“His fantasy is never gratuitous: originating from his deepest self, it meets thecollective unconscious of our time and reflects our anxieties back to us,sweetened by a smiling irony, a tolerant wisdom.”
A dwarf chasing a white horse. A tower made of naked bodies. A face cracking apart. For all the surrealism in the painting of Stanislao Lepri (1905-1980), most pales in comparison to the strange and wonderful story of his life. He was an aristocratic Roman diplomat whose chance encounter with the artist Leonor Fini(1907-1996) changed the course of his life. He became a gifted painter, who eschewed manifestos and programs, choosing instead to explore childhood symbols and reminiscences. A latter-day bohemian, whose paintings were on view throughout Europe and at the New York’s Museum of Modern Art before falling out of the public eye.
The exhibition Stanislao Lepri includes over forty paintings and works on paper retracing Lepri’s career, from the early years when he met Fini, until the end of the 1970s. The show is designed as a journey into the artist’s oneiric universe, whosefigures speak of human emotions, inner fears, desires and distress with a sharp, satirizing irony. Skeletons, hooded figures, gigantic cats, monstrous animals and naked figures of Medieval and Renaissance reminiscence inhabit a surreal world, which might belong to a fairy tale as well as to a nightmare.
As for many of the Surrealists, Lepri makes it clear that the certainties and dogmas of the past have lost their validity and universality. What is left are the invisible, governing rules of fate, which seem to determine the inevitable faith of his figures, who are helplessly doomed to their destiny. Nothing is really as it seems. His paintings are “ultramondi metafisici,” where he unveils “the unbelievable, the ambiguous, the contrary, the dark metaphor, the allusion, the astute, the sophism” which pervade a world that has become labyrinthic. This exhibition, the first monographic dedicated to Lepri in over twenty years, sheds light on an artist that remains profoundly contemporary, but is yet to be fully rediscovered.