Enzo Cucchi (b. 1950)
Paesaggio Barbaro
oil on canvas
51 x 62¾ in. (129.5 x 159.4 cm.)
Painted in 1983.
Sperone Westwater, New York
G. Politi and H. Kontova, eds., Flash Art: Two Decades of History, XXI Years, New York, 1989, p. 105 (illustrated).
New York, Sperone Westwater, Enzo Cucchi, March 1983.
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Enzo Cucchi, 1986, p. 61 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

Steeped in mystery and born of an occult spirituality, Barbarian Landscape draws from the pagan past and speaks to our modern anxieties. Enzo Cucchi cites influences as far reaching as Giotto and the Middle Ages, and as near as the Dada movement. Whichever aesthetic he summons from the past, however, he points towards the universal. "His work embraces a culture in which tradition, custom and taste are bonded to the very fabric of everyday life." (D. Waldman, Enzo Cucchi, New York, 1986, p. 17).

Barbarian Landscape is stripped of narrative and reduced to the essential, primordial elements of articulation. The work surpasses imitation, approaching that of a dark prophet. "Cucchi is the painter as seer, demon and saint, possessor and possessed, he is at once the creator and subject of his tale. He is the painter as mad visionary, participant in and witness to the nether world from which one can emerge after a ritual of fire and purification, to the realm of the sublime." (ibid, p. 27)

Cucchi's contribution to the neo-expressionist movement is clear in his violent, bravado brushstrokes, while the symbols of death and life-forces merge emotional expression with a pointed emphasis on communication, charging the work with a sense of urgency. An extremely limited palette, a strikingly high horizon line, and a disturbing perspectival distortion contribute to the devastation of Cucchi's novel wasteland.

Barbarian Landscape is not a depiction of our world, yet at the same time it is not beyond our recognition. "This is a realm of unrelenting blackness; yet the utter torment of the vision provides a catharsis, cleansing and purifying by acknowledging the existence of the forces of evil." (ibid, p. 24).

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