Each road is connected to its wayfarer
I met Gentili in Milan at the beginning of the Sixties.
Tall and bearded, enclosed inside a goat-white jumper that belonged to Battista, he spoke calmly yet with authority, accompanying his words with the ritual gestures of bony hands.
He was an ancient Oriental king, whom you could have seen three thousand years earlier between the Euphrates and the Tiger, in those lands made of Light.
It is in truth the Light, a metaphysical realisation of knowledge, which centrally makes its mark on all of Gentilis research.
Many people, with infinite works of infinite tendencies, have explored the earthly, the human during the last ten years but very few have explored the cosmic and the divine. There is, however, a great difference between the two. Formal experiences and aesthetic emotions that are foreign to the objectives followed on the opposite side, which we call ritual.
We can call the first profane, definable inside the cultural universe that is credited today, including the system of values that are part of it (the chain of artist gallery critic market museum, etc.). The profane holds formal experiences and strange aesthetic emotions that are contrary to the opposite side, namely ritual. Gentilis work moves inside this scenario, from which the values tied to religious experience, the economy of the sacred, the mystery of liturgy and mystic totality emerge.
The polemic prejudices of much criticism of the 20th Century, which can be compared to all the negativity that scientific rationality has produced in the West, have often made it difficult to isolate with serene evaluation, and propose to community, some spiritual moments of artistic language near the Oriental cultures.
For what Gentili has done and will do, it is not a question of distinguishing lines of tendency, figurative or abstract paintings.
Being his works either woofs of reflecting mirrors, structures of micro and macro universes or portraits, suns, moons, seasonal cycles, celestial mantles and angels: they always manifest a world that Gentili understands according to his personal spiritual interest.
For Gentili, the artist is a person, predestined to make clear the loving qualities of the heavenly heart; subjected to the painful dynamic creator held to transmuting the earthly nature of man in a heavenly light.
Starting from the earth and its seasons, from the experiences of men, Gentilis desire flies to exalt in the Spirit: or, as he himself says, in the supernature, in the Light of transcending worlds unutterable with common language: penetrable only with the symbolic and hermeneutic keys of initiation and artistic creation.
At an operative level, technical choices and the use of materials that were felt as not being specific for painting can be explained. The true creator, however, uses methods that are more congenial to his own intentions and more suitable for materialising them.
Why the mirror? Because the nature of this material-symbol brings nearer subject and object through direct perception, suggests the spiritual vision, allows the ladder of meanings relative to different levels of reality to be climbed, from the closed definitions of the concept to the open truths which stretch beyond reason.
It is worth remembering that according to Shinto tradition, the sacred mirror kept in the temple of Ise symbolised truth. The gods had made it because they wanted Amaterasu, Goddess of the Sun, who, in a moment of anger had closed herself in a grotto, to return light to the world. The Goddess, confusing her own light reflected in the mirror with a second sun, got curious and abandoned her dark abode.
In order to be what it reflects, the mirror highlights the road of knowledge more completely than reason ever can, it symbolizes the pure spirit as reflected by the absolute Being.
We can therefore read the end of Gentilis works with the words of a mystic Arab: Come, erroneous atoms, return to your centre and become the eternal mirror that you have seen .
PIETRO GENTILI AND CONTEMPORARY ART
Even if the works of Gentili, from an aesthetic-formal point of view, bring to mind Neoconcretism, Kinetic, Programmed art and Op-art, in reality they are very different because of the intimate desire of the artist to give concreteness to his need for spirituality through the use of colours and mirrors which assume a meaning that transcends objective reality to become, on the contrary, the witness of a whole interior world.
In fact, although his works have often been compared with a variation of geometric abstractism and which, in the past, figured in group exhibitions entitled with this artistic current (the use of geometric shapes is at the basis of this confusion), the return to radial, circular and polygon images can be explained by the need to turn to the ancient symbolism of numbers, which illustrate the origin of the manifestation: from one to the multiple to different.
It is not necessary, therefore, to reduce his works to simple studies of shape and perception because his works are always profound and elaborate, the result of long and intense meditation which have the aim to reunite the artist's soul with that of the divine world.
Nothing, therefore, in his works is casual or answers simple aesthetic needs.
For example, the variation of colour corresponds to different states of conscience; we therefore move from violent chromatic oppositions which remind us of the bipolarity of each manifestation, to clear, monochrome images which come closer to the splendid 'white rose' of Dante's paradise.
The result is that the colours which make up the artist's pallet take on a particular, sublime semantic content, all supported by spirituality and unconditioned love towards God and all His creations.
As an example, green represents the divine Spirit, therefore the essence of divine compassion; light blue and yellow, or mother Lights, respectively express unconditioned love of the celestial heart and love of the earthly heart, and all the possibilities of communication associated with intelligence and with all the idealities of the divine Spirit.
A constant element in the works of Gentili is the Light which converges to mark centrally all of his research. An important point is, therefore, the use of the mirror as a material-symbol which at first has a relief of tempera then it becomes the centralised point of light and shape which articulates a rhythm.
Tangent to the work of Gentili is astrological knowledge, intended as the antique science of the Ancients; the interest of the artist in this discipline goes back to his meeting with Denise Madin who became his astrology teacher and then his wife.
Conventionally the work of Gentili can be divided into four phases, each of which however is never abandoned completely during the years, but sometimes it presents itself again in the light of new expressive forms.
The first phase came between the end of the '50s and the beginning of the '60s with works which show a first approach to oriental philosophy and mysticism: works impregnated by rigour and essentiality are the result.
From the mid-60s the centre of his research became the POINT which, positioned along concentric routes creates irradiating circular shapes which lead, in the '70s, to a whole series of works entitled Sole (Sun).
At the same time as Suns, he developed a three-dimensional structure which included Scudi (Shields), made on modelled canvas, Moduli (Modules) with reflecting material and metals, and the Fiori del Cielo (Flowers of the Sky).
Around the '80s his works seemed to become astral symbols, in angelic presences, of which remain allusive appearances of wings. From here the whole series of Angels and Archangels, made up of intertwined wings, inspired by Christian mysticism but above all of the Middle East.
The last phase, around the '90s, led to a series of Doors, each of which is characterised by a vertical fissure or split in the middle of a table solved each time with different colours and surfaces.
Gentili is currently fulfilling a series of works in which the absolute characters of the research are once again light and colour. He is making use of poor everyday material such as bubble wrap for packaging, whose bubbles reproduce better the idea of water. This material is then made more precious with small fragments of gold foil, which contributes in giving the work that touch of light that is always present in the works of the artist.
Gentili's action in art is not only confined in creating paintings and sculptures. His jewellery, created during the period of his collaboration with the Florentine stylist Marucelli, is also very interesting, and proposes the themes and research of his pictorial works.
Pietro Gentili considers Art as a hymn to the Divine which in its social function should take human beings towards the sublime worlds of virtuality, the discovery of beauty, the exploration of the sky in its metaphysical role, the knowledge of Manhood, the perception of God in us. In this context we find that the construction of the Colle Oppio's Temples becomes an element of absolute union between the artist and Mother Earth.