One could say that contemporary art is searching for new alphabets, that none of the existing ones are adequate for directly expressing the word, or the silence of our times; the lead soldering of these compositions by Mario De Leo indeed communicate the immediate sensation of being a script; punctuation or Morse code or perhaps signs of musical rigour, notes of an unknown music. Gleaming points, ever projected in a vertical tensions, fan out in an alternation of rhythms and pauses in which the silence is no less important than the sound. The streamlined cone that is actually created in the space of the work has for the artist the role of a probe in the process of capturing sounds and words that perhaps wander the cosmos; at times directed towards the depths, to give three dimensionality to a surface that is otherwise flat, embellished by refined or even precious colours, the cone, in its elegance, well suits the poor and technological materials: with the lead and the torn cardboard, almost as if excavated, revealing underlying layers of coarse material. Here too in this cycle of Punti Ascensionali, De Leo again returns, at times only allusively, to printed circuits, as ever inexhaustible source of inspiration for the work of an artist, objects of modernity perhaps already things of the past, already sinking into the realm of industrial archaeology.
It appears that the artist wishes to find a point of reconciliation between tradition and the avante garde, that in his work takes on a double attempt of recovery: to save elements of ancient painting, the secrets of a painting skill that today risk being forgotten, while giving life and sense to the materials produced and then jettisoned by industrial civilisation. In their essentiality, these compositions are the synthesis of demands that are apparent opposites: blendings of poetry and technology, riches and poverty, of sounds and silence; the luminosity of gold, light blue and pink, the soft purity of white, that evokes limitless spatiality, encounter with coarse materials, with objects created with utilitarian intent and certainly not for decoration. Different components concur in De Leo’s artistic discourse, in his painting that also participates in the nature of relief: some associated with his Pugliese origins – the Byzantine spirituality and Germanic rigour, the sense of decoration that in the said period often features in the art of southern Italy -, others related to his cultural background, that took place in the field of informal art; from whence springs his constant work on the sign and on the material, and in particular his love for the work of Lucio Fontana, investigated and re-evoked in its most important aspects.
The circuits, objects in themselves indecipherable, that though appear undoubtedly constructed following an absolute, rigorous need, the mysterious and inevitable traces of the threads, the pattern of the points, have become a recurrent them, a leitmotif of De Leo’s work, that all the same in time have taken on aspects that are notably different at least if one limits oneself to a superficial observation. The magic of art, the alchemy the formula of which is still unknown to all, even to the artist who is working the same, is born out of the work of delving and assembling, of pitting oneself up against or plying the material, but is also created out of the spontaneity of play, with the naturalness of he who is capable of weaving a spell while at the same time spellbound, of he who still knows how to dream, to sweep across that cosmos that is our true home, in that solitude where song can expand freely, purifying and almost distilling the materiality of the world.
Marina De Stasio