For my stay at Villa Lena, I invoked the presence of the American gay poet Frank O’Hara (1926-1966). The readings of his “Lunch Poems” guided me on a private and religious journey.
The studio, where natural light came in quietly, reminded me of a small chapel with a central white wall leading the viewer to a kind of unfinished altar. After placing the paintings, objects, photographs, and sculpture installation, the feeling of calm overwhelmed me.
The object on the floor, piled with stones and fragments, generated a new curiosity. I realized that it simulates a reliquary, containing the presence of a body as an appeal to the state of purest grace and delight. In Portuguese, the word delight (gozo) has in its double erotic/religious meaning a poetic breadth that interests me a lot, and it is in this encounter that I seek the transfiguration of this historical, biographical, literary character, the promiscuity of the spiritual in sex, and of sex in the spiritual.
The shirt “O Poeta do Sul” is perhaps the more obvious work because it personifies the poet O’Hara and indicates his presence all day in the space. In turn, the floor sculpture “Tunis O’Hara Avanhandava”, as written before, embraces the presence of the body inside the reliquary as in medieval sanctuaries (the Holy Foreskin of Christ, the tunic of Saint Vicent from Zaragoza).
Here, however, the fragment adored is that of a meteorite, the Avanhandava, which fell in 1955 in the countryside of the state of São Paulo in Brazil, a few kilometres from my hometown; this magnetic object is proof of a story that adds a third narrative to the piled stones.
The small reliquary also incorporates stones and objects found around the studio in such a way to expand other presences: how many other artists have been here before me? Capturing traces, founding the church soil...
The paintings and objects on the wall create a constellation around the photograph of the poet. They are abstract forms of consecration. For the paintings, an old jar, a statue outlined only with lines against the raw linen, a colourful and very gestural composition that I called “angel's head”. For the objects, rusty nails that resemble commas, a poem by O 'Hara written and pasted roughly by hand. They are all fragments that invoke and love a life.
Lastly, a lithograph is being produced for the Villa Lena Foundation at the traditional school Il Bisonte in Florence. The edition is a drawing of the redone cover of “Lunch Poems” pocketbook, my kind of bible in Palaia.
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Poeta do Sul [Southern poet] - Matheus Chiaratti
Works produced during the residency at Villa Lena, Italy
October, 13rd – November, 2nd
Photos by Marco Farmalli
©2023 by Matheus Chiaratti.