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In times of social and political heat, times of disruption and changes, when all certainties disappear faster and faster in the rear view mirror, artists feel the need to reinvent their language to keep the admiration alive. But when society displays nothingness and incoherence, paint must seek for answers in its inner motifs, wandering within itself and its substance, aiming to rediscover its own authentic and independent value. 

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There was a time in Rome, during the 1980’s, when a variety of changes brought by political and social activism, allowed art to distance itself from its contemporary environment and initiate an intrinsic journey in the depths of its meanders. In this setting, Sandro Chia, an important figure of the famous Transavantgarde movement, gave birth to an authentic aesthetic, elevating painting once again to its role of pure expressiveness and storytelling; putting before us an imagery which nowadays still remains fresh, genuine and meaningful. 


Sandro Chia, Mosquito Hunter, 1988-89. Litograph on paper.


In Chia’s work, ancient and lost narrations find their way to express themselves to the contemporary viewer, through a remediation and transposition of a vocabulary of symbols and compositions which appears to be both referential and unique. Myths and customs embedded in the italian culture, gain new life in Sandro Chia’s paintings, by being manipulated and transposed into a new context, giving the artist a form of unprecedented freedom to express his own inventory of forms. Violent brushstrokes, powerful colour palettes and primitive shapes find themselves combined in an extremely effective imagery, which uses authentic substantiality and figurativism to communicate to the abstract and insubstantial society of the 1980’s. The distance that the artist feels towards his environment and its structures, can be fulfilled as Chia states himself, by the act of “painting for the sake of the painter himself”.


Sandro Chia, Bread/Wine. Litograph on paper.


Painting is one of those spiritual, mental and even physical territories that I find reassuring - it allows us to place ourselves in the most original, primordial dimension, close to the essence - and at the same time disturbing: it allows one to feel at home, but in a home where his belonging must always be renegotiated”.

A research that places itself close to the essence, to the pureness within the act of expression, enhancing the value of authenticity and truthfulness as key components to reach emancipation, and giving the painter the opportunity to keep up with the thrill, and dive into the sometimes impervious adventure that comes alongside any artistic experimentation. 

Sandro Chia truly embodies the imperative genuineness that is needed to keep the euphoria and the enthusiasm alive, living and painting heartened  by the understanding that, as Jean Baudrillard said: “it is difficult to maintain the bright flash of surprise, difficult to keep things in their meaningfulness. They never last longer than they happen”.


   Sandro Chia, Il Pittore ed il Suo Tappeto, 2005. Oil on canvas.


Sandro Chia, Painter with Sons and Frog, 2000. Oil on canvas.


Cover image: Sandro Chia, Figures in the Woods, 1996. Aquatint.

Written by Mario Rodolfo Silva

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