William Balthazar Rose

Reviews – L’Universo Gemino (The Twin Worlds)

Paolo Turcis, Art Critic, Studio Semen, Arezzo, Italy

William Balthazar Rose’s painting is based on different artistic traditions, the result of an unlimited figurative culture.

From the genial cubist revolution to the lessons of the metaphysical from the rarefied atmospheres of Morandi’s still lives, to the harmonies of Renaissance art, the most intense artistic experiences of the past centuries are revived in these paintings full of visual charm. An extraordinary chromatic ability together with refined technical skills make up the artist’s highly remarkable style. A sensitive man, Rose is polyedric and eccentric, inclined by nature to an intimate study of reality, made up of pauses and silence. In his paessaggi a delicate atmospheric vibration is perceived, evoking the most suggestive landscapes of 19th century romantic painting that the artist appreciated during his stay in France.
To these mnemonic annotations should be added the predilection for the Tiber Valley: that noble setting, that ideal background piersfancescano thus confirms its vocation as a place of artistic inspiration. Rose is an attentive and patient observer of that which is revealed in the ‘mirabile proporzione’ between the background and human activities of this place, something that has been drawing artists, men of letters and simple tourists to Tuscany, from all over the world. The myth of Mediterranean Classicism has bewitched also Rose, who upon leaving Great Britain with the enthusiasm of a Grand Tour traveller, decided to settle in Italy.
This decision manifests itself in the passionate homage to the Italian figurative art Rose so deeply knows. He is attracted by the solidity of form, the bold marks, but above all, it is the mastery of composition, which distinguishes the classical measure of his aesthetic canon. Precise, metric ratios stabilize the innate harmonic correspondence of his figuration. The calm rhythms of this painting tell of a condition indifferent to the factors of space and time; an eternal circumstance, in which the reproduced gesture becomes a figurative witnessing of non-altering human action. In the quiet transparency of the pastoral scenes one can perceive the desire to return to the cosy womb of nature, to a remote and happy Arcadia.
This poetic behaviour expresses ulterior meanings beyond the animated chromatic backdrops. A germinating, twin world emerges, speculative, but of inverted tones, similar to the negative of a photograph. Enigmas one could say obscure prophecies breaking up the idyllic woods. The calm equilibrium recalling the aulic indifference of Piero becomes remote reference, visionary transfiguration, and ironic quotation.
A thick haze obscures the backgrounds of certain disquieting paintings. From darkness emerge cooks grasping cleavers, and mysterious solitary tennis players. What has occurred in Rose’s paintings? What is the motive for these sudden changes in expression? Where is the world promised in the joyful series of landscapes? The radiant harmony has vanished, leaving only a trace in the incisive brushstroke, which underlines the geometric rigour. In these works the sign reaches its highest expressive point: it thickens, turns livid as covering shadows lengthen their sickle of darkness.
The calm landscape meditation, stirred up by patient work en plain air is swept away by the frenzied agitation of life. The brutality of history, in its tragic evolution breaks into the scene overwhelming the harmonic movements of nature. Perhaps the ascertainment of a failure to relate has provoked this expressive reaction: human society in opposition to the rational of the natural organism has jeopardized the links which defined its belonging.
Once again the door of Earthly Paradise has been closed and the human drama of sufferance has been renewed. Perception of pain, and reflection on violence spur the expressive vein, which even reaches the grotesque. Nevertheless, figuration resists, though it becomes dark, appearing rigid and detached. In front of the brutality of daily life, the rational utopia of form is dangerously wavering.

Excerpts from L’Universo Gemino by Paolo Turcis

Paolo Turcis and Sean Gaston wrote accompanying essays for the exhibition catalogue Sinfonia di Cappelli published by Edizioni LaLoggia in 2007. Paolo Turcis, Serena Burroni, and Federica Tiripelli in addition provided analysis of specific paintings. The essay L’Universo Gemino (the Twin Universe) outlined aspects of Rose’s Italian work, and made an attempt to locate his work within the context of contemporary society. Paolo Turcis is an expert on the work of Alberto Sughi, and has assisted Giovanni Faccenda (director of the civic museum of modern and contemporary art in Arezzo) in the cataloguing of Sughi’s work. Above are excerpts from the essay L’Universo Gemino.-

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