Article by Carlo Quintavalle (CSAC, University of Parma), Nov. 2012
Excerpted from; Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, The cruel narrative of Mario Sughi (published in Mario Sughi, Figures and Landscapes, Darwin Edizioni, Rome, Nov. 2012)
No, these images are really too strong – violent, in fact. Don’t be taken in by the wonderfully warm colours, the apparently static figures or the apparent lack of subject matter. No, this is not how things stand at all.
First of all, where does Mario Sughi’s art derive from? He’s Italian, of course, but not in his images, his writings, his way of expressing himself. He openly declares his appreciation of Francis Bacon and David Hockney, so, on the one hand, he reflects on solitude, obsession and emptiness and, on the other, he directly criticises society, its conventions and also its violence. However, he has been influenced by other artists, too, including Peter Blake, from whom he derives his sensitive composition and his skill in managing empty spaces, as well as figures. And then, perhaps, on reflection, Sughi must have loved Lucien Freud, not because of his dense and layered painting but, once again, because of his harsh judgement of human character. So Mario Sughi’s work contains all of these influences, perhaps, but also much more. There is his incisive, original style, traced back to its silhouettes, an original use of colour within a context of constant tension, through which the artist creates space, movement and depth. In fact, we shouldn’t expect to find a direct, immediate and clear focus in the work of Mario Sughi, in the tradition of German Expressionism, or the social criticism that clearly emerges in the paintings of Otto Dix and George Grosz, artists whom Sughi must also have loved. No, Mario Sughi’s work is very different. First of all, he feels the need to connect the traditions of graphic art, the art of British manifestos during the Interwar years, to that of illustrations, because, if you wish to invent a critical analysis of the society we live in, as Sughi does, you need to use the language of that society, but you also need to know how to transform it.
[ …] If we reflect on these works by Mario Sughi we can certainly recognise the influence of British Pop Art but also of other elements. There is the intentional suspension of time, his wish to depict non-events, to draw and colour figures who have no history, if not in those tiny gestures that are hinted at, or suggested, because they are always subtly ambiguous. I think that, in the dimension of the new depiction of British figurative art today, but also of Italian art, Mario Sughi’s work is important, principally because of his capacity to enrich the ancient language of art with the novelty of new expressions, like the influence of comics, affiches and illustrations. This is a new pictorial language: original, innovative and of the highest quality.
I am never sure about the meaning of my works.
I am concerned about how to do the work.
For me the style is the real subject matter./ Mario Sughi
Mario Sughi aka nerosunero is an Italian illustrator/artist living and working in Dublin.