DEVETAG CESARE (1917- 2006)
Cesare Devetag was born in Milan in 1917 and lived in Gorizia since his childhood: he graduated in law in Trieste and took part in the Greek war with the Alpine troops of the "Julia".
Lawyer, he was also an important regional politician and in the last period of his life, he lived in Cormòns, in the province of Gorizia. He lived with intensity the Julian and Friulian cultural environments, in constant contact with the Austrian and Slavic artistic world of which Gorizia still cultivates the deep affluence and dialectic in the annual Central European cultural meetings of the Veneto Castle and Attems Palace. He devoted himself mainly to watercolour and tempera, started by his father, Luigi. He was part of that group of scholars and artists who, in the immediate post-war period, made a circle in Gorizia, radiated towards all latitudes: artists like Brass, Spazzapan, Pilon, Bucich, Bolaffio, Del Neri, and later, Melius, Crali, up to the younger Cenisi, Altieri and Mocchiutti.
Rare his appearances in public, even if he still paints with perseverance and enthusiasm. He has exhibited in Gorizia, Cormòns, Udine, Trieste, Milan, Monfalcone, Bari, Villach (Austria), Nova Gorica (Slovenia), Rome, Grado, Florence, Verona. His works can be found in the museum of Gorizia and public institutions in Venezia Giulia, Slovenia and Austria. Several of his paintings belong to private collections in Friuli - Venezia Giulia, Rome, Milan, Venice, Vienna and other European cities. He died in Gorizia in 2006.
Giuseppe Zigaina wrote about him:
I realize only now, writing about him, that Cesare Devetag, the Devetag I have known for many years and always meet with great sympathy, leads back to a double image: the painter and the politician. Even trying to overlap them, these images, after a while, resume their autonomy, smiling reality. It takes stubbornness and also an obscure inability to decide to carry on these two discourses. So unpleasant to each other. Devetag himself confesses it, with his transparent eyes (clamorously improper in a committed politician). "An artist," he says, "however modest he may be, is first and foremost a free man in the broadest sense of the word: he is usually nonconformist, contrary to routine, to master, to the system. The meekness and, indeed, the smiling and true "stateliness" of Devetag have perhaps prevented him from making the "foiled choice of painting" in the exciting years after the First World War. In those years the artistic and cultural life of Gorizia was the most poignant one can remember: the paternal, fanatical love for the artists of the first enlightened mayors, the penniless friendship between painters from Udine and Gorizia, consolidated in the discovery of the Tocai, as well as in the exhibitions at Palazzo Attems (the museum that remains in the memory as the Nievian kitchen full of mysterious shadows and incredible nocturnal characters) the rustic bohemian... But I don't remember the Devetag of those years. And yet in 1942, he had already exhibited with Maini, Cesini, Giannandrea, the Orzan. Probably, with the studies of law, he had started to split up into two... Certainly, from the way he paints, Cesare Devetag (whose naturalness as a painter is very evident) if he did not neglect his activity as a politician, he carried on his youthful passion without uncertainties (as second nature of his own). Without uncertainties and - these are his words - with "a tremendous hurry to realize certain ideas". So even if the way he summarizes figures and characters - as well as confirming his "confession" - can suggest a skill exhibited without complexes, it is certainly inscribed in a certain Isontine painting of which Spazzapan may have been the founder. And it is touching to catch his furious, insatiable desire to paint everything he sees. "I want to express" - Devetag says again - "the joy that life can give to lonely men who know how to live and appreciate all that the universe gives us". Is this innocence? Or a residual breath of that eternal wisdom? Or is one of the two "images" still for him, "innocent", a reserve of identity?
A. DEVETAG, DAMIANI, FORTUNA, MILIC, ZIGAINA
INTRODUCTION BY ANTONIO DEVETAG
The colours of individualism and the liberated form. Cesare Devetag is a "politically incorrect" painter; he can hardly be traced back to predetermined schemes, to certain repetitive onanism that afflicts a good part of contemporary art. He is an individualist, nobly anarchic, possesses the qualities of irony and desecrating sarcasm, and if anything, his generational limit is that of unshakeable faith in Man and his possibilities of redemption. The courage to renew oneself is a sign of intelligence and authentic artistic inspiration. Not binding oneself to pre-constituted modules means dispersing banal certainties; trying new styles proves that we are in front of a true artist. Cesare Devetag has ranged from tempera to oil, from watercolour to gouache, never ceasing to express his world. Licio Damiani says it well when he recognizes the original vein of the Isonzo artist while recognizing influences and derivations, or when he frames the impulse, basically optimistic, to express life in the most varied colours and forms, in a more French milieu (Dufy or Matisse, but we also add, for vitalistic transport and intellectual freedom, a Picasso and a Chagall), which is Central European.
But it is the same Devetag himself who proudly reaffirms his belonging and training to the Isonzo environment, after all very rich in formidable artists, even if often little known nationally. The experiences of Spazzapan, Cenisi in, Altieri (and others not excluding Music) very often the closeness and contact, the discussions have marked his artistic path. Cesare Devetag's culture is profound and unquestionable, deeply humanistic, his power to synthesize various styles in a very personal unicum that accompanies all his life. A culture that knows very well the history of art: you can notice Renaissance archetypes in some Maternity or perspectives that in their depth want to open a glimmer in the world of ideas. Ideas almost always marked, sometimes even forced by the optimism of the will and an inalienable love for life. Hence the personal use of colour with unpredictable combinations and yet always marked by a "style" and a "taste" that identifies it.
Cesare Devetag, born in 1917, has known war and death, like anyone who has crossed the "short century", but he contrasts darkness with the glow of love and eroticism, the solar impulse towards joy and satisfaction of the senses. This does not erase deeper and more melancholy reflections in the face of pain, which are completely new, as they are stripped of Catholic guilt. Instead, they contain a resigned pagan (or rather classical) amazement in the face of the End of Things. And the "meridian demon", a dechirican shock that separates the twentieth century from the nineteenth century, appears here and there in his paintings, as in some landscapes where things lose their name, their intelligible substance to rise to a metaphysical "absolute". The history and sensitivity of the twentieth century unfold in Devetag's paintings in an awareness that goes beyond mere representation. Colours and forms, and the banalest themes of the common pictorial repertoire show the desire for redemption. If, in short, vitality and joy are the most evident and essential data of Devetag, as the essays herein contained well underline, one can always guess, at a closer look, the other side of the coin, the other demon, the dark one, who scrutinizes us disquieting even from behind the shoulders of his many vital nudes.
DAMIANI: THE CULTURAL MATRICES OF A VERY ORIGINAL PAINTING
In the second volume on "Art of the Twentieth Century in Friuli - Myth and Rationalism", Cesare Devetag's painting is a definitive painting of instinct, neither naive nor primitive, deriving instead from a sum of suggestions and cultural news. A judgment that is confirmed in this short incisive anthology of an artist who creates for the pleasure of creating.
The fact that Cesare Devetag is professionally engaged in fields very different from painting does not make this an easy and occasional evasive moment, a sentimentalistic outburst.
There is an artistic constant in all of Devetag's work, and it confirms, with the spirit of research, his dignity and value. The language with its resentful graphism, fluttering and whirling, sustained by the empathic warmth of colour, now sumptuously "fluorescent", now held on cold, icy, lunar tones, recalls, in certain aspects, the excited stenographies of Spazzapan and therefore participates in the most vital juices of the Isontine figurative culture, of which Devetag himself is an attentive and passionate lover and collector; but with an ironic, sunny acceptance without dramatic tensions, but dominated by a sort of sceptical detachment and at the same time lively curiosity that guarantees its strong autonomous characterization.
It is precisely through the mediation of Spazzapan that Devetag ends up landing on other, more distant shores: expressionism, above all, is more like the "Fauve" version of the French, chromatically supported by a true vitality, rather than the troubled, painful, obsessive one of the Germans. In short, the lighting of a Derain, the airy and fragrant arabesques, the cheerful post-impressionist "special type of drawings" of a Dufy prevail over the anguished "unpleasantness" of a Kirchner, over the devastating malaise of a Schiele. Devetag is led to go beyond reality in dreams and fantasy, and here, then, the persuasive encounter with Chagallian fairy tales, read in the evelopments of birds in violet nests, become vague and humble forms, mysterious and evocative.
The watercolour and tempera lighten the pictorial plant carried out along the salient features of a sign weave all flashes, flashes, curls. There is also in Devetag, an acute and personal reinterpretation of "art-nouveau" and secessionist styles, anticipating, in unsuspected times, that return of attention towards neo-liberty blooms. A painting, therefore, nourished by rich sources, intellectually aware and, at the same time, deeply original, for the artist's ability to bring to synthesis suggestions and echoes and to tune them to his temperament, transforming everything into impetuous immediacy of gesture. The sensations of reality - be it a woman's face, a female nude campsite on hints of urban scenery, a maritime landscape of Positano, a bunch of alpine flowers - are transformed into a sort of incandescent celebration of seeing that never loses the sweetness of its melodious flow.
PIERO FORTUNA: THE ART OF DEVETAG AND THE GREAT VITALISTIC GAME
Appartengo, le confesso alla schiera di coloro i quali invidiano i pittori. Questo sentimento non mi appare riprovevole. Ad ogni buon conto lo prova anche un artista come Fellini"Invidio i pittori", scrive infatti il celebre regista." Carta, matite e tubetti di colore permettono loro di affermarsi in ogni circostanza. Per loro ci sarà sempre una mela verde sul tavolo, una valle alla fine di una passeggiata, e luce finché avranno la forza di aprire gli occhi". Dunque la mia invidia è ben motivata ed inoltre ha avvalli autorevoli. Che poi essa si riverberi anche su Cesare Devetag, mi riempie di piacere. Devetag ha un modo di essere uomo e pittore che ha stimolato in me nel tempo, curiosità, rispetto e ammirazione.
Ora vorrei uscire da questo avvio (apparentemente) scherzoso, perché la personalità di Devetag, giunta a una maturazione completa deve indurre a riflessioni più mediate. Devetag ha fatto della pittura un elemento alternativo, un processo di ricambio psicologico, uno stimolo ad uscire dal convenzionale. Da quel tanto di convenzionale al quale un avvocato deve soggiacere nell'esercizio della professione. (Ma non solo l'avvocato. Anche il medico, l'ingegnere, l'impiegato di concetto il giornalista ). Devetag, inoltre, è stato un politico. Il suo curriculum anche in questo campo è più che rispettabile; ha fatto parte del Comitato di Liberazione negli anni in cui il destino di Gorizia, la sua città, era drammaticamente in gioco; in seguito ha avuto approcci ragguardevoli con i ruoli molteplici del pubblico amministratore .Consigliere comunale, vicesindaco, consigliere e assessore regionale.
Molta prosa, anche se di fattura eccellente. Ma anche molta poesia, questa nascosta nel suo atelier di pittore dove è riuscito a ritagliarsi i momenti più estatici e sinceri, di un'esistenza tumultuosa trascorsa nel segno dell'impegno civile e qualche volta nell'eccesso. Tele, colori pennelli, sono gli strumenti di una passione che non ha mai attinto alle banalità del passatempo. Non un "pittore della domenica". Ma un pittore tout court, senza alibi e scappatoie dialettiche. Quale sia la sua grammatica non spetta a me stabilirla. Qui ne dà conto Licio Damiani,critico e uomo di lettere di assoluta attendibilità. Ma per quanto riguarda posso dire che nei quadri di Cesare Devetag ho sempre riscontrato la misura precisa del suo essere uomo. La delicatezza del segno, la sensibilità del colore, un insieme di soavità, di forza e di determinazione che non cessano di commuovermi.
Il gusto della vita. Ecco, nella pittura di Devetag si coglie acutamente il gusto della vita. Una pittura chiara, sciolta. Mi viene in mente anche l'aggettivo leale. Qualcuno potrà chiedersi che cosa c'entra la lealtà con la pittura. A mio avviso c'entra benissimo.Nell'arte di Devetag si intravede (io intravedo) chiaramente una profonda onestà intellettuale.Dunque la sua lealtà verso una forma di espressione che si presta sovente ad ambiguità stilistiche e di contenuti. Lui rifiuta ogni ambiguità. Si consegna così com'è al giudizio della critica, che anche per questo lo ripaga con la stima.
CARLO MILIC: AN AUTHENTICALLY PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Cesare Devetag arrives in Trieste with a career full of humanity and poetic intuitions: his painting follows a wide and dynamic gesture that finds saturation in compositions full of ferment and emotions. It is the work of an artist, who knows how to undress at the right time of his daily cares to appear intact advocate of an expressive proposal, who knows how to grasp from different typologies the most felt reasons to realize an authentically personal testimony.
The matrix is undoubtedly of figurative memory, but in the expressed labour progressively dissolves that coercive phrasing, which limits the freedom of definition: the ultimate result is manifesting the core of a projection of a world of images that are at once active synthesis and identification of a mystical and remote state, to which belongs the best nature of man.
ZIGGAINA: A CRAFT EXHIBITED WITHOUT COMPLEXES
I realize only now, writing about him, that Cesare Devetag, whom I have known for many years and whom I always meet with a lot of sympathies, leads back to a double image: the painter and the politician. Even trying to overlap them, these images, after a while, resume their autonomy, smiling reality. It takes obstinacy and even a dark inability to decide to carry on these two speeches. Devetag himself confesses it, with his transparent eyes...
An artist," he says, "however modest he may be, is first and foremost a free man in the broadest sense of the word: he is usually nonconformist, contrary to routine, to the master, to the system". The meekness and, indeed, the smiling and true "stateliness" of Devetag have perhaps prevented him from making the "foiled choice of painting" in the exciting years after the First World War. In those years the artistic and cultural life of Gorizia was the most poignant one can remember: the paternal, fanatical love for the artists of the first enlightened mayors, the penniless friendship between painters from Udine and Gorizia, consolidated in the discovery of the Tocai, as well as in the exhibitions at Palazzo Attems (the museum that remains in the memory as the Nievian kitchen full of mysterious shadows and incredible nocturnal characters) the rustic bohemian...
But I don't remember the Devetag of those years. Yet already in 1942, he had exhibited with Malni, Cesini, Giannandrea, the Orzani. Probably, with the studies of the law, it will have begun in him the doubling... Certainly from how he paints, Cesare Devetag (whose naturalness as a painter is very evident) if he has not neglected his activity as a politician, has carried on without uncertainties (as second nature) his youthful passion. Without uncertainties and - his words - with "a tremendous hurry to realize certain ideas". So even if the way he summarizes figures and characters - as well as confirming his "confession" - can make you think of a skill exhibited without complexes, it is certainly inscribed in a certain Isontine painting of which Spazzapan may have been the founder. And it is touching to catch his furious, insatiable desire to paint everything he sees ... "I want to express "- says again Devetag - "the joy that life can give to men alone who know how to live and appreciate all that the universe gives us ". Is this innocence? Or a residual breath of that eternal wisdom? Or does one of the two "images" still constitute for him, "innocent", a reserve of identity?