4 ottobre 2007
Renzo Bergamo " The Man and the Artist "
Andrea Bisicchia

I met Renzo Bergamo back in the ‘70s, a time when I was experiencing the multidisciplinarity of the various arts. Though theater was my first calling, I didn’t see it as literature but as a scenographic language, the ephemeral locus of the creative dimension. I was and remain convinced that there can be no language of the text if it does not become the autonomous, specialized language of the stage. With Renzo, before talking about painting I talked about space, and he understood, observing that painting is nothing other than the ‘de-composition’ of space, a bit like the theater. At the time I was enamored of Palazzeschi, I read and reread Perelà uomo di fumo. These were the years following the revolution of ’68, when imagination reigned, and Perelà compelled me toward these dreams, since I too wanted imagination to rule. When I saw Renzo for the first time and heard him speak, I recognized the gestures of a storyteller, a trait common to many natives of the Veneto, and I realized that sitting before me was a Perelà, not a man of smoke, but a man of air. When Renzo spoke or painted, there was something light, delicate and gentle about him, which is not to say that he wasn’t rigorous when talking about art, theater, philosophy or science. His library had a bit of everything, with a preference for philosophers and scientists like Schopenhauer, Ilya Prigogine and Einstein, whom he genuinely revered. During the years of our acquaintance, he told me about his encounters with Comisso and their prolific correspondence, as well as encounters with Strehler. He would read the early drafts of Comisso’s novels, and sit in on the rehearsals of the master of the Piccolo Teatro. His interests, while focused on his love of drawing and painting, ranged widely, almost voraciously, because Renzo had an insatiable desire to know other forms of artistic communication, which he invariably saw from a figural perspective. During the ‘70s, I invited him to a series of meetings with other Milanese artists who, like him, had known Fontana, Dova, Crippa. Looking closely at their paintings, we saw something that went beyond Spatialism and invented the Astrarte movement, which is to say an art that addressed the cosmos. Together, we wrote a series of manifestos which I collected in the volume Futurismo-Spazialismo-Astrarte, which explained the movement’s interest in the quest for a new cosmology, a different relationship with heavenly bodies and with cosmic energy, a way to connect them with the energy of thought and emotions. What was most interesting for Renzo Bergamo, who adhered to the movement with all the strength of his independence, was geophysical chaos, the eagerness to make painting and science coexist. In those years Renzo would compose astral concepts and spaces in motion on his canvases, which he considered the result of certain artistic experiences dating back to the ‘60s, when he had gone to America and explored a certain kind of cosmic painting, characterized by dynamic vibrations that combined the esthetics of nuclear physics with the poetics of the M.A.C. I sensed in Renzo’s paintings an intellectual component increasingly inspired by science; the globes and curves, the motion of the forms, the concept of dynamism itself were all geared toward a representation that started from the microcosm and expanded into the macrocosm, which was a very personal reading of the Astro and the Cosmo as we had theorized them. Renzo conveyed all of this with the language of art, with what I consider his greatest quality, which is his sense of harmonic synthesis, because the painting of Renzo Bergamo is, in the end, essentially harmonic and musical. His heavenly bodies, his ‘de-compositions’, his ‘lines of force’, his spatial energy and thought are the result of his creative intuition. Those who look at his paintings cannot but be reminded of Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, Invisible Cities and t zero, three works that explore a different relationship between humankind and the universe, and which lay the foundation for a more intense rapport between creativity and science. Epistemologically speaking, Bergamo investigated science, the soul and the cosmos not for intellectual stimuli but for artistic ones, for he did not believe that theories could facilitate painterly enquiry. At the time of the writing of the Astarte manifestos, he did not hide certain misgivings. He told me, “I love physics, which is the science of atoms, but you must acknowledge that there are ontological criteria for addressing the problems of the philosophy of science, but certainly not those of figural language, which is pluralistic even if it delegates its questions and answers to the imagination”.
Renzo Bergamo, a man not of smoke but of air, whose lightness of spirit was selfsame as his art.