Painter and Sculptor - Italian 20th century artist

Criticism and testimonies

Vittorio Sgarbi
Storytellers of Our Time 2024


.." Aristide Gattavecchia lived in Cesena in the same places and in the same years as Alberto Sughi, a painter of whom he was a friend, who died a few years ago, who was a great realist but also existential painter, and Sughi comes to mind because in Gattavecchia's painting there is no consonance or affinity with Sughi but there is a climate, the idea of ​​a place on earth where one feels the profound dimension of a spirituality which is what the Romagna world expresses in its larger, warmer representations like that of an artist like Fellini.

Here, the idea of ​​feeling that Romagna in which the fog often hides and recalls that Fellini film of that character who says: "but where have I ended up" because he no longer recognizes anything around him, "but if this is the afterlife It's not a good thing!".

That is, feeling of getting lost in these constant mists, in these fumes, which are the fumes of places where there is no longer life, were a reason for profound reflection for Gattavechia, as well as his silhouettes of figures which recall the great painting of Sironi, but everything is as if seen in an afterlife, in a hell where it is difficult to find the light.

So his painting is a dramatic and existential painting at the same time.
In this it must be said that the references I made are the references that serve to make one feel that he was not alone in this condition of existential discomfort.

He was able to leave us very important signs of his human relationship, in portraits such as "La Bruna" from 1960, which is a remarkable portrait of great strength and in some landscapes in which the nudes are headless like classical sculptures, ancient sculptures .

It is something that has to do with the feeling of a world that no longer has a certain reference, and there are no longer certain values ​​and everything, even families at the seaside, are seen from behind as if to represent a condition of unhappiness and inadequacy.

Here, among his significant works, there is certainly this foggy landscape of a ghost Cesena, which becomes like a place from the afterlife.

However, loyalty to his lands does not make him become a vernacular artist who describes Romagna as a picturesque fact, but as something in which there is the profound sense of a dramatic existence, which was his, with the themes of the landscape which is talked about a lot today.

Of the climate therefore the pollution, the dimension of the end of a certainty of a harmonious world, and all this is in this so intensely dramatic representation of his that he wants to make us reflect even today (he died in 1994) on a crisis in the world in which you feel a deep discomfort.

Then faces like that of this wonderful female figure, "La Bruna", give us the sense that humanity resists but that around us there is a collapse of the world, there is an increasingly less happy nature and we must in try to defend ourselves in some way by staying close, being close to each other, to avoid being overwhelmed.

Here, this hope in the end, in the generally pessimistic vision of him, is a significant sign of the legacy that Gattavecchia leaves us with his paintings."

Prof. Vittorio Sgarbi


Sughi's letter

In 1987 the Municipality of Cesena decided to celebrate Gattavecchia's 80th birthday by organizing a personal exhibition for him at the Municipal Art Gallery.
The famous artist Alberto Sughi was supposed to participate in the event, to pay homage to him given their great friendship.
Unfortunately he was unable to be present, but he tried to show his closeness by sending him the "draft" of the speech he would have given at the inauguration.
It is an interesting testimony of the cultural and artistic ferment of that period and of how many artists shared emotions, dialogue, comparison, all meeting together in the studio at the top of the tower, in the historic Rocca di Cesena.

"Dear Aristide, Do you remember how many of us found ourselves laughing, crying and dreaming like children in that liberating post-war period? I like to remember the dear names, just as they resurface from that distant time and I'll start with yours, Aristide, who turns 80 today with the gaze and heart of a boy and with that of the unforgettable Otello Magnani, like you nourished with intelligence and a tenacious passion for painting. And the names of the inseparable trio Cappelli, Caldari and mine. Perched in the keep above the square together with Fioravanti, architect and sculptor, and the young professor Dradi who, first, tried to critically identify our work. How many endless hours spent together in the streets, in the cafés of old Cesena discussing everything: art, politics, life ... and how vivid the memory of you is, Aristide, elf acrobat of paradox, always on the thread that links reality and fantasy. In those years, the great Muccini arrived in Cesena first and then the poet Pedretti, who left us, almost wanted to hand it over to our group, the example and memory of the character of artists and intellectuals. I must confess to you, Aristide, my emotion in remembering that season: everything seemed to move along a path led astray by who knows who... then we liked to think that in that path there were still traces of Renato Serra's steps. How nice it would be to return to the Rocca's study in a sort of metaphysical room where we could resume our conversations, perhaps together with friends who came to visit us from as far away as Raimondi, Bernari, Guerra, Cagli and to all the writers and scholars who came up there through Giovanni Bettini's bookshop. Dear Zimildin, I am happy that the administration of Cesena is holding an exhibition to celebrate your incredible 80 years. Who will visit your exhibition, you will understand how profound the cultural commitment that animated our group was and how your painting is nourished by that original stylistic character that made more than one think of the birth of the Cesena school. On other occasions I have spoken in a more punctual with your work; allow me today, that I am far away, to let the memory revive the contours of a distant season in which your person and your work also had such an important part. Warmest wishes from yours  Alberto Sughi
Rome, 9/11/ 1987"