimes even interchangeable.

It is perhaps by reflecting on this contrast that Beraldo understands how a work deliberately constructed and founded on a coherence and continuity of perceptions and emotions can then seem extremely desirable.

Beyond its apparent simplicity, Beraldo's way of working seems to be the result of a complex interweaving of relationships and connections: his creativity is not only exercised on icons, but on the very mechanisms of contemporary communication, within which he is able to underline the fact that there is not only a desire for the new, the unprecedented, but also, on the contrary, a desire for the acquired, the certain, the known, the at least apparently familiar.

In any case, his Landscapes, his Still lifes, are never the result of a direct sensation, being based instead on a kind of pre-text identified in the different modes and qualities of image present above all in an artistic season, by now firmly recognised and yet not so distant as to be completely incomprehensible or alien, such as that gravitating around the so-called Novecento Italiano.

Having identified such a linguistic and cultural foundation in a broad sense, Beraldo disarticulates its modes and aspects into a lexicon that he then recomposes into new images that are only apparently original.

Even if it happens that some people sometimes even believe they recognise the places and landscapes in some of his paintings, they are in fact the result of a purely mental and pictorial composition.

The ultramarine blue of the Mediterranean waters, the dazzling white of his coasts, the greens and browns of the shady pine foliage that populate his landscapes, the "...chastened, geometrically essential" (3) silhouettes of his still lifes, the rarefied spatiality in which these two fundamental themes often seem to reach a refined fusion, in reality propose pure images whose "...form ... represents" yes "a reference to reality, but does not interpret anything other than an illusion, a mental projection, a dream." (4)

In many ways, by mythologising itself, high culture continues to survive and even to win at the popular level.

Within this horizon, the particular pictorial formulation given to the different images obviously acquires a fundamental importance, as emerges from the great consideration given by Beraldo to the different artistic techniques: each of which in itself evokes particular worlds of fantasy.

In this regard, his special relationship with fresco painting is particularly significant: It is probably no coincidence that, in this area, his paintings, instead of emphasising, as happens for example with his mature Saetti (a master to whom, in various aspects, Beraldo sometimes seems to refer), the consistency of the materials, to the point of being affected, in some way, by the variegated universe of informal poetics, have, on the contrary, gradually become inspired by the impalpable whiteness, by the dry and smooth surfaces of fifteenth-century frescoes, better suited to rendering "... not landscapes and objects, but the softness of the landscape...". not landscapes and objects, but the breath of them, identified in an ideal atmosphere dominated by a languid but vivid grace...". (5)

The world proposed by these works of Beraldo's is detached, out of time, the result of a work on language of a "citationist and anachronistic" (6) kind from which the author himself seemed, in some ways, to voluntarily exclude himself.

"I'm not interested in putting my biography into the painting, I have to put myself aside in front of the painting," Beraldo explained, reiterating: "My feelings are personal and should not be of interest to others. The viewer, on the other hand, can also interpret what he sees with his own feelings". (7)

(7) And yet such a way of working, such a delimited and secure universe in which problematic points, risks, contradictions and conflicts now seem to have been overcome, has, on the threshold of the new century, begun to be eroded, to be in some way questioned.

In fact, in his most recent works, the very integrity of the figures seems at times to have been compromised, while the images begin to break up into a continuous overlapping of planes and sign emergencies that can no longer be traced back to a certain, recognisable referentiality.

The unity of the image seems to multiply in a series of differently co-presented moments, while the representative illusionism now gives way to the empirical two-dimensionality of the surface, on which the colours, with their surfacing, spreading or darkening, create new and different allusions of space.

The range of colours also undergoes a significant transformation: the whites, greens and earths - the tones of presence, of the here and now, of reference to a possible nature - seem to be overwhelmed by the advance and spread of brighter colours.

The serene clarity of the blues seems to overheat, flowing into excited symphonies of pink, fuchsia, magenta and crimson, purple and carmine, sometimes counterpointed here and there by the lower tones of amaranth and violet: the colours of the soul, of desire and of the heart which, in a continuous insinuation of subtle centrifugal and centripetal energies, are conquering the surface, perhaps to overshadow further elusive knowledge, in a mysterious, spiritual rubedo, capable of transcending, in broader and deeper correspondences, the apparent evidence of the exteriority of things and their envelopes.

Perhaps, in his works, Beraldo now takes into account the fact that even a non-referential painting, generically defined as Informal, has by now widely entered the popular way of feeling, but more probably, beyond any linguistic screen, the desire for a more conscious, more transparent and accomplished involvement is surfacing in him, the aspiration to an increasingly free and mobile balance of the elements, beyond any naturalistic delimitation, or any abstract division or metaphysical hierarchy.

It is no coincidence that in his most recent works every line of the horizon often becomes imperceptible or even disappears.

A new generosity, a new ability to accept to put himself more fully in the game in the first person, a new knowledge open to the inner perception of ultra-sensitive realities now seems to govern the painter's creativity, now able to give space to more direct and springy expressions for which it no longer seems necessary to resort to images that are in a certain sense predetermined.

Towards the immediate: this seems to be the direction taken by Beraldo, even though he is aware of the perhaps oxymoronic nature of this expression.

Indeed, perhaps one can only be surprised by immediacy. Dino Marangon

------ Note 1. Da W. GUADAGNINI, Natura e artificio, nel catalogo della mostra, Pop Art Italia 1958 – 1968, a cura di W. GUADAGNINI, Galleria Civica di Modena 17 aprile – 3 giugno 2005, p. 149. 2. Vedi C. BRANDI, Poscritto – 1952, a, Cammino di Morandi, ora in C. BRANDI, Scritti sull’Arte, Torino 1976, p.36. 3. Così lo stesso Beraldo, in una conversazione con Paolo Levi. (Vedi, La dimensione metafisica dell’affresco. Colloquio tra Franco Beraldo e Paolo Levi, in, Franco Beraldo, Torino 2001, p. 11.) 4. Da S. ARFELLI, Dove si nascondono gli Dei, nel catalogo della personale di, Franco Beraldo, presso la Galleria d’Arte Nuovo Segno, Forlì 2002, pp. 12 – 14. 5. Da S. ZANELLA, nel catalogo della mostra, Franco Beraldo. Mostra Antologica. 25 anni di Pittura 1976 – 1991, Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Gallarate 1992. 6. Ivi. 7. Da, La dimensione metafisica dell’affresco. Colloquio tra Franco Beraldo e Paolo Levi, cit. p. 11.


bottom of page