Visible Traces of Existence

“…does it matter? It’s the minimal part of

everyone and splendid is the poem”

Mario Luzi

From “Earthly and heavenly’s travel” By Simone Martini

The paintings by Damiano Durante here displayed induce the most overwhelming need to define the figurative and technical experience of the author, our memories produce the visions of a figurative “tout court” to which our eye are no longer accustomed.

And since we are all apt to give in to temptation, we and by yielding to the seductive delusion which allures us to conclude that Durante is truly a symbolistic painter. Others are deceived by the evident realism which represent the world in a photographic way: Durante is a new master  of  realistic naturalism, even a hyperrealist without a doubt!

The argument of this sensation could reach a certain daring in still life with identification of our young master; of evident traces of a lower world, night, time, darkness; that which reveals the subconscience so dear to a surrealists…

The feelings we experience when finding ourselves before a painting by Damiano Durante are interesting and captivating. In my opinion nothing can compare with the logic of sight and the new ontology of vision that immerges from his paintings, and removes all his figurative works from any possible definition.

We do however, comprehend his experience in historical European figurative tradition. His paintings suggest a “return to wordly things” (Husserl), in that world in which the conscience  and painting always speak with their respective languages​​, as well as the painting reflect the same language , just a geography speaks of territories. A painting, for Durante, is the means by which one reaches the experience of being. Either by magic or by devine visitation, one unravels a trail of analogies; symbolic and interior references which resurface in various forms. These may takes the form of a glass, a bottle, a lit candle, a musical instrument, a plant or an anatomical detail, of face, a expression, a flower, a jet of water, a fragment of a statue, or a table rather than a chair, all these are elements of reality which the artist use to reveal hidden mysteries, secret souls, and the ties which bind them to us.

Durante’s paintings are certainly “disturbing” in their distinct forms, they require equally distinct and conscious thought along with a strong sense of estrangement one can feel in viewing his works; one can almost hear the words of Isidore Ducasse, that Count of Lautremont who defined the experience of beauty as the result of “a meeting between an umbrella and a sewing machine on an operating table”, but the final result of a Durante painting is very different from the surreal as it is from the metaphysical.

In his painting the unity between subject and object can be found also in contemporary philosophy, where our eyes bring to light the experience of our actual being, in unity between ourselves and things of the world. And so Still Lives produces new life, and the objects portrayed reflect penetrating messages. A “human dimension of vision” is reached (Merleau-Ponty) all that I see with my eyes is alive in my experience, which is, at the same time individual and collective, and forever experience recognizable. In fact in these paintings things and action are present which are often missing in contemporary art.

Durante is aided by an extraordinary technique and an intimate knowledge of his paintings subject. He uses his technique like a privileged instrument to analyse the reality of the most secret and more evident aspect of his works. By using objects of reality he is searching for new poetic and lyrical effects which  can move us.

These clear images evoke a profound sense of mystery and infinity, which recall the great film of Kieslowski, the trilogy “the three colours”.

But the mystery so evoked by his painting becomes sudden enlightenment, as St. Giovanni Damasceno said –  it is not a simple reproduction of reality but is a question of the mystery of the image  and interior reality, which becomes a living the experience for one and all; the miracle of existence.

Only in this way does the artistic reflection of Damiano Durante become clear. It does not dwell on an imitative aspect of still life, but goes much further. He is forever investigating the fine connection between reality and his painted image, from the world in which we live to our representations, from actual things to the forms painted of things.

It is not so much  the image created to conform to the model, but the model to conform to the image. It is not the replica of somethings, but a source of new life which thinks, lives, breaths, loves…

Alfonso Di Muro