In the heart of the matter (M. Calvesi)

The stones, meteor fragments and geodes that inspire Sanna are among the most fixed and motionless things we can think of; yet, the artist takes on the challenge of weight and inertia so as to capture, even within these apparently most static of forms, that vital essence of movement, which is in fact his imagination’s leitmotif. This movement is reproduced by the planes, which crumble like foliating concretions, and obviously by light, which defines a pulsating space by alternating with darker spots and seeking the mediation of grey. Within this space, the planes move backward and forward, and are articulated according to a “universal” dynamism which, though recalling its remote source in Boccioni, remains far from any human interference. It is a dynamism contemplated in the heart of matter, or better, in a primordial, still uninhabited world, which is its own sole spectator.

Sanna is considered an abstract painter not because of a gradual renunciation of the figure but because his imaginary universe is a pristine one, where no figure has yet left its shadow and where the life principle floats in its mysterious and pure essence. Though his paintings sometimes take their titles from dances, the rhythms they evoke can be perceived just as well in the most inanimate stony landscapes, in magnetic fields, in water flux, in the dance of pollens moved by the wind, and even in that subtle animation of corpuscles driven by light’s wave in the composition entitled Byzanthium. This work conjures up the luminous magic of a mosaic, which, composed of small, light-infused stones, may well be one of Sanna’s favourite forms of ancient art.

Even when matter assembles and disintegrates in various ways – in wider layers or sharper foils, with a more substantial vibration – the rhythm does not diminish, but rather intensifies, its frequency. It either beats and scatters the forms or presses into them, as can be seen in the most recent compositions, which resemble metallic flowers opening up to the sweet violence of insemination, or strange stars freely fallen to our planet, bringing with them the hissing of spaces yet unattainable by man.


Maurizio Calvesi

Professor Emeritus of Art History “La Sapienza” University, Rome

A Parallel World (A. Monferini)

On the crowded contemporary artistic scene, the latest generations appear ever-increasingly invested with a globalyzing  intention which  results in homology and  makes any expression conform  to fashionable stereotypes. Sandro Sanna  constitutes a rare and peculiar exception to this;  an artist, we could say, against the mainstream.

From Sardinia, his native land,  he arrives in Rome in 1964, when a  bright  sparkling  and innovative artistic season is in its heyday.  But Sanna, born in 1950, belongs to a generation already very remote from the playful and optimistic vitalism characterising the early sixties in Rome, led by figures like Schifano, Festa, Ceroli, Pascali.

His training is completed between 1968 and 1977, a decade marked by the angry explosion of youth movements, by their revolt both against the  notion of culture and the institutions  – school,  university – supposed to produce it.  In the same period Sanna, besides painting,  is teaching and is  therefore in  direct touch with all this.

His first  solo exhibition is held in 1979: the works on display  already reveal  signs  of that  autonomy of vision which is  his painting’s  distinctive character. The  malaise of those troubled years leads to a systematic revision of all received values and to a still unfulfilled search for new cultural and existential landmarks. In this climate Sanna  sets up his own project for an alternative “reality”, open also to the virtual and the cybernetic.

An amiable,   reserved  and yet sociable person, Sanna lives surrounded by the appraisal and affection of many friends, artists  and painters. As far as his research is concerned, though, he remains an unrivalled loner, defending his autonomy in a highly concentrated isolation.

Some have talked of his painting as of a “ sour, stark, austere” choice;  there is an undeniable truth in the definition, since his painting shuns all sorts of lure, it avoids  pursuing either the colour’s sensual appeal or  trimness as end in itself, and never yields  to the easy blinking of  the deliberately uncommitted and light-hearted current poetics.

On the contrary, according to Sanna, art still retains a cognitive and ethic purpose. In his view painting is  probably the only form of knowledge capable of stirring a deep meditation on reality.  The image’s allusive strength, combined with a formal equivalent  which widens and enhances its message,  points a way out  for the  present sense of loss. It is a disorientation paradoxically intensified by the pressing  developments of science, which  have shown  the limits of human knowledge  when it faces the mysterious nature of things. Old and recurrent questions are still unanswered and the world looks more impenetrable to us now  than to the naive  but then plausible explanations attempted by ancient philosophies.

Experience has anyhow taught us that the nature of things is  different from what  it appears and that in any  part or element there are different aspects and truths: this  makes up their richness and complexity of meaning.

The original imagination   brought  into play  by the artist takes, therefore, the shape of  single wide and organic project,  though divided in a series of iconographic themes  in which the distance between subjects is only apparent. These austere scenographies are actually the different faces of a single  recurring theme which is the ground of Sanna’s inspiration: the  world’s elusive and dark nature,  an inexhaustible  source of new and surprising sights.

The “Stones”, looming up against a dark backdrop and offering their chipped bodies to the light, are lithic instrument belonging to  prehistoric civilisation; but   close range  observation has magnified their structure, transforming them in impending presences which emerge  from time’s indistinct magma as  if reawakening from a long  sleep.

To the “Stones” series are connected the “Geodes”, concretions of bright crystals  whose golden blades emerge from the bosom of an unknown matrix  and interlock in unusual volumetries combining light and shadow, black and gold.  Fiery flashes  burst out in darting trajectories and slash the darkness of the visual field.

Both series refer to the central nucleus of Sanna’s poetics and concern the  enigma of life and of  its origin. While  the Stones’ monolithic volumetry  hints at a primordial and disquieting element, the Geodes call up the dynamic  form of becoming,  and evoke the mysterious energy  pervading the universe.

The violent juxtaposition of these splinters  of light, which rebound  with ever-increasing rhythms  off the inert  and  dark mass of the background, results in a further  step towards more complex  aggregations of forms. The figures acquire a more pronounced plasticity, producing  an original in the round effect. These are  the latest “ Plastic forms” and “Meteors”.

“Meshes and drifts, water walls”  is the title of a sequence based on another primary element of vital importance: water,   whose form is  indeterminate. These are large, almost monochrome compositions, balanced on a blue-grey rippled by imperceptible luminous frequencies which make the surface vibrate. On these huge screens a close grid of undulated filaments suggests the   liquid’s constant flow on a wall. The painting breaks the rules of traditional space; it is an unlimited and indeterminate field, no landmarks to define it. The image offers itself as a work in progress, an event just taking place.

But the most intense allusiveness and the highest indeterminacy of the subject are achieved in the work entitled “Byzanthium”: three large canvas paged  one next to the other to form a triptych.  Golden corpuscles like mosaic tesserae in relief are scattered on  backdrops discolouring  from the dark grey to the almost black. In the central panel these  small tesserae  are regularly spaced out,  composing a neat luminous punctuation. But in the two side panels the punctiform warp is subverted, as if a sudden gust of wind had swept the tesserae downwards, heaping them up in a  thick and heterogeneous mass.

Stillness, order and stability are thus transformed into their opposite: fields at the mercy of magnetic pulls  impossible to resist. Flashes of skimming light  unveil in the short  trails and shadows the traces of the corpuscles’ movement  while they run yieldingly towards a mysterious pole of attraction.

Pointed out by quick  flashes, like lightening  in a storm, tensions radiate from the surface, while at intervals the background darkness deepens in thicker shadows.

Useless, I believe,  the effort to identify in these fascinating and enigmatic  sets  any element  traceable back to a  definite experience, let alone iconography. They can indifferently  refer either to a universe map  and to the unknown forces determining its movement, or to enlarged photographs of experiments on corpuscular matter and its  force of attraction.

Not only has the artist deliberately dropped any observation of known reality, but he has also renounced any tried and tested style. He has coined a new glossary for imagination  by building up an alternative fantastic world, free from  the hierarchy of signs and conventional languages.

The need to make a clean sweep of the past can be perceived in Sanna’s solitary and radical research of a new style and perception. At the same time there is an attempt to reshape an  imaginary  “elsewhere”, more apt to record  the experiences, dreams and aims of a generation like his, which has grown up with television and has answered  its incessant picture bombing by developing a sharper perception;  a generation which lives the first computer revolution and at the same sees an uncertain, hopeless horizon  ahead..

Painting can then play, according to Sanna,  the role  of a parallel world, capable of expressing  the yet undetermined novelties which the future has in store.

“Contemporary man – writes Umberto Eco reporting Marshal McLuhan’s thought – caught in a net of visual and aural messages attacking him from all sides, relives the whole universe of news  surrounding him as if it were a sort of primitive village, and he becomes responsible for it all. The mass communication era would not  be, therefore, only an age of dissipation, but of concentration as well. Two are the consequent  types of behaviour: some are  incapable to decipher the world’s  theatre and shut their eyes  to the chaos, others manage to read it and  formulate their answer”.  The last one seems to be Sanna’s case.


                                                                                                 Augusta Monferini

A Different Order (J. Yau)

Sandro Sanna is a contemporary artist whose paintings don’t fit comfortably into any of the contemporary trends. This doesn’t mean that he is stricken with a deep nostalgia for a golden age of art or that he is trying to revive a familiar style, because he isn’t. His art is very much of this time, which is also our troubling present. His relationship to his peers is somewhat akin to the one Alfred Jensen (1903-1982) had to both the Abstract Expressionists and the younger generation that included the Minimalists and Conceptualists. A consummate high-minded modernist, Jensen never tried to make paint become paint, as did many painters who took their cue from Jackson Pollock. He showed that there were other ways to be both for and against Pollock. For Jensen, who was influenced by Goethe’s color theory, paint was both colored dirt and light, and each could become the other. Often containing numbers and writing, his densely patterned, checkerboard paintings are diagrams full of arcane knowledge and mathematics that the artist gleaned from his long study of Mayan and Egyptian counting systems. Jensen was preoccupied with the relationship between light and matter, both as fact and revelation. It was this preoccupation that propelled him from painting to painting, as well as isolated him from his contemporaries.

Sanna is equally preoccupied with the relationship between light and matter, but the way he configures their relationship and thus their meaning is very different from Jensen’s seemingly more benign understanding. The most telling difference is that Jensen’s cosmology is made up of tactile, prismatic colors and black and white, while Sanna’s is an uninhabited, unfamiliar world made up of unearthly light and shade. Jensen’s cosmology leads to speculating about the nature of infinity, while Sanna’s brings the viewer into close proximity with an alien world that is forming and crumbling, accreting and eroding. Sanna evokes a world that is simultaneously solid and metaphysical, unadorned and immediate. Like Jensen, it is clear that all of Sanna’s decisions arise out of an unwavering belief in a complex, self-contained and self-sustaining cosmology. As it should be, the evidence of his belief is in the work itself.

Sanna’s ambitious project is to both establish and explore the distinguishing particularities of a self-sustaining alternative reality. This reality is constructed from light and shade. It ranges between a mineral black and cold lunar white or it is made of shades that go from gold to light. It evokes crystals (that perfect synthesis of the geometric and the organic), mirrors (their suggestion of infinity), and reflections (perfect, empty copies). It is a barren world where nothing grows (except perhaps the geometric forms themselves), and where there are no signs of life. The light that animates this world is remote and hidden, as well as cold and inhospitable. The colors of the world it illuminates and reflects do not come from nature. The world Sanna makes visible operates according to its own incomprehensible laws. While Boccioni is a very distant ancestor, Sanna’s world is both colder and more disquieting than anything the Futurist dreamed up. For one thing, Sanna makes no reference to culture or its machines.

Because of the thoroughness of Sanna’s formal approach, our relationship to the multi-faceted, asymmetrical planes and deep crevices of his alternative world remains unclear. Are we looking at a mineral world under a high-powered microscope or do these metallic forms dwarf us? Where are these tetrahedronal forms located? Where did they come from? The cropping prevents us from getting a more inclusive view, as well as helps establish a claustrophobic state. In a sense, we cannot step back from this world, cannot get a vantage point to see its topography. Thus, we do not know whether these angular, geometric forms were made by natural forces or by some life force. Yes, there is an element of science fiction that runs through Sanna’s paintings, but never in a way that is overt or theatrical. If anything, the paintings are austere and restrained.

Sanna’s paintings evoke mosaics, those bits of light-sensitive stones. But it’s as if they have become immense fragments of a monolithic presence. Or it’s as if we have penetrated a geode and are now living inside a completely mineral world. And yet, at the same time, one senses that these divided, faceted, asymmetrical spaces are cathedrals, hallowed places ruled by a deep, unforgiving silence. So we are both in a place that we somehow cannot enter, the space being physically too shallow, and we are outside a form whose crevices may open out onto infinity. Neither viewpoint completely suppresses the other. Instead, we are left in a state of disquieting contemplation.

The other feeling Sanna’s faceted forms, and their asymmetrical relationship, convey is a light that is falling, breaking apart, reflecting and mirroring. But above all else, the cold wintry light infuses the paintings with an otherworldliness that is both complete and disturbing. Arriving from an unknown and hidden source, the falling and reflecting light shapes a world that is dark and cold. Becoming blade-like, it sharpens the edges of the forms, and imparts a sense of danger. It also divides and shatters the space into interlocking, reflecting planes. Thus, there is the light coming from within the paintings and the light reflected and absorbed by faceted surfaces. This outside light keeps changing as we move in front of the paintings; it becomes heightened. In Metallica Lunare, 2003, one cannot tell which of the forms is matter and which might be anti-matter. Is the light coming from behind a solid form or is it being pulled toward a black hole? What about the light playing on the painting’s surface? It is a world in which we have lost our ability to distinguish between what is solid and what is immaterial, what is fiction and what is real.

Sanna’s cosmology is not fixed, but is one that is unfolding in time, revealing more of itself to both the artist and to us. At a time when the vastness of the universe becomes more apparent, and scientists now believe that water once flowed across Mars, Sanna’s recognition of otherworldliness becomes increasingly relevant. One senses that these paintings aren’t windows, that the world, and its blade-like edges, are pressing relentlessly forward and are threatening to rupture the picture separating here from there. With each passing day, the world they make apparent grows less distant, though no less disquieting. One day, in what the poet and essayist Christopher Dewdney calls the “post-human era,” the cold light we encounter in these hermetic universes may well have become all too familiar, and their present will become both inclusive and ours.


John Yau

Maryland Institute, College of Art

Sanna or about Maieutics (M. Calvesi)

(In Sandro Sanna “Metallica” – Cam Editrice catalogue, Rome 2003)

Seduced by some of Sanna’s works, I ask him which is the origin and the meaning of “Lo specchio dei pianeti a uno a uno” (The mirror of the planets one by one) and “L’inno notturno della roccia” (The nocturnal hymn of the rock), or why Rock in English.

He does not look reluctant in front of these “invading” questions, to which other artist would have answered with acrobatics of evasive words.

The source of the titles is the poetry of faith, which, when authentic, needs to be exposed: Sanna believes in poetry as in the observation point of the world, removed from the clouds, it is the most accurate seismograph of its mystery.

The Rock is the title of a section of a book by Wallace Stevens, which contains the very lines quoted above, in a poem which starts with these disturbing lines:

“ The rock is the gray detail of a human’s life

The stone from which he raises, always upwards,

Step to the dark depths to which he descends.”

And he continues: “The rock is home to the whole, / Its force and measure…”

The paintings of the series of geodes and rocks, show in the same time the darkness of night and the need of light.  The series which climaxes in the explicit theme of the Cosmogony, as the painter called one of his gigantic painting made of parts aggregated like layers of rock, dangerously suspended in a rotation motion which reminds the principle of rotation, upon which the equilibrium of the whole Universe is based.  This is the theatre of our amazement, the boundless image of our being and becoming ourselves, the silent unfolding of a story about spaces where we can well be absent, in the midst of our occupations, but which always recalls us at the same point of the question with sudden startles, to nail us to the vanity of our proceeding.  That very question mark is continuously dormant in any uncertainty of our perceptions, especially when they meet, if only on a starry night, with a “boundless” vastness of the sky.  This is when our “measurement”, our meters and solid reference points vanish.

Sanna’s works call our attention to this disturbing uncertainty of measures attentively but symbolically altered, where inclined planes intersect one another to remind inexistent depth, with shimmering lights which violently tear the night apart but don’t dissipate the mistery.

The new series of works (Metallica, as the title of this exhibition), removes the most harsh angles of the rock, to articulate in a vertical game of ins and outs surfaces where a dimmer light is reflected.  The new delicacy, the elongated and elegant profiles do not trigger the alarm of the shapes, perceptively insidious, not anymore coherent in a pile, but each of them detached in its own fragile equilibrium, leaning in such a way as to transfer the movement into anguished thoughts.

The encounters of surfaces turn in some cases – in spite of the metal tension of the material – more similar to unreliable castles in playing card.  The refined theme of reflexes fringes the edges with accents of refined lightness but, in the same time, swallows the mysterious structure of the forms in an even more ambiguous fluid depth, which points out the effect of suspension and may transfer the lightness into heaviness.

Weather the reflexes are actually produced by shimmering slabs or mimicked by the paintbrush, this is part of the game of interchanges between reality and appearances which Sanna conducts with the skill of a master and the maieutics of a philosopher, which leads us to discover the gaps of our horizons.


Maurizio Calvesi

The pathway of the golden lamas (L. Canova)

(In Sandro Sanna “Metallica” – Cam Editrice catalogue, Rome 2003)

The works of Sandro Sanna delight the viewer with images where the theme of reflexion and the mirror effect are taken to the limits of their possibility to create illusions, where the light turns into a relentless “medium” of a repeated illusion to the expense of our view.

In the new series “Metallica”, Sanna has performed a total decomposition or the visual data, proposing a kind of parallel universe where the coordinates of the space look distorted and altered by the ineffable of new mathematic models which pervade the accomplishment of the painting.

It looks however certain how Sanna’s previous works (although founded on embryonic ideas of a tendency to extreme illusionism), where however conceived on a partly traditional structure, even if it is built as an open window towards the shapes of a different and unpredictable reality.

However, in these works, Sanna pushed himself even further, taking to the extreme consequences his long pictorial discourse and re-coding the same construction of the object-painting, in canvas built as installations where the traditional order looks broken and distorted by a new expression, by a syntax in which geometry seems subject to rigid rules of a mysterious poetic will, to rigid percepts of an unknown harmony.

The previous series of Sanna like Byzantium, Geodes, Drifting, Mirror of Planets and The Wind of Pollen, seem to have been so absorbed by an essential synthesis where everything seems moved by a new poetry, by a cruel and lyric sense of  constructing the images, that it looks like they are born following the nocturnal harmony of a barbaric and gloomy song, the rhythm of the lines drawn to accompany the ordered chaos of a remote cosmogony.

But the artist is not only willing to give life to unacceptable appearance of an alternative world, to create the foundation of new rules of perception: maybe Sanna tries to be the helmsman which drives his audience in the night through absurd and magnificent buildings, inside shimmering palaces erected in dangerous and unreal landscapes, but yet splendid and governed by cruel laws.

In this way, the lights of the works appear transformed by a evasive movements, by a metamorphosis which slips any definition.  This seems to have amplified their existence and enriched their structure with dark and elusive touches, with low acoustics which amplify their sounds and echoes in the obscure immensity of dark seas crossed by shimmering lights and sparks.

The viewer, like the foreigner in a lonely land, finds himself prisoner of flashing corridors and gleaming halls, condemned to wander in a labyrinth of perspective trapdoors, in a cruel meander built to the bewilderment of the uninitiated traveler and of the unaware observer, convinced to cross that unknown and risky borderline.

An icy premonitory gust, a cold breath of steel and stone, cross these primitive and contrived spaces, tempted to enchant with suggestions of visual splendor to seduce afterwards with the gentle and pointed arms of illusion.

Sanna constructed in this way a refined and rigorous installation, conceived as a perfect mechanism of an imminent trap, a forest of gold and fire crossed by a narrow path of sharp blades, at the end of which the viewer reaches his inevitable destiny of damnation or salvation.

Lorenzo Canova

Bisantium (L. Meneghelli)

(In Sandro Sanna “Bisanzio” – solo show catalog, Giulia Gallery, Rome 1994).

Beyond theoretical strictness: beyond tautological ostentation of elementary traits of painting (color, sign, surface): beyond painting in order to study painting.  And still minimal excitements of the glance, symptoms of the dawn of image, expressive understatement.  Surfaces and slender depths grasped by “golden nails”: without mundane winking (of chthonic crystal or sidereal rhythms), but simple localization of a spatial simultaneity, protrusions (or cavities) which point back and forth to a nocturnal matter, which retracts and expands in an infinity of heart beats (1).

Points, but not boundaries, which would be measure of horizons, of broken space.  Sanna’s painting, on the contrary, pretends to be that horizon and nothing else: opened, without boundaries: even if not to be completed like a map of the stars (Luciano Fabbro’s way: a man who calculates the distances between stars, looking for his own habitat in the universe: in front, backwards, to the right, to the left), reaching point to be followed in its ambiguous extension.  Ambiguous, not only as subject to the laws of dynamics (of dense, diffuse obscurity), but also as work of breathes of physiologic clarity which dare to impersonate themselves: and thus a proposition of a tale, and accent of formality.

But the problem is not about reality (of reference), but rather about the negation of truth: it is about materials which strike other materials, to the complete exhaustion, until they conceal one another: or a question of their perpetual defining and redefining, of their interaction which makes the surfaces a place of the things to be, a place of pure indetermination.  This is worth not for what it offers (affirms), but for what it leaves to be seen.  As Merleau-Ponty says: “any painting opens a visual field which then overtakes” (2).  In Sanna also, any surface leads beyond itself.  It is a physical factor which presents itself as metaphysical.  It is a presence which insinuates the hypothesis of absence.  Everything is there and in the same time everywhere else.  Art of the past and of the passer by.  Chain process revealed by successive actions, which leave trace in the traces. Multiple space (stratified) with their internal time, their continuous return (winding) on itself, without reaching the authentic ending (that of a real stand still).  Space of different hopes, which equal the ones of Cezanne, who sees the continuous loss of the theme to which he turns back again and again, even if, in the end, the only thing recorded is the loss of it.

It is like saying that, here, the will insist, to radicalize (constructing, filling in, canceling) does not lead to visual barriers, but to a sort of vastness, of unbounded space, of nowhere.  Because the signs do not multiply the meanings (the denotations): rather multiply the signs and move away the meanings.  And if in many of Sanna’s past works the surface was almost unveiling its own soul, by letting itself be crossed by beams of light, unveiling the very night of creation, now the sources of light are minimized, between the idea of knob (external point) and the idea of breach (intimate opening).  And if there, the chromatic elements were dragged out of the background to float like drifting icebergs, in this case the golden facets give way to a paradox: on one hand beats of continuous regeneration, on the other hand light depths, give the sense of pause, of material void. It is a kind of “static dynamism”, incredible still movement, movement on itself, resumed in a nucleus of luminous energy.  Bergsonian “vital leap” and “duration”, contracted in a unique signal, which touches, shakes, enchants in the way the “concise” testimony of a fall of Fontana do.  It is also true that the Italian-Argentinean artist  throws himself into “restless gesture, zeal, skill, illusion, love of life in the tight void” (3): but Sanna also gives a kind of hazarded attack, to grasp the astonishment of the moment, minimal traps which shaken the whole imaginative surface.

As a matter of fact, one of Sanna’s objectives was to create a feeling of restlessness and perceptive instability: an ever-changing painting according to the impact of light and the angles of observation.  If in his previous works there was the inside matter of the work of art to perform this task, through the material which opened its depth to the viewer allowing the light not only to emerge but even to become the gap between things, in his last works, the minute facets shiver the outer layer of the painting, without touching and dismantling it.  However these traces of slight clutter limit the space until it can no longer be stationary: but without tearing it apart, without gigantic gestures, without signs in immersion/surfacing, simply by declaring themselves: gold and darkness, lights, nothing else but lights, shimmering dust which glows in the dark, nothing else but darkness.  A constraint, gathering, submersion and germination (origin, Orient): infinitely small incidents, for a maximum alteration of perception.


Luigi Meneghelli


COSMOGONY 2001 (A. Monferini)

(In Sandro Sanna “Cosmogonia”– solo show catalog, d’AC, Ciampino 2001).

Cosmogony 2001 is the title given by the author to the imposing installation which dominates the exhibition and which is accompanied by a group of previous works, linked to this work by figures and shapes in closer poetic and imaginative connection.  A series of designs recreate the process of maturity of the work in its essential stages.

The powerful structure extends on the wall for over 5 meters and reaches the height of over four and a half meters.  It is built as a mosaic, containing seventy canvases 50×60 cm each, distributed on seven rows by ten.  Each row is slightly pushed forward compared to the one underneath and, on each row, the ten paintings arranged gradually in a staircase shape.  It turns out an arrangement in false steps, which creates a small rectangular inner-space, at the confluence of any painting with the one above it, as well as the one beneath; the translation of the alignments develops a complex rhombic shape with two sliding sides.

While the horizontal rows tend to slide downwards to suggest a slow but almost relentless fall, the vertical sequences register, in their profiles, a lateral movement.  This double motion confers to the whole a slight rotation on itself.  Suspended in equilibrium in the air, the structure winds up in its own self a continuously refreshing rhythm of time and movements.  The dimension space – time, as the artist observes, resolves itself “in a unique vortex, simultaneous expression of past and present”.

The clear, rectangular surface of the wall on which the work is exposed, serves as neutral and stable level, which allows to perceive the entity of confusion and at times, the sliding towards an indefinite space.

Other virtuosities enter the game of perceptive incitement used by Sanna to enrich the sense of animation which pervades the structure.  The plot of the square shapes, ordered geometrically, decomposes by effect of a changing light.

On the upper side and along the sides, a soft and warm light wraps up the surfaces which retreat in deep shadows; at times the surfaces seem to stretch out, exposing dazzling sharp blades. At times, shiny trajectories cut the spaces in half orienting them in opposite directions.

The structure is a lively, pulsating tissue.  The light is the primary element of an artist’s the formal code, which assumes the direction and measures up its intensity: it allows pauses of silence, interrupted by the acceleration of the rhythm with  trajectories turned into electric impulses which discharge in instant explosions; it speeds up the strong tension which crosses the structure and changes the tectonics with a hectic and ever-changing rhythm, or it continuously modifies the trajectories.  Tangent luminosities coming from above or from inside the pleas of the canvas, destroy the shadow which darkens the plot, and liberate its breath.

An area of peculiar dynamic excitement crosses in an instant the lower side: it is a sequence of “geodes” in rapid succession which move downwards in a frenetic race. The splinted bodies point their crests to irradiate beams of light; their edges oriented in any direction vary the rhythmic cadences.

In Sanna’s visual glossary the “geodes” are figures which the artist proposes, in an infinity of varieties.  These are constitutive elements of his figurative alphabet depending on a formal and particularly intense system of signs.  In this case, the stripe of “geodes” in the bejeweled bodies confirms the sense of fall already announced by the oblique shape of the diamond.

Specifically, the “geode” is the active interpret of a concept of painting which tends to the embodiment of the sculpture, to the space in which the fortunate combination of the two arts confers them the original force of expression.

Sanna’s paradoxical challenge is to reach this result (to give body to the picture) not by using bodies of matter, but rather that apparently immaterial element which is light.  If we observe the artist’s way, we discover the obstinate work he dedicated to elaborate shapes which suggest the weight, the profile and the plastic quality of the matter, starting with the totemic Rocks.

Giving light to a personal minimalist tendency, Sanna operates an extreme reduction of color.  Not only has he banned the colors which mime nature, but he pushed himself to preserve the only two original elements of the color: shade and light, drastically purging the varieties of the tone.  With a multiplicity of combinations of shade and light, Sanna builds its own universe.  From dark depths to the gold which becomes mobile beam of light.

The painting reveals a philosophy of light, as immaterial object which confers shape and color to anything it touches, matter – antimatter which pervades the whole, light as the essence which bares life, warmth and movement: finally a divine essence.

It is not, in the end, only a formal choice, even if dictated by a transcendental and metaphysical vision.  It is the artist himself who mimes the very act of the creator, while the art becomes the instrument which reveals the very essence of the world.  Sanna’s painting, even in its abstract arrangement, is not one which would not want to “mean”: but in highly poetic images looks for objective answers to important questions.  The same title, Cosmogony 2001 confers its meditative orientation, meant to the (mystical?) pursuit of the origins.

Confronted by these fundamentals, the same science is forced to admit its own failure, and however it could not boast to be more reliable than the artistic intuition.  As Nicola Abbagnano wrote, concerning the modern theories on the origin of the world, it’s about “non verifiable or falsifiable postulates” which “cannot be translated into verified statements”.   Their visions are based on ideas “not less metaphysical than the incorruptibility of the skies of Aristotelian memory”.

The darkness in which we are immerged, lights the fantasy of those who, like Sanna, put themselves in front of such important themes.  He tries to exorcize the dismay of the unknown by impersonating a parallel world of shapes and surreal images which in their precision and formal truthfulness become concrete as a model.


Augusta Monferini