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THE SCHOOL OF GORIZIA

A pamphlet published by Unitre of Cormons, where the existence of a school in Gorizia in figurative art is hypothesized: the idea is very intriguing, the clues in support of many, fascinating and in our opinion very valid go-polis. A Goritian style, original and identifiable? It is really worth discussing.

For this reason, we publish a first broad excerpt:

Francesca Agostinelli, from Udine, teacher, art historian, is also a curator of important personal and collective exhibitions, with which I have often dealt with the subject I am trying to develop in this paper, she has very well grasped the singular expressive character, the uniqueness of the way of painting of certain artists from Gorizia (not all) of the first and second '900, up to our days. This singularity is very evident especially when the work of many of them is compared with similar experiences of painters from Udine or Trieste, social, cultural and historical realities closer to Gorizia and yet so different in the final creative result: the painting, the drawing, the graphic work. 

I think you will all agree with me, especially after reading the first part of this dispensation and having understood something about the functioning of the "art system", that a serious and meditated, I would say scientific, certification of the School of Gorizia could represent an important working hypothesis that would allow enhancing the art of Gorizia as a whole making it, finally, important, "clean" and, above all, recognizing and certifying the international character of the various aesthetic languages matured and grown in our territory from the early '900 to our days. 

I was saying that not all the painters from Gorizia can be counted at this, still hypothetical, expressive "school". And not for this reason they are less important and interesting than the others. On the contrary. The city of Gorizia has been and could still be today, a singular and lively centre of reference and cultural production of international value, at least as far as the figurative arts are concerned. Under Austria, the rich and multiform cultural reality of Gorizia and the vast territory of the former County interacted positively with Ljubljana and Vienna and, of course, with the nearest Trieste and Venice, a city rich in masterpieces, home to important museums and major exhibitions. 

It happened, for example, that many Austrian, Slovenian and even Triestine artists were intrigued by the cultural ferment of Gorizia and, therefore, their work stays in the city were very frequent. For example, Avgust Černigoj (one of his paintings here beside), a versatile and "restless" painter of the Slovenian community of Trieste, was often in Gorizia, since the time of the Austrian Empire, to exhibit his works or to talk about art at the Garibaldi Café, at the Theatre Café, in the now non-existent inns of the old town or in the seats of the numerous cultural circles of that time.

The figurative language of Gorizia's artists was formed and matured in that original melting pot of peoples, languages, religions, cultural and artistic traditions that constituted the then powerful Habsburg Empire. The "Italians" or rather, the Italian subjects of His Majesty the Emperor, therefore also the artists, until the summer of 1918 belonged to the minority of "Italian language" that interacted with the other communities, with the German-speaking "majority", with the Slavic (Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles), Bulgarian, Romanian, Albanian, Hungarian, Roma, with the Jews. ..They have grown up in this exceptional context, giving and receiving cultural stimuli that have left a "long mark" so much so that these stimuli are still alive and present and positively influence artists in the broadest sense, therefore not only painters but also sculptors, writers, musicians, poets, actors...that the users (the public) of their work. The supranational character of the Empire has undoubtedly influenced the way of seeing, writing, reading, feeling, thinking and acting of the people settled in the territories of this vast social organization, so much to constitute a common and shared cultural heritage, based on the continuous comparison between very different ways of life, traditions and languages and therefore, often also the object of strong tensions. Unity in diversity, in short. Nationalisms aside...

I, therefore, think it is correct to say that the hypothetical, at least for the moment, the collective experience of painting that I want to call the School of Gorizia has always been expressed through a plurinational aesthetic language, free from the constraints imposed by the old political and "mental" borders or by the different forms of government that have come to power in our territory (Hapsburg monarchy, Savoy monarchy, fascism, allied democratic republic occupation). 

A language that crosses all the absurd walls raised by human stupidity, that ridicules the term "border art or artist" expanding and taking root freely in the territory...from Wien to Ljubljana...from Ljubljana to Gorizia, Görz, Gorica, Gurizza...to Venice...and back...maybe with a stop in Trieste. I'm thinking of Egon Schiele, the great Austrian painter, who at a certain point in his short and intense life was in Trieste where he was fascinated by the beauty of this city that descends from the Karst mountain to overlook the sea, paints a series of marinas illuminated by a different light from that of the great views of the Austrian village of Krumau (Leopold Museum in Vienna), even though it too was built along the bed of a waterway which, unlike the one painted on the shore of the Adriatic, is without reflections, black and impenetrable like an asphalt road with tar-black.

I believe that the origins of Gorizia's art today, and of the art that passed through the whole 20th century, are directly connected to the Secessionist and, later, Constructivist and Expressionist experiences matured in the studios of the great artists of Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Ljubljana. But let's not forget the relations and contacts of many painters from Gorizia with Paris and, after the end of the Great War, with Rome, Venice, Turin, Milan and other Italian cities. Practically, I repeat, Gorizia's art, since the end of 1800, has been strongly characterized by a mixed, composite figurative language, where one can identify echoes and suggestions derived from Venetian colourism, from the dramatic traits of expressionism, from Viennese geometrism and decorativism, from futurist dynamism, from central European narrative clarity and the disruptive, often ironic, Slavic/ Balkan graphic language. So this School of Gorizia is a singular collective experience, developed over time, on a specific territory, without the need for organizational directives, ideological guidelines or constitutive posters and proclamations. The collective experience, I was saying, which brings together individual artistic personalities of outstanding talent taking into account, almost exclusively, the particularities listed above in the short and important text by Francesca Agostinelli. Thus a real expressive reality is born, supported and, why not, also justified first of all by the quality of the works produced and, consequently, by the mastery (magisterium) expressed by the protagonists of this singular experience. As far as I am concerned, I believe that the painters Luigi (Lojze) Spazzapan, Anton Zoran Mušič, Gabriel Stupica, Cesare Mocchiutti can be defined as the "pioneers" of this hypothetical cultural reality.

Also very important are some places and various cultural structures that have taken on a profound symbolic role in the determination and development of the language of the "School". Among the "places" I think I should mention the cities of Vienna, Ljubljana, Trieste, Venice, Gorizia, its surroundings (on this side of the border that is no longer there today) and in particular Borgo Castello and the historical centre below. But also Cormons, Gradisca, Monfalcone, Grado, Aquileia... Among the structures, institutions and cultural events that have nourished the seed of the "school" I consider important all the Art Museums of the cities already mentioned and in particular the Pinacoteca of Palazzo Attems; the "Mostra Giovanile d'Arti Figurative" promoted by Agi di Gorizia in the rooms of Palazzo Attems; the collective exhibitions of the immediate post-war period organized in Cormons and Gradisca d'Isonzo; the International Art Biennials in Venice, especially the first editions, from 1948 to 1956 (finally, after the dark years of Fascism and the Nazi occupation, the works of the great masters of the European avant-garde can be seen in Italy) but also the Biennial of 1964 (pop-art comes from New York) and the so-called "protest" Biennial of 1968 when the majority of the Italian artists invited to turn the paintings and hide the exhibited sculptures with drapes and sheets of paper as a sign of protest for the massive presence of the Police inside the Biennial. And again the International Biennials of Graphic Art in Ljubljana where, for the first time, the artists from Gorizia admitted by the jury have the great opportunity to confront the works of foreign colleagues of international fame. Among the people from Gorizia present at that great exhibition over the years, I remember, by heart, not only the various participations of Mušič but also those of Palli, Dugo, Valvassori, Klanjšček. In Gorizia the "symbolic places" where the "School" matured are undoubtedly the already mentioned Picture Gallery of Palazzo Attems; the Taverna della Dama Bianca, in Borgo Castello open until the 50s; the Reading Circle in via Morelli; the Press Club in Corso Verdi; the Caffè Teatro with its Piccola Permanente d'Arte managed by the good Edi De Nicolo; the Pro Loco galleries, "Il Torchio" in via Mameli, "La Bottega" in via Nizza and at the end of the 80s the Studio d'Arte Associazione Culturale "EXIT" in Favetti street.

I can't forget the Istituto Statale d'Arte, the old Art School of Medaglie d'Oro Square (today Liceo Artistico) which, especially in the period 1960/1980, is the main meeting place, a real generational exchange of experiences between artists/teachers such as sculptors Dino Basaldella, Mario Sartori, Franch Marinotto; the painters Cesare Mocchiutti, Giorgio Celiberti, Agostino (Tino) Piazza and students/artists such as Mario Palli, Renato Trevisan, Enzo Valentinuz, Giuseppe Goia, Ercole Colautti, Violetta Viola, Mauro Mauri, Teodoro (Darko) Bevilacqua, Luciano de Gironcoli, Giorgio Valvassori, Roberto Bruschina, Salvatore Puddu, Mara Gallas, Eliano Cucit, Romano Schnabl , Sergio Pausig, Giancarlo Doliac, Mario Di Iorio, Claudio Mrakic, Paolo Figar, Alfred de Locatelli, Max Busan, Nico Di Stasio, Maurizio Gerini, Marina Legovini, Laura Boletig, Thomas Braida, Valerio Nicolai and others, including many young Slovenians who later continued their studies in Venice or Milan and are now established artists in the nearby new republic. Goia, Valentinuz, Pausig, Valvassori, Figar, de Locatelli, Busan, Braida and Nicolai continued their studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice; Palli and Trevisan attended the Magisterium of Art at the Venice Institute; Mrakic went to study for some years in Ljubljana while Di Stasio was in Milan, at the Brera Academy. Many of them became teachers at the same Institute, such as Mauri, Palli, Trevisan, Gallas and Valvassori. Goia taught for years in Venice and then moved on to the Liceo Artistico in Treviso; Di Iorio was assistant at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan as de Locatelli still is today; Pausig taught at both the Venice and Palermo Academy. David Marinotto, sculptor, son of Franch, sculptor, former teacher and gallery owner in Gorizia for many years, is a teacher of sculpture at the Academy of Venice. Gallas, Schnabl and Cucit have become architects. Mara Gallas was dean of the Institute of Gorizia for several years while Romano Schnabl still teaches at the Liceo artistico of Trieste. A careful analysis of this complicated map of "places", of public and private cultural institutions, of presences and contacts between artists could be enough to define a first credible data that certifies the existence of a vast and complex network of "aesthetic activities" and "information exchange" distributed between Gorizia and its territory of reference. However, all this is still not enough to define with certainty the existence of a "School of Gorizia".

FURTHER READING:

The School of Gorizia (2nd part)

Painters of Gorizia