The artist multiplies Antonello Da Messina’s painting in a pop style
Mauro Drudi has chosen Antonello da Messina’s Virgin Annunciate as the guiding image of his investigation into the diverse world of women. Why? Because, in the gentle and inquiring gaze of this female figure, he identified a behaviour that goes beyond time and arrives to us with the purity and inquisitional insistence that is part of the female genetics, and that makes every variation and circumstance appear unique in the eyes of the world. The artist took the essential and distinctive lines of her face and transferred them to most different surfaces, ranging from canvas to wood, jute, and so on, in order to reiterate the imperturbable way in which “she” – whom he reproduces so obsessively in all his contemplative approaches – is reproduced in the different moments he portrays. To highlight this attitude, the artist creates wide semicircles by overlapping varied paintings of this most particular icon on wood, and then places them on the floor in specific exhibition spaces, so that they seem to embrace and assimilate visitors, as it happened in the church of San Cristoforo in Ortigia, in the province of Siracusa. “Her” insistent gaze follows and chases those who still cannot understand the insistent presence of such a reality in everyday transits like a memory and a surprise. Drudi’s creative behaviour also becomes a conceptual operation: at some point, the repeated intention goes beyond the image itself, to preserve the essential and inherent quality of the message. Therefore, the figure is exalted and turned into a sign, becoming an emblem, a symbol, a mirror of the truths that it contains. The author himself said that “Every painting becomes the story of a woman, a story that is born from the sensitivity of the observer – rather than from that of the painter – as well as from his experiences, moods and life”.
A recognizable figure in the myriad of images that bombard our time and reproduced in different colours and sizes
This makes us think of what Andy Warhol said about his very personal work: “All my images are the same… but very different at the same time… They change with the light or colours, with the times and moods. Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?”. Drudi himself makes no secret of his interest in Warhol’s pop style and in the refined repetition of the portrayed subject “to create an icon, an image that can be recognized in the myriad of images that bombard the beginning of this millennium, and that can be reproduced in any colour, size, scale, proportion and on any material”. Nevertheless, there is an important difference. Whereas, in his critical reviews, Warhol took the cue from advertising and the consumerist rite to exalt or denounce its many aspects (including the formal ones), Drudi makes use of the same image and paints different versions of it on all materials, creating a sort of trap that is intended to capture the observer’s attention and to contaminate his thoughts: his repeated Virgin Annunciate behaves like a real Leitmotiv of charming attractiveness and persuasion. And of denunciation of all the abuses that still affect the female universe. For this very reason, the Virgin Annunciate, in the renewed and reinterpreted versions of our artist, becomes an effective warning to the present world.