«The avant-garde, with all its ideas, has committed
a great violence against the artist by depriving him of
iconography, the essential element of his language.
Now we are in a situation similar to the one that existed
after the invention of writing. Oral communication
has lost life, and men have lost an important means of
expressing themselves.» Enzo Cucchi, 1981
Enzo Cucchi (1949)
Enzo Cucchi was born in 1949 in Morro d‘Alba, a farming village in the province of Ancona
in central Italy. As an autodidactic painter Cucchi won different prices already in his early
years even though he was more interested in poetry at the time. He frequently visited
poet Mino De Angelis, who was in charge of the magazine Tau. Through La Nuova
Foglio di Macerata, a small publishing house, he met with art critic Achille Bonito Oliva,
an important figure in the artist‘s prospective career. In its catalogues, La Nuova Foglio
di Macerata published writings of artists such as Cucchi's Il veleno è stato sollevato e
trasportato! in 1976. Frequent trips to Rome in the mid-seventies revived Cucchi‘s
interest in visual arts. He moved to Rome, temporarily abandoned poetry and dedicated
himself exclusively to the visual arts. Here Cucchi met with different artists such as
Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Mimmo Paladino and Nicola de Maria with whom he
began to work in close contact and to establish dialectical and intellectual dialogues.
Achille Bonito Oliva was the first to see this young generation of Italian artists of the
seventies as a group: in Flash Art Magazine, no. 92-93, 1979, he used the term
«Trans-avantguardia» for the first time. The official proclamation of the Transavantguardia
took place at the Venice Biennial of 1980. The term wsas an idiom for the
art of this young generation following the Avant-garde of the sixties. These artists
no longer seeked to evoke discomfort in the spectator by all means and to force him to
go beyond the work to grasp it fully. This new generation did not follow the restless
quest for progress that did not allow any consideration of past traditions and for devising
a language with which artists could state their attitude, opposing the current political
system and society‘s deceasing values.
The members of the Trans-avantguardia may have nothing in common but their
native country–as it seems—since each artist has his own working method: there are
neither rules nor any binding language of expression. Nevertheless we can find
fundamental bridging elements such as motifs gathered from imaginable reality and the
free use of past and present with no preclusion but with references open to all directions
without any constrictions and with no obligation to invent anything new. Every artist found
his own way to create images/works as ciphers with an open symbolism, enigmas with
any solution or with various solutions. Cucchi radicalises painting practice, taking the
picture as an opportunity to accumulate and combine various elements, figurative and
abstract, explicit and allusive. He develops his own specific kind of symbolism with
suggestive forms which are mostly somehow linked with the landscape, the legends and
the traditions of his home-region but also through a rapturous richness of colour. Hence
some works may evoke old myths and legends, but Cucchi uses them only to express
his feelings and imaginations. Cucchi obtains a suggestive strength from nature, history
and culture, which he shows in a playful relationship with our technical world, using
«symbols» like a train or an ocean-liner and employing colour in terms of idea,
expansion and motion rather than for pictorial sensation. Cucchi allows his image total
freedom of movement in all directions. Evoking astonishment and confusion, Cucchi
does not aim to name, quote or prove anything, his pictorial language may be related
only to his personal wishes, dreams and hopes while at the same time he experiences
with the impetus of anonymity and of the impersonal.
His artwork is often accompanied by poetic texts some of which have been published.
In the late 1970s, Cucchi’s highly original work conspicuously stood out in a scene
dominated by conceptual art. Art critic and dealer Mario Diacono supported him by
exhibiting his work in Italy and the United States. Since 1979 Cucchi has maintained a
co-operative relationship with gallery owner Emilio Mazzoli in Modena and between 1981
and 1985 also Gian Enzo Sperone frequently exhibited Cucchi‘s work in his galleries in
Rome and New York. Consequently his experimental expressionist style gradually
became influential whereas he set out to expand the material qualities in his art by
painting or drawing directly on walls, using ceramics, mosaic or painted images as a part
of sculpture and by creating free installation spaces.
From the beginning of the eighties on, Cucchi has been gaining international recognition
as a representative of the new figurative expression. Aside from the numerous Transavantguardia-
group-exhibitons, he had one-man-shows in galleries, museums and cultural sites all over the world .
Cucchi‘s varied interests have led him beyond the bounds of ordinary exhibitions. He has
made outdoor sculptures for the Bruglinger Park in Basel in 1984, and the Louisiana
Museum in Humblebaek, Denmark in 1985, a fountain for the garden of the Museo
d’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato in 1988 and the Fontana d‘Italia at York
University in Toronto. Between 1992 and 1994 he collaborated with architect Mario Botta
on the chapel built on Monte Tamaro near Lugano, Switzerland, where Cucchi assisted
with designing the interior of the chapel, mainly the main altar and the executed murals
for the apse and nave. Cucchi enjoys close relationships with poets and writers like Paolo
Volponi, Goffredo Parise, Giovanni Testori, Ruggero Guarini, Alberto Boatto and Paul
Evangelisti. He has made illustrations for their books while they have written on his art.
Cucchi has also been active in the field of stage design: He has designed costumes and
sets for productions such as Rossini‘s and Respighi‘s La Bottega Fantastica at the
Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea, both in 1986,
Puccini‘s Tosca at the Teatro dell‘Opera in Rome, from 1990–1991, Pennisi‘s Funeral
of the Moon in Gibellina, in 1991 and an adaptation of Erasmus‘ In Praise of Folly, in
1992. In 1996 he designed the curtain for the Teatro la Fenice in Senigallia.
At present Enzo Cucchi lives and works in Rome and Ancona, places which provide him
with inspiration and multifaceted subjects for his work.
Galerie Bruno Bischofberger represents the artist in world wide exclusivity since 1981.