ELENA GOLLINI - art curator and journalist
Alessio Serpetti’s paintings reveal the will of an anachronistical rediscovering of visions whose sources come from far away, from the Mannerists of the 1500s to the latest Surrealists, including Klinger, Poussin, Sebastiano Del Piombo, Dürer, Burne-Jones. Such visions are integrated and enriched by a series of allegories, metaphors and symbols reinterpreted with inventiveness in a personal tone. Every scene of classical origin is helpful to Serpetti to recall and depict a kind of theatrical scenery, as if the pictorial surface were a choreographic stage. He puts on a show in which he underlines the gestures of the figures he portrays, the suggestive backlights, the fabulous and legendary gorges of narration , the intriguing mystery of his paint brush when it portrays feminine features in a magical allure with the greatest emphasis.
With trepidation Serpetti broadens in his compositions dressed with allegorical and mystical symbols, like a neophyte observing an ancient ritual of imagination or a mortal who meets for the first time the enchanted world of divinities. He enters his works and takes their most powerful and engaging appeal to share it with the observer. He works with a flawless technique, like a painter of an ancient tradition, with a meticulous and elegant touch, with the scrupulous attention of an artist who wants to represent even the smallest narrative details and to emphasise his spectacular visions. In his paintings he rediscovers the iconography of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, symbolic archetypes and forgotten mythology in what seems to be a virtual reproduction of an endless journey into the night, a fall in a submerged and hidden world where the creatures and the divinities who inhabit and animate our dreams live.
In his paintings the female figures, often the real protagonists in the scenario, are seductive, attractive, enigmatic, intriguing, disquieting, enveloped in esoteric and archaic symbols belonging to the earth and to the night. Serpetti proposes a kind of meaningful art filled with subliminal messages of an allegorical origin deriving from strong historical roots: it is so delicate and emotional that, like a blooming plant, it needs constant and caring attention in order to blossom in its sparkling splendour. By means of the habitual instruments of painting, materials first of all, there is an evocative sublimation: the imagine loses its characteristics of “fragment and chronicle of Reality” and becomes something different from the image itself, seen as a “document and object of the habitual flowing and becoming”. In fact the images become alive and materialise due to a series of concomitant causes but the complexity of this process is revealed only in part and it remains intentionally hidden. The nature of the image itself is not peculiar of a single event but roots in the culture and in the historical awareness of the individual and society.
According to Serpetti the growth and self-determination of the individual develops inside the fine web of social relationships. He wants to reveal the mechanism of this process through “the sites of his paintings and his imagery” which become a tangible proof of being part of a thousand-year old civilization always present and contemporary even when it is located in the shadow of modern life.
(written statement about the event Spoleto Art meets Venice, Venice 2014)
PAOLO LEVI - historian and art critic
Alessio Serpetti is the master of engraving. Its cultural roots can be rightly placed in Italian historical symbolism, whose reference point is Alberto Martini. His works reflect the manual skills of an ancient soul. The signs are guided by an extremely talented hand, where nothing is left to chance. The contents are often shady, allusive, where the enigma is revealed only through the titles that the artist himself affixes to it. Serpetti brings the educated observer to regret today's rarity of an inspirational and executive path that has given much to Italian and European graphic culture. A masterful path that, five centuries ago, Albrecht Dürer first started.
(from the Presentation for “La Gioia dell’Opera su carta”; San Giorgio Arte Editore, 2019)
ALESSIO SERPETTI. ROOTS: ALBERTO MARTINI
Our journey takes us from visionary Pre-Romantic painting to the present day and investigates the most hidden and mysterious elements of the human soul, touching on the works of Füssli (representation of nightmare), Blake (mystical vision), Moreau (spiritual symbolism), Martini (esoteric pre-surrealism), all the way to Alessio Serpetti (Apollinian oneirism). It is an escape from reality that explores the world of dreams to fulfil our search for spirituality on the way to a “Paradise Lost”. From Füssli to Martini, we follow a “circular” structure that is pervaded with literary suggestions and, at the same time, is inscribed within the “time of History”. The circle moves from oneiric connotations filled with disturbing contents, towards Blake’s visionary spirituality and Moreau’s decadent one, and on to Martini’s sense of macabre and his anticipation of the demonic visions of Nazism. […] Serpetti, on the other hand, places himself outside the “time of History”. His message, both poetic and oneiric, has no links to reality. On the contrary, his sophisticated and soft black and white technique is elegantly employed to give his female figures a well-rounded plasticity. His taste is in contrast with the era he has to live in, so much so that we could suspect he might be mocking his own times.
(taken from Effetto Arte - april/june 2017; EA Editore)
The work of Alessio Serpetti leads observers to uncertain, distant atmospheres, which are dream-like and full of exoticism and which give voice to supernatural beings. Landscape, architectural views, or even mysterious interiors are the background of this artist’s pictures. They become perfect settings capable of receiving vanishing, light presences as if they are the main characters of a dream.
Serpetti must have had a real gift for graphic composition and light management. Light is declined with lyrical intuition in light and shade and counterpoints which are full of emotional tension. His basic, fine mark nicely suits the employment of pencils, charcoal, lead, pastels and Indian ink, and for this technical choice it is reminiscent of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century portrait painters’ skilfulness.
In his works Serpetti turns to colours in the least. On the contrary, a refined use of monochromy prevails and assigns to the mark the task of carrying out a weighty narrative function. The edges become lighter and set up backgrounds which are scrupulously outlined and the decline of woman’s figures is characterized by a bewildering beauty.
In his works Serpetti also introduces elements characterized by a strong symbolic meaning which enrich a painting with spiritual, enigmatic implications and, in doing so, he touches on the sphere of esotericism. The richness and complexity of these works give rise to their slow disclosure in front of observers’ eyes, who have of necessity to leave from an intuitive approach in order to come to a following reading which will be more thoughtful and sharing. They are narrations full of quotations which reveal a wide, deep visual culture and they communicate arcane suggestions, but they are always open to new interpretations.
(taken from Creazioni; Centro Diffusione Arte Editore, 2011)
He reflects a poetic world characterized by mysterious messages. The mask for this artist is not hiding, but the anxious reality of an invisible other.
(taken from Catalogo dell’Arte Moderna n. 46; Editoriale Giorgio Mondadori, 2010)
The essentiality of the graphic stroke, which is a predominant stylistic characteristic, becomes almost a signature in the works by Alessio Serpetti, a roman artist, whose personal research comes to develop an unusual kind of painting, concerning both the content and the formal aspect.
In front of these portraits, the observer notices the interior journey of the artist and interprets each detail of his work in the light of a patient and long artistic working-out. It is a subdued painting, characterized by a thin, fine and direct stroke. The expressive line sketches out dreamy and imaginary figures, delicate in their silhouettes; they seem to be creatures of another world, that is anyway recognizable for its natural elements. Tenuous images become the protagonists of a delicate visual poetics using a sign language that, excluding the colour, creates the effect of works that are as the pages of a book; they are linked the one with the other by an outline that allows the reality to intersect the unreal world without damaging the formal balance.
In his works there are naturalistic and architectural views that have a strictly pre-arranged scenery; these views are the background of scenes where figures are revealed by the light, subjects hide show meanings and they let the observer free in his interpretation. This kind of painting is more than simple description, because its symbolic context reminds an elaborate and spiritual field. Its conceptual value is initially sensed, then entirely understood. You are moreover struck by a lyrical intuition, which doesn’t need colours to reveal its evidence, sketching out moments of deep suggestion.
(taken from Tra le file dell’Arcaismo; Editoriale Giorgio Mondadori, 2010)
Alessio Serpetti with his white and his black makes painting. Not only that, white/black is sometimes more suggestive than color because it is more intimate, and these works are intimistic. They are in the dimension: if they were poetry, we would call them sonnets. And they are deeply suggestive.
In him there is a tradition exquisitely linked to the scenography and in these compositions, since we do not have theatrical development but only the scenographic apparatus, he gives us a metaphysical, detached, objective world: his stories are without human figures, they are micro- stories in which we have the reflection of an artist who makes chamber music for optical listeners who meditate sign after sign.
(extract from Introduction to the solo exhibition in the scope of Il Teorema dell’Arte; Tarquinia, 2010)
ISABELLA CAIROLI - art critic and journalist
ALESSIO SERPETTI. THE TRUE DIMENSION OF ART IS THE DREAM (Odilon Redon)
Dreaming is something that happens to us during the transition from wakefulness to a different state of consciousness. Dreams have been the subject of investigation for just over a hundred years. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was the first to work on this subject acquiring a number of followers. They idolized him or criticized him for decades and until the present day. Though some of his theories have entered the common parlance, we are still far from fully aware – in psychoanalysis as well as in the arts – of the weigh and influence of our nocturnal life and its imagery over the other part of our lives, which we define as the state of wakefulness, where we have the illusion of being in complete control of ourselves. Intuition often precedes more systematic studies. Proof of that is the fact that art began its exploration of dreams long before Freud did, finding in Symbolism the celebration and explosion of a tension that had been active long before. As early as the end of the 18th century, Heinrich Füssli wrote that “dream is the most unexplored region of art”.
Alessio Serpetti’s work finds its collocation in this dimension of time, a nocturnal, oneiric, mysterious dimension. The key to his messages can be found in the traditions of Symbolism that Serpetti himself considers to be an heir to. In his work we find female figures with mysterious attitudes, disturbing gazes, situations where everything is left suspended, with no margins for any explicit revelation.
His passion for scenography allows him to build and place the protagonists of each work on backgrounds characterised by the same a-temporal suspension.
These representations bring back to memory demons from Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, the spirits of nature and the ancient and elemental forces jousting in a fight between opposites. Alessio Serpetti has eyes for both the angelical and the demonic worlds. He uses elements from a research that is connected to the sphere of spirituality and to its archetypes. His angelical maidens are portrayed back to back, mystically looking at an infinite space, recalling an invocation of eternity. His prevalent use of a monochromatic range intensifies the idea that we are in a place that is spiritually detached from the images that constitute the polychromatic experience of our wakeful lives. It is in this context that his personal research on drawing finds its expression.
Part of his production is characterised by a more disturbing presence of obscure forces. This happens in those works where we observe more clearly a masked “mise-enscene”, a sort of role play. Missing revelations where the eyes in the painting – the mirrors of a nocturnal soul – are presented as synonyms of mystery and darkness rather than clarity, with a clear reference to the world of the subconscious and its revelations in disguise.
According to Paolo Levi, the relationship between Alessio Serpetti and an artist such as Heinrich Füssli who, like him, explored the dream worlds «is specified in the very different relationship between them in dealing with the hell of the soul. Those of Füssli have underground and telluric roots, they anticipate the German Dionysian Expressionism of the early twentieth century. Instead, those of Serpetti are subterranean, but express an Apollonian softness, in a context of meditated pictorial shading. From this sensual melancholy her flowering girls spring up».
We find in Serpetti an expressive romantic component, enigmatic messages that are revealed in symbolic and masked duplicity. This is often expressed through female images: the woman, with her curves, is both mother and seductress, bringer of a fecund life as well as of disquiet and of anguishing absences. She brings both protection and treason: who can say which of the two? I may be the victim of her beauty, the beauty of treacherous feelings, as fragile as a spiky rose branch. Thanks to his well balanced sfumato, his hand allows the plausible to coexist with images produced by our psyche. In the interplay between light and shadow, the artist becomes a messenger of spirituality under the visionary cover of his night ghosts, which dissolve at the break of dawn. There and then, they take once again the reassuring shape of angelical figures. Drawing prevails over colour and autonomously builds an alchemic whole of tone and counterpoints that define his protagonists and their scenery. Throughout much of his research, one perceives a fascination for Renaissance art and for the classical study of the female body, intended as a representation of beauty and life. Sometimes his maidens are portrayed with a suffering soul. Separating the desire for the feminine soul from its contradictions is not a prerogative of the male nature.
Honesty and duplicity carry an emotional load that weighs both on men and women, and are manifested in his works through the image of the mask. We have the impression of joining some exoteric ceremony, where sweet creatures with the immobility of sculptures hold our hand, soft and light in chiaroscuros that delineate their forms and their attitudes.
(from Effetto Arte - april/june 2017; EA Editore)
DANIELE RADINI TEDESCHI - historian, critic and art philosopher
The theme of ruin as a symbol of decadence is the centre of the work Contemplazione (Contemplation) by Alessio Serpetti, who, helped by the monochrome taste of grisaille, stimulates the pure, narrative fact, exacerbating and removing the ton sur ton which, otherwise, would distract from the scene. Women’s faces have a dialogue of matter with statues. Flesh and marble, reality and artifice, truth and mask (recurring images in his poetics) communicate in the shade of a devastated memory, witnessed by uprooted arcades, ruins, the silence of history.
(taken from L’Esausta Clessidra; Ed. Rosa dei Venti, 2011)
The allegorical value of which his works are full is obtained thanks to the mixture of theatrical elements (masks) and dreamlike elements (they allude to the sleep of reason) and in this way a black surrealism is created. The female figures, outlined with a delicate, light stroke, are recurring and useful to reveal the hidden meaning of the plot. The masks reflect an unnatural, distorted world which is hostile to the living one, while lighted candles and goblets allude to liturgical meanings.
(taken from Manent – Libro d'oro dell'arte Contemporanea; Ed. Rosa dei Venti, 2011)
SYMBOLOGY AND MISTERY IN THE WORKS OF ALESSIO SERPETTI
The painter Alessio Serpetti draws his inspiration from that symbolist tradition which led the highest representatives to crystallize on canvas a more intimate reality made up of dream and remembrance. Serpetti expresses these themes by objects, metaphors, and arcane symbols. […] In his pictorial exhibitions there are pictures which stand out from the others, such as Il Silenzio dell’anima (The Silence of soul) which alludes to liturgical meanings, by showing masks, candles and a chalice, which are the signs of devotion to God. On the contrary, the theme of ruin is the centre of the work Contemplazione (Contemplation): the woman’s face communicates with the statue, truth and mask communicate in the shade of decadence, witnessed by the uprooted arcades, by ruins, by the silence of history.
(taken from For Roma Magazine – January 2012; Fleming Press)
GIANLUIGI GUARNERI - historian and art critic
In the work Beyond spaces existential by Alessio Serpetti, inside an enigmatic landscape, where reality takes a double meaning, two worlds appear. They are stranger one another, but are connected by a figurative continuum through a space, perspective bewilderment. A sad young girl branches out among sparkling clouds and she witnesses a stage setting built among the branches of an improbable petrified forest.
(taken from Dal Surreale al Sensibile Informale; Immaginaria Editrice, 2012)
CATERINA RANDAZZO - historian and art critic
THE INVISIBLE TRUTH OF ALESSIO SERPETTI
Alessio Serpetti’s works are deeply rooted in that interior reality called psychic automatism that found its full expression in art into surrealism. The master’s art, linked to the idea of the dream and the free thought, topics often disregarded, is made of symbols, allusions, philosophical reflections inside his ego and smashes psychic mechanisms based on the rational way of thinking changing it with an unreal version of the world. The unmaterial spheres of the human being, the concept of soul, time, natural metamorphosis and his rejection are the main subjects of his works. In his painting called Il Silenzio dell’anima (The Silence of soul), the soul is trapped inside a stone statue and it seems to try to exit from it to free itself from the earthly restrictions. The deep identity hidden by the stone remains trapped from immemorial time. It’s steady and it doesn’t seem to change. Rich of symbols, Serpetti’s works look for different truths, far away from the objective sign. A mirror, vanity icon, comes from the classic myth of Narciso to the modern concept of self knowledge. The mirror represents the ambiguousness, this symbol, more than others expresses a spiritual vision, contemplatio, because through it you can find the approach between object and subject. In front of a mirror there’s a girl’s face, the true identity that can be seen just thanks to the candle light and so the stone armor in which she’s trapped seems to dissolve. Another symbol, sometimes deceptive, is the mask that here, in spite of the work In Attesa della metamorfosi (Waiting for metamorphosis) is not a symbol of deceit or falsity but a reflection of an invisible truth.
(from Effetto arte - july/august 2011; Centro Diffusione Arte Editore)
CINZIA FOLCARELLI - art critic
Dreamlike and surreal visions, realized by classic processes with charcoal pencil, pastel and oil, are typical of Alessio Serpetti’s works. Mysterious woods, disturbing castles, composite of figures, flowers and leaves, or mirrors reflecting the inner being. These are the main characters of his works, mindful of Surrealism and Metaphysics. Serpetti represents reality enriching it and giving it symbolic meanings. Careful to the scenographic aspect of compositions and to the details he leads us with his paintings in fascinating, lyrics, striking and distant worlds, in time and space.
(from catalogue of the exhibition “La Creatività dal mondo”; Bruges 2011)
ANNY BALDISSERA - art critic
Alessio Serpetti carves the sign and express the image through a realistic poetry, rich of intuitions, sober in formal uniform coat (campitura), with an ancient taste but at the same time up-to-date in the everyday life from which the artist can take deep sensations to qualify the graphic research. Every picture is alive and so symmetrical to the reality to seem merging with the reality itself. It’s the “eternal illusion” of a perfect identification in the completeness of the sign and colour, all to advantage an imaginary and emotionally solid context. The author, using not only a great technical ability but also a deep introspective ability, stratifies a precise formal syntax defined with the warm and mellow colors of his faces, surprising emotional results of a poetical conversing.
Alessio Serpetti works in a creative context of exceptional quality. His works, born from a constant research, from intuition synthesis, and from a programmed exercise on intellectually determining choices, talk in silence and communicate the infinite aspects of complicated concepts, continuously growing.
(from Introduction to the International Art Festival at Casa di Dante Museum, Florence, 2011)
LEANDRO CAVAGLIERI - art critic
In the quiet, peaceful research of an exhausted stylistic perfection, the lead pencil use underlines the great visual impact of chromatic assonances, as they were made by pastel. On his realistic faces a strong chiaroscuro is tinged, due to the lively candle flame, giving the impression of an emphasized, lyrical staying in contrast with the pale sheet of a delavè paper, with warm outlines, in contrast with calculated tones in black and white range until extending itself in risky mother-of-pearl reflections.
ISABELLA SERAFINI - art historian
An ascetic creativity, born from the brave rejection of color as immediate mean of emotionality, characterizes Alessio Serpetti’s works. The only chiaroscuro, is used is some different ways: to recall enchanted and sometimes metaphorical landscapes but also to offer us, by a virgin feminine presence, sorrowful reflections about beauty and fragility of life.
CARLO MARCANTONIO (1923-2003) painter, engraver and art critic
Alessio Serpetti’s works reveal an absolutely personal figurative research which tends to illuministic values with intensity and passion and to chiaroscuros passages that carefully underline the detail, investigated with an infrequent graphic sensitivity and striking lyricism in a symbolic and expressive key.
EDELWEISS MOLINA - teacher at Academy of Fine Arts in Rome
The symbolic and poetic research coming from the pictorial-graphic works by the artist Serpetti confirms the spirit of sensitive attention that characterizes his production. Here the sign has got a function of chromatic weaving, that is vanishing and also persistent. The feminine faces represented are assuming an expression of mime language belonging to our everyday reality or to that one which can belong to everyone’s own personal world (see L’illusione; The Illusion). So we can find an interchange between poses and behaviors, all predisposed to a meaningful silence. The eloquence suggests an astonished gaze (see Stupore; Astonishment), or a seraphic expression…of a young woman represented in her pure gestures as expressed in L’Innocenza (The Innocence). In L’Inganno (The Deceit), the face, the mask, the gesture became symbolic contribution for a performance that seems to have the aim of telling something or to suggest to the spectator to discover the hidden mistery…Depictions hiding melodies, never told sentences, allusions sometimes confirmed by the spectator, sometimes by the theme pointed out by the artist. That’s the way this gallery of women portraits and landscape (see Giochi di luce nel bosco, The Play of light in the wood; Idillio autunnale, Autumn idyll) acquires a dream, playful and poetic nature, adapting itself to the emotional expectations of people stopping looking at it.
CLAUDIO LUGI - teacher and critic
Guido Gozzano went on a journey to India in 1912, especially for health reasons, and when he came back to Italy, his poetry was enriched by that experience that lasted about three months and that was related in Verso la cuna del mondo (To the cradle of the world). Pasolini and Moravia, Manganelli and Tabucchi spent some time in India too, even if with very different interests, reporting their impressions and stimulus of that experience in their reports, all published in volume. The Suggestioni Indiane (Indian Suggestions) by Alessio Serpetti exceed the general youth ambition – and not only – towards somewhere else of exotic. In this couple of views, the successful mixture between the moghul art and the hindu one raises old colonial atmospheres, repeated in Idillio autunnale (Autumn idyll), where the natural scenery and the vegetation place the represented architecture in a rather European setting and in a simpler representation compared to the previous ones.
Serpetti has never visited India, but an iconography’s appeal nourished by mithes, literature and cinema influences him. La nuit Bengali (The Bengali night), a french film produced in 1988 and settled in Calcutta, has provided the roman artist with several ideas, as he declared in a recent interview. In the field of the mythological memory, we can particularly appreciate the painting paying homage to the first night of the parisian Aida, called Tra le memorie del tempo (Between the memories of time), a scenery of strong visual effect and great dramatic force highlighted by white and black shades and the stroke’s accuracy.
Alessio Serpetti is not a commercial author and he will never be like that, because his compositional care and his refined graphics, his attention to details and his taste of ornament impose him the observance of the nedeed times for the realization, such as an obstinate and meticulous artisan of the past, both in the planning and in the work. This is the result of his scholastic and academic education too, and in particular of his design studies at the Academy of fine Art in Rome. The taste for a classical decoration, not without De Chirico’s echoes (see Contemplazione; Contemplation), the subject of the methamorphosis and the double, hinted by the frequent presence of masks and the recurrence of symbology, often through enigmatic women’s figures, ends up by going well with some romantic topoi (Giochi di luce nel bosco, The Play of light in the wood; Nelle segrete del castello, In the dungeons of the castle; Verso il dominio celeste, To the heavenly domain), such as the mystery of woods, caves and mountains, that seem to wait for rare presences and often mysterious solitudes. Serpetti’s research also shaped in the bosom of the archaist movement, is based on the comparison with history, performed through a long reflection in w/b: the present-day man’s glance falls on the old traces of the past, looking for a meaning of the current world without heroes, looking for a harmony which is lost in the chaos of the daily routine.
(from Introduction to the solo exhibition “Liriche Suggestioni”; Monte Compatri, 2010)