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WORKS, THE NINETIES
 
 
   
Densi, i grigi, con la forza delle stelle scure, verso il loro misterioso dove. Non nero.

Francesca Sommero 1991
It is not surprising that Marco Tronci was able to penetrate the inlay of Po Valley architecture composed of baked clay and Lombard plaster. It is not surprising because, even though he is not a native of the Po Valley, he has adopted its ways. His origins lie elsewhere but Venice has been his home for so many years, by now, that we might say that part of his identity also lies in this Po Valley coastal region.
There follows that the lagoon has a spatial order, an atmosphere of light which reflects in the terraqueous sphere to become onyx then graphite as thick as the night. Perhaps this is the spatial order that lies within the complex cosmos of materials which in their artistic application have been charged with the equivocal function of mediating between light and color.
I suspect that the lagoon, with the space of the Biennale, the Accademia, the Punta della Dogana, the historic salt warehouses, has had its influence, has inspired this young artist and influenced his development. I am alluding not to the architecture as much as to their position, that space between Santa Maria della Salute in the Apollonian sphere and San Giorgio Maggiore on the Palladian fringe in which the concentration of light is so blinding that one seeks refuge in the semi-darkness of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni for the tranquillity of the humble Hieronymic solitude of a Palladian precedent, Carpaccio, and the composure of his geometric views. Why am I saying this? Because in Tronci's chromatic-material hendiadys, the dialectic between light and matter runs in a dimension that has more than one coefficient. The fact is that Tronci prefers to seek a different light. He leaves to the wayside the daytime light of the present in search of the reticent light of history.
Tronci brings to mind the idea of spying on time, as one who demands of himself answers to the nature of materials will do. He questions light (the anti-matter?) or, better yet, that which occurs before and after, in the negative of the environmental condition: the apparent silence of the dark (anti-light and therefore anti-matter?). It is a critical position that leads me to think that the informal, before after the crisis of form, can above all be a "reductio ad unum" of a palimpsest of light gravitating to the mirror of our culture, reflecting a time wrought with crises that cannot be overcome if ways are not sought. His research is directed to seeking such ways outside the present in a diachronic, not synchronic, function or, rather, in history (both past and future). And here lies Tronci's originality. Tronci does not adapt himself to any law but, as we shall see, he brushes over them in search of answers. Such a metaphysics of light can, in every way, be shared with Procleus, Ps
eudo-Dionysus Areopagitus, Plotinus, and the mosaicists working between Byzantium, Ravenna, and Venice.
The still earth of Tronci, in this case as it is identified with the Po, obstinately pursued him as he took this opportunity to enter into the heart of Parma. The space, the climate, the city, even the fog, interested him. In fact, Tronci's exhibit took place at the height of the region's foggiest season, autumn after All Saints' Day when even the walls sweat with the humidity. He set the premise for material transformations likened to those carried out through carbonation and sulphation from one solstice to the next. He came to draw those disordered and unpredictable traces, imprints of the years, that not only appear on stone but, above all, on the materials of man: plaster, worked sandstone, polished and patinated marble. It is a slow erosive action, slower than that of water, an erosion through time compounded by wind and heat, light and color, the sun and the moon. Day and night, seasons, all are fixed on a slit of light that runs like a laser ray over the surface of a sphere.
The study of these events through the dust of matter is a new adventure, extra lagus in Roman or medieval Latin given that Tronci's game is diachronic. I'm convinced of it. For Tronci who is by birth an Adriatic spirit, the opportunity of Parma was the rise, or, if you prefer, the descent to origins, to the mater.
Between the 13th and the 14th Centuries, a group of painters from the Adriatic coast traveled across the lands of the Po Valley preaching a gospel from the coast, painting figures in tempera blended with lime, drawing back to the flat dimension of an absolute, dogmatic vision. This Adriatic style followed a complicated return route along the foot of the Alps (how complex simple facts become!) and was applied in the decoration of the infinitesimal space of the cumbersome and pedantic sky of the Baptistery of the Aurea Parma, after it had been freed from the torment of Frederick II.
It would be easy to blame the Eridanus and the Heliades who, weeping for their brother, Phaton, as his burning body fell into the great river, were turned into poplars along the river's banks! I am convinced that the light of the Eridanus, or the Po River, in Tronci's second Adriatic world forced him to return to unburned lands. Tronci is discovering that refuge is not to be found on Torcello alone, that cenobites were not only in the Venetian lagoon but also between Bobbio and Luxeuil.
Tronci's large canvasses in Parma have become those altar-pieces removed from time in the 18th C. revision of the cenobitic Benedictine church of 1000 A.D.. They are spaces of unburned forms where earth is at work; they are places of unresolved challenge between matter and light, between substance and form, moon and sun, day and night. One might add apophatic theology (where all is obtained by negation). The hendiadys opens itself once again to antithesis or, rather, to the premise of the syllogism. Unknowingly, Tronci has touched on the ancient cosmos of Parma's first church, the Benedictine San Paolo, a convent for women constructed under order of the emperor and Siegfried II, the city's bishop. Tronci ascends the righteousness of the holy mothers and, in the space of the installation, he substitutes it with matter. The Mater Materia.
Rhythm. He takes off from the body, perhaps a shroud. The canvas is treated with those parts that give consistency to man's persistence in space, parts of everything, materials worked by hand, parts of their body.
The nas, the sacred place, is the Adriatic residual of the atmosphere contained within the metaphor of space-history. Light dips itself in matter - an exercise that takes place in the planned presence of men.
The matter does not come to life again. It is suspended like an ancient altar-piece, religiously waiting. Mater Matuta (in this case also primitive and generative).
Movement? It is there. It is sound. In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, it was a clever mechanical device. Now it's sound. New? In part. What matters is the atmosphere. Instructed? Uncertain? No. In doubt. Those dim lights remind me of certain fires in the night, that intense, damp, density of the new moon.
In comparison to Leone Tesauro's aniconic, here there prevails the question between the iconic and the aniconic (Rosario Assunto comes to mind) as an absolutely subjective and personal choice made by the artist. The form in these spaces is acquainted with Fautrier through Vedova, Tapies, and others (Burri is almost a pleonasm). The informal coincides with freedom and, for a split second, with that of experimentation. Tronci relates the experimental question of contemporary art to the force of history.
This return to Maternal origins in the primordial valley of the Po of the archangelic mysteries can be found in evenings spent turning down streets dense with dust and fog, with cracked, dripping plaster, with broken street lamps peeling with rust; evenings of unformed shadows and exhortative dissertations, of highly Byzantine mosaic soliloquies, of lengthy bantering, of footsteps in the silence. Flavio Caroli taught me something that I have taken into account; it is a note on a cherry-wood desktop. Winter evenings in the Po Valley bear a sense of mystery and crowd with matter, somewhere between a lake of the Po Valley and a movie-screen as thay might be approached in a fog. The effect is that of a sheet, a white canvas filled with a gray tempera, matter made apparent, vivified by the light.
Tronci's works find room in the fifth dimension of sound. Time, three-dimensional space, sound. The sound adaptation of the Benedictine neum is the sole movement that is slow and deaf, that fills this mural revival of the liturgical procession. Gregorian. The neum chant is as paratactic as an extreme east coast, Adriatic, identity. There is no other relation than that of suspension. The neum of silence should have become a highly speculated over humanistic motif and the complement of the plainsong, not its antithesis.
These suspensions of light and sound and the open space of the Gregorian chant have brought me back to the Adriatic imagery of an artist from Parma working in Rome: Francesco Barilli's six or seven churches on the Adriatic; they bear the neum of eastern reform. Cantus firmus with Tonino Guerra's blessing.
The fixed chant moves the air through the static quality of the matter. The liturgy does not absorb the rite; the matter as it is revealed by the radiant neglect of the light remains a positive-negative of the space. If you take my word for it, they are positive acts. If you don't, then they can be taken as the places of the skin of history, those that remain as leftovers of themselves. History, like science, is a snake that changes its skin. The residual shell of scales is the very thin chrysalis that remains of man's acts; it is dry, full of dust, apparently useless. Matter is defined through negative theology. Unmoving sound is like breath, also made of the neum of silence. Flatus vocis; flatus divini: the earth becomes the body.
Tronci follows the mainland, he covers his hands with it. He is able to challenge speculation without falling into aestheticism; he shows strength in escaping from it. How easy it is to run away from traces, marks, signatures. If there is anything insincere in this process, it is succumbing to the mirror. There is no reflection in pure speculation. And matter precedes the mirror. The earth matrix is symbolic. For this reason, Tronci placed inscribed altar-pieces as the main focal objects in a church whose sacredness, since its repudiation, thrives in nothing more than the material of its construction. He seeks the other side of the sn-blon.
Being and Nothingness may be a simple philosophy among the simplest. However, it can serve as a starting point and a point of return, that of the eternal returning.
Tronci starts the first part of his research into maternal origins in the earth matrix that is unformed form. He sets the base for going even deeper. The discovery of the artifice of the voice, of formed sound that is not only matter-noise but noise guided back to rhythm, to unity, to harmony, prepares for the breaking down of matter.
I am not familiar with his latest work. However, it wouldn't surprise me if they relate to the Po Valley. Earth and Maternal origins. I see it as the only road to take. I don't want to make forecasts. I am simply interested in checking if it will be confirmed. As far as I'm concerned, the maturity of this artist cannot be compromised by other directions he may choose to take.
Look at the intensity of his reading of Parma's San Ludovico. Observe its coherence. The propriety of the language. The intensity of the project that doesn't fear the obviousness of contradictions. As far as I'm concerned, despite those who don't believe in the connotations of expression, these suffice to distinguish the research and experimentation from persuasive pleasure with little breathing space, from art used as a pure pretext for cerebral exercises.
Tronci has chosen to dialogue with history, the slow time of history, that of the neuma. He intended and intends to intuit or tap into the tenacious and thrilling breath of the narrative pendulum of time.

Mater Materia and Mater Matuta in Marco Tronci
or
Earth and Maternal Origins in Marco Tronci

Francesco Barocelli
Conservatore Patrimonio Artistico Gallerie Musei Parma 1997/1998
In this age of virtual experience, when simply touching a computer can set us off in search of "non-places", an artist's appropriation of an actual space assumes the aura of what I would define as an almost sacred act. In our daily lives, while we use the many spaces which surround us, we tend to overlook their structure, that play between harmony and elements competing to create a sort of musical piece, potentially drawing a spectator into an architectonic construct.
These two conditions substantiate my consideration of Marco Tronci's installation in the Church of San Ludovico in Parma as an act of courage, a manifestation of great respect. The church building, long since deconsecrated, served for years as a power plant before it was entirely abandoned. Tronci sought to restore significance to the building's historic function, but he did so in a contemporary key by reinterpreting the path taken by the faithful in their humble approach to the godhead. The six large canvases, carefully suspended within each niche, impart new meaning to the parallel arches, traditionally symbolic of the rhythmic passage that accompanied the believer in a crescendo towards the altar. Each canvas has us witness a gradual dematerialization of its substance. The nucleus folds. Furrows wound the ground's surface. An initial dramatic swelling becomes ever less perceptible until it almost vanishes, leaving no more than a slight trace, a sign in which concreteness seems to c
hange and wed itself to the latent spirituality of the place. The cycle culminates in the apse with a single, imposing, monochromatic, vertical canvas that suggests, somewhat like a monolith, the presence of some undefined thing, albeit one of incredible power.
The visitor proceeds through the dark of the surrounding space into the side of the church, an ante-chamber leading to the sacellum. Here, Tronci has placed a canvas composed of a thin membrane of concrete furrowed by several barely perceptible streaks. These converge into a bowl as though it were retrieving inextinguishable salty drops, or tears. The title of this work is, in fact, "The Great Weeping". It is as though its muted sobbing accompanies us as we proceed through the hieratic silence of the space into the sacellum where an antique copper cauldron has been overturned, spilling salt. And here, it is as though we are seeing all the tears shed in this world condensed into a mass of salt, one that testifies to that infinite grief contained in the pangs of pain, between the interstices of the earth, but that finds its catharsis in this transformation. This is indeed material born of pain, but one that is also fundamental as a catalyst in giving life to new processes, to new mutati
ons in which an initially coarse and earthly element can rise to the sphere of the spiritual.
Marco Tronci has worked for years with materials such as earth and concrete to create works in which such poor and basic media acquire a sure dignity through their manifestation of a slow and painful metamorphosis. The surfaces of his canvases are furrowed by deep folds or channels leading to the center of a nucleus in which the matter seems submerged yet, at the same time, to re-emerge onto the surface. The spaces he chooses to work in are characterized by a specific history. In the case of San Ludovico, the artist reckoned on the architecture of the place and its significance. He seeks the difficult challenge of creating works in co-existence with their site. When he achieves their symbiosis, the space is charged with the energy of his work. Because the space is rebuilt by and through the presence of the work, its initial connotation is altered and there is a true metamorphosis.

Aurora Fonda