Work sheet

Phoenix · work code AW23

Technical data

purchase dateacquired in the portfolio
estimated current value in €consult the updated Price Table
identification of the subjectabstract painting/reconstructivist work
materials and techniquesoil on canvas/mixed media/material work
measurements in centimeters cm80 x 60 x 1,8
inscription techniqueoil
inscription positionon the back/bottom/right
authenticity certificateissued at the same time as the sale
art multiplesno print issued
state of conservationintact work
location of the workRome · Italy
copyright© all rights reserved · global · S.I.A.E.

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Raisuli Oimar Tancredi Valvo · Fenice · 2023 · Picture 0 · © All rights reserved S.I.A.E.
Phoenix · work code AW23

Description of work


“Post fata resurgo”.
“After death, I get up again”.
The motto of the phoenix.
The Egyptians were the first to talk about Bennu, a creature who, in Greek legends, later became the phoenix, usually depicting it with the Atèf crown, or with the emblem of the solar disk.
Like the heron, which in taking flight seemed to mimic the sun rising from the water, the Phoenix was associated with the sun and represented the bà (“the soul”) of the sun god, Rà, of which it was the emblem. So much so that, in the late hieroglyphic period of Bènnu, it was used to directly represent Rà.
Not only.
The manifestation of the risen Osiris.
Christ. Around the fourth century.
Spiritual rebirth.
Herodotus claimed to have never seen one, unless it was painted.
Nowadays the saying survives: “to be a phoenix”, to indicate something whose equal is unknown. Unobtainable. A unique and, above all, elusive specimen, according to Metastasio’s well-known saying.

“It is the faith of lovers,
like the Arabian Phoenix,
that there is, everyone says,
where it is no one knows.”

In this work, almost monochrome, with strong contrasts and an opaque black background, it is possible to trace countless elements typical of the artist’s stylistic code, as well as most of the mechanisms typical of the reconstructivist work as such. The strong symbolism, omnipresent in Valvo, is however proposed, in “Phoenix“, with unusual yearnings towards a tending and highly unexpected obliquity, mostly absent in the other works of the same author. A magnetism of limited chromatic backgrounds, lines, serpentines and irregular shapes, only apparently chaotic. In fact, it is the phoenix itself, the mythical image, that appears in the background, well centered and with wings spread. Once again, a highly figurative element that is almost non-existent in Valvo’s other paintings. In the upper left part of the canvas, the stylized image of a second bird, lying on a material background, black on black with the background, probably symbolizing the burial of the father phoenix, as per the mythological narrative. The dynamic diffusion of the multiple linearities is in tune with the profusion of aromas, with which the phoenix sprinkles itself before incinerating itself and then rising to new life. Early Christian symbolism can be found, especially in the recurrence of the letter “P”, upside down or horizontally, rolled up on itself or, in any case, distorted. And in the phoenix itself, the symbol of Christ. The circle here represents the recurrence of the solar disk, according to the Egyptian vision of the myth. Blank. In grey. In black. Superimposed. Material quadratures, typical of the author, appear in white, in the lower left part of the canvas. Black material streaks complete, in the upper part, the black background of the deceased father phoenix. As if to underline an implicit dynamism, the exit from the field, towards the left, signifying the next and imminent phase of regeneration and consequent rebirth. Flat and empty squares, open or closed, white, black or grey, spread throughout the pictorial space, characterizing the initial glance. Shaded quadrangular backgrounds, in white and grey, dominate in the central band and in the lower left part. The serpent, the author’s stylistic stamp, flows in white from the neck of the phoenix in the background. It is also hinted at on the right edge of the canvas. Polychromy in the strict sense, completely absent in this work, suggests the liminal phase of the existence of the subject treated. It is therefore not represented here in its intrinsic phase of rebirth, but of combustion and death. Moreover, the ash tones of this work bring back the image of the heron. Bird with which the phoenix was already represented by the ancient Egyptians, in conjunction with the figure of the sparrow. The visual impact of the angularities, voids, solids, lines and serpentines is attenuated in this work by the absence of colour. A well-determined stylistic choice. The phoenix stands ready to be reborn but the space is decidedly gloomy. Perhaps a sort of escapology from the guidelines of the myth itself? Or perhaps, on the contrary, slavish compliance with it? Thus making the black itself predict the imminent combustive spark. A dynamism, therefore, not only graphic but also temporal in the strict sense. The work is not a representation of an instant but of a process, even if only implied. The painting appears to our eyes in its completeness. At the same time it leans forward. The undeniably figurative representation of the phoenix in the background is onomatopoeic of the very birth of the reconstructivist effort. Almost an artistic manifesto. Here the figure exists. Here the figure dies. And it is reborn. In a reconstructive sense.

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