taken from "AI_n.62_Giallo_La Tecnica"
Technique: Claudio Cintoli (1935-1978) was a pioneer of Hyperrealism who was not satisfied with simply creating resemblances to the world. His aim was if anything to display a “reality more real than the real”, supplanting that reality which in itself offers us no absolute certainties. Thus the artist began his journey towards that excess of realism which paradoxically represented life as more evident and plausible.
In about the mid-sixties the image/icon of the egg had already appeared in Claudio Cintoli’s diaries. The decade is the one inaugurated with Manzoni’s Consumazione dell’arte (Consumption of art), which distributed hard-boiled eggs with thumbprints impressed on the shells. Also from this period is the heady Ciclo del volo (Cycle of flight), a forerunner of Richard Bach’s bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the story of a seagull who “just wanted to know what I can do in the air and what I can’t”.
The cultural climate of the late ‘60s and the whole of the ‘70s was characterised by the Hyperrealism which in North America took over from Minimalism and conceptual art. In contrast to the synthetic conception of the Italian tradition, the maniacal detail of ‘superrealism’ is a typical legacy of Flemish culture, but Cintoli’s meticulousness is more likely traceable to his period of residence in New York. Adopting the inherited purity of Piero della Francesca and a certain metaphysical timelessness, Cintoli pursued a perfection drawn from the history of art, to which in fact he had already rendered homage in some Roman exhibitions. Whether he is portraying a person or a fruit, his painting is analytical, decidedly eloquent, organised according to plastic values, crystalline shades and lights which allow the always maniacal detail to adhere to the real world. It is no coincidence that one of his favourite subjects is the ostrich egg, which was placed as a decoration in Renaissance churches but in antiquity was the symbol of creation (or the soul), as well as the representation of the rebirth of Christ.
Cintoli’s azure shell, a hard but fragile epithelium of pitted porosity, is the imaginative form of the world. The works seem to be wrapped in the limpidity of these oval surfaces, in the optical stupor which accompanies the sublime and becomes an emblem: lucid, lyrical. Thus, in the two years from 1973-75, Cintoli painted a series of 14 canvases entitled Un uovo è un uovo (An egg is an egg), which were then exhibited at the Lorenzelli Arte gallery of Milan in 1977. The exhibition was an anticipation of the solo show Nido e altri voli (Nest and other flights) held the following year in Bologna at the De’Foscherari gallery. In this second stage, the husk is broken; featherless chicks are portrayed from above inside an oval. These works were echoed by four square canvases named after the cardinal points. The idea underlying the exhibition was the end of the dormancy of the egg, the introduction of the theme of life which takes flight from the nest.
After the artistic incubation/germination, we see the idea(l) of existence, being and eternity take shape, because it is from the egg that winged Eros, or Cosmic, Eternal Man, is born.
Referring to the title used by Mariano Apa in the catalogue of the retrospective exhibition dedicated to Cintoli in 1987 in Loreto town hall, ‘the search for the androgynous’ is a theme which has remained partly unresolved. As Aldo Buzzi points out in his culinary essay L’uovo alla kok , the egg “has the property of being masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural” (ndt. in Italian the word for “egg” in fact has this unusual grammatical characteristic); both the female and male ostriches sit on their eggs. William Blake instead identified the male principle in the yoke and the female principle in the white. “As soon as we talk of eggs” Buzzi writes, “hundreds of problems arise. Are light-coloured eggs better than darker ones? Large ones better than small ones? Those with a yellow yoke better than those with an orange yoke? Should we say tuorlo or torlo? […] A work of art is always an adventure: the omelette is not exempt from this rule”.
In 1972, Cintoli staged his most famous performance, Crisalide (Chrysalid), in which he had himself hung upside-down, wrapped in a sack from which he tried to cut his way out; a cathartic act of artistic rebirth which was to induce the artist to create a double personality, that Janus Bifrons named Marcanciel Stuprò. The effort of “coming to light”, a kind of parthenogenesis within the darkness of the sack, sets up a link between identity and otherness, finally becoming copula mundi. It was in fact Stuprò who organised the egg bath in which two girls immersed themselves during the preview at the Multipla gallery in Milan, where diptyches with ostrich eggs were exhibited a year in advance (1976). The vertex is thus that of a bird unable to take flight towards the giddy heights, in that emptiness which figures in most of the theories formulated about this artist. So, Cintoli offers us a brain-teaser very similar to the one in the traditional children’s chant, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”; and almost certainly we pronounce ourselves in favour of a principle which is also its own cause. The only certain thing in the midst of all these oracles and sphinxes is that in one of his many notebooks which have come down to us the artist wrote the following sentence: “I was greedy for eggs and I liked to drink them straight after finding them under the straw or in a ditch”.