LUCE AND SPHERES
One of Antonio Ciccone’s most recent works dedicated to the theme of “Cats” won first prize at the annual Gattart exhibition held in Florence and organized by the Fiora Leone Foundation. This year the show, in its 19th edition, was held in the prestigious Sala Brunelleschi at the Palagio di Parte Guelfa.
The Cat, as subject matter did not become prominent in Antonio Ciccone’s art until 1987.
One morning in March 1987, a large package wrapped in brown paper was placed on my mother’s chair at breakfast – generally customary for birthdays in our family. “What would this drawing be of?” we asked ourselves…we always knew by the shape that the gift in question was an art work. Linda unwrapped her precious present. “Papi, I can’t believe it! How beautiful!” Kisses and hugs followed the solemn reading of the dedication:
“To Linda, with love, Antonio.”
The drawing was magnificent. Ciccone’s deft strokes capture Linda resting peacefully with her precious kitten “Munchie” curled luxuriously around her neck, a living fur scarf – guardian of her human parent. To the right, another image portrays two kittens curled together – Munchie and her “ginger cat” brother Simba. To the left in the drawing, an orange globe of warmth is sentinel to the scene – see pages 88-89 in Antonio Ciccone, Gatti/Cats.
Cats worked their way into Ciccone’s art by first establishing themselves in the Ciccone household. They took their place alongside other family members, including birds, and in turn, became subjects of the maestro’s careful observation.
In his Gatti/Cats book, five cats-become-models interrelate and rollick in and out and across one hundred pen and ink drawings. The artist’s watchful eye captures the cat family’s daily activities from instinctive hunting practice to effortless grande jetés across the cozy Florentine salotto! They play-fight, reflect, and are depicted curled up with Linda as she reads, occasionally sprawled lazily across her stomach. The Ciccone children are represented in charming line drawings posed holding or playing with a particular cat.
Kittens are portrayed stretched out on the floor, paws reaching beneath furniture; posing on the sofa, or sitting quietly contemplating the Florentine cityscape out the window.
There are other elements that render this collection fascinating – for example it is intriguing when one becomes aware of what holds the rapt attention of Ciccone’s feline subjects – cats in couples gaze in utter amazement at firey planets, others study an opening created by four distinct lines etched on chalk-white paper walls. The scenarios made up of these inquisitive cats are enriched by metaphysical geometric elements – spheres are planets, suns, and moons, some crescent. Triangles of various sizes compose windows, doorways, rooms. Some compositions resemble a sort of complex origami that unfolds revealing what appear to be hidden seas and ancestral Egyptian pyramids. In some scenes one cat will be fully immersed in this wonderland while another will be concentrated in observing us, the viewers.
Gatti returns to capture us with masterfully executed charcoal renditions. Here the artist’s desire is to work the cats’ rich coats to the fullest – only the fact that the image is a drawing restrains our longing to caress and feel the silky softness of the fur. Luce, an enchanting tiger striped kitten reminiscent of her beloved Munchie and rescued by Linda in dire straits, is the latest addition to the artist’s ménage. Luce’s large dynamic charcoal/pastel portraits number four at this writing (and include Ciccones’ recent fascinating prize-winning drawing Luce e Sfere).
‘Luce’ means light and light is a key element in all of Antonio Ciccone’s work – witness
the light pouring from his most recent frescoes … and that, friends, is to be the subject of our next newsletter!