A fascinating world amidst memories, dreams and visions.

Marika Lion

One only has to pass through the doors of Walter Davanzo’s atelier to understand that one is standing in front of a surreal work of art where light is filtered through the door, creating a motionless and cocoon like space.

Perfectly arranged works of art that dialogue among themselves in total silence, objects are everywhere and create a perfect sense of balance, while a large chandelier made out of transparent and allegorical scrap metal, captures the eye like the keeper of a lighthouse.

I am greeted by an army of objects: a cardboard armchair, Renaissance style fabrics, lace that seems to have lived in the lavish halls of Palazzo Salina that belonged to the family of Thomas of Lampedusa, brushes and paints lined up as if they were tin soldiers, old postcards from famous seaside resorts of post war Italy, 45 rpms vinyl records, dogs made out of wire but already in a state of decay, and it is only when one walks across the squeaky floorboards that one feels observed by a thousand curious eyes waiting to come to life.

Breaking the ice is the artist himself who, moving about in great harmony with the space surrounding him, renders everything simpler, and it is in this way that I begin my conversation, entering into a world so totally infinite, without reference and lacking any conception of time.

Davanzo’s works are characterized by the extraordinary capacity of piecing together a memory, reinterpreting and reconstructing it almost as if it was an unfinished dream. His grandfather’s old musical scores, through his figures and colors, become stories that facilitate every reading and interpretation. Family photographs and photos of his childhood summarize the story and the emotions of a happy time, the 50’s and 60’s, Italy’s economic boom and Davanzo transforms this in his eternal works of art.

The memories of his school, his teacher, and his classmates gloriously painted in an almost abstract manner, soft colors marked by strong strokes most probably reference to the artist’s emotional enthusiasm. Memories that are repeated in succession in each of his paintings, objects of design or art installations and that become companions in his autobiographical story.

In a certain sense Davanzo’s works are reminiscent of Jean Michel Basquiat’s graffiti style because of their line and significance, but they are also remind us to the works of Frances Bacon, especially in his paintings where excess force is used to depict his dream. He is also very similar to his compatriot Gino Rossi, an artist from Treviso of the 900’s, who is distinguished by paintings using defined superficial planes of color and a strong brushstroke. This is only a simplistic reading, because Davanzo goes beyond technique, experimenting every day, applying dispirit elements of every kind with diverse materials and at times exasperating the work, which finally arrives at expressing something indefinite and always in motion.

He also pays particular attention to places, those from his memory, as well as those he has already discovered and revisited, frequently they are places that have seen or see the passage or the permanence of many people: abandoned factories, railways stations, public institutions, such as mental institutions, all places without a defined location. It is in this way his paintings assume their grandeur, not by virtue of size, but because of their richness in representing places frequented by millions of people with all their dreams, hopes and sorrows.

In “Dream” the figures double and become mirror images of each other as if negating one or the other’s personality, unwilling to admit reality and ironically commenting on its significance by camouflaging the image by superimposing it on top of maps, old drawings, or fabrics.

What is difficult to read in the work of the artist is the overarching concept that should lead to a correct interpretation. His each and every thought is imbedded in the canvas, but is hidden by an impenetrable patina that renders all wrapped in mystery. I deduce that his ability to express his dreams in his work is perfectly the same as attempting to remember or explain a dream upon awakening.

And then the detail of the three X’s that initializes the thought, that does not allow one to play with memories, in fact, they become the seal that eternally preserves every memory, other than the three X’s everything comes to a conclusion and it is not possible to change anything anymore, understanding vanishes and what remains is only a symbol and a visual interpretation.
Walter Davanzo, the great dreamer and my dear friend, will live forever in the folly of the folly of dreams.