”Sprezzatura”

I will be showing a selection of paintings, many not exhibited before, at the lovely Jenny Bergström’s apartment gallery on Kolbäckgränd 22. She will be hosting a salon on January 25, 2020 from noon until 4 PM.  At 2 PM we will have a talk about my work. Otherwise viewing only by special appointment.

The title ”sprezzatura” is an Italian term used in men’s clothing, another interest of mine, where it denotes the art of being well dressed with apparent effortlessness, even carelessness. It can also encompass a breaking of the rules, in a way that still looks good. It is the opposite of the type of nervous perfection of perfect symmetry, spotless surfaces and immaculate straight lines. The term sprezzatura first appears in Baldessare Castiglione’s Il Libro del CortegianoThe Book of the Courtier, (1528). Sprezzatura is defined by Castiglione as ”a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”.

It all connected when again I came across the concept of ”sprezzatura” in a very in-depth book on Rembrandt (Ernst Wan De Wetering. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work. ). Apparently the first Dutch edition of Baldessare Castiglione’s Il Libro del Cortegiano appeared in 1662 and was dedicated to Jan Six, of whom Rembrandt made a famous portrait. Rembrandt and his contemporary painters were involved in a debate on painting in a smooth or rough manner. In his book Castiglioni draws a parallell between the demeanour of the courtier and the loose, seemingly careless manner with which the artist wields his brush.

In an interesting way this apparent effortlessness of style aligns with the kind of painters I have always enjoyed most. Figurative painters like Velázquez or Rembrandt who’s brushstrokes are loose and free, and whose paintings at close examination can look like blotches of paint or geological samples. Or someone like the contemporary American Mary Heilmann. When we met the painter David Reed for the Thinking Through Painting-project, he told us his friend Mary Heilmann had been called a ”sloppy minimalist”. To me that sounds quite wonderful. Like ”sprezzatura”.

 

 

 

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