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L. Pescador, 1995






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A contemporary “primitive” artist

by Marco Madesani


We often think of art as a whirling unicum, a miscellany which transcends time and space, so much so that we compare the most distant representations from both a symbolic and material point of view. And so it happens that African arts, with their concentration of formal and evocative solutions, are a source of inspiration which animates abstract language and becomes a variegated showcase to draw from and to dialogue with.

Enrico Prometti encountered Africa early, of course long after the various Picassos, Modìs, etc., but the heuristic significance of such a cultural revolution, according to which the twentieth century was no longer the same after the encounter with the art of the “other”, is still to be understood and evaluated; most importantly, the revolution lingers on to this day with the perpetuation of formal stylistic elements which highlight the debt of all modern avant-gardes to l’art negre.




Enrico’s encounter with Africa happened long before he set foot in the “dark continent” when, as a teenager, he witnessed the magic of certain artefacts, and with his first figurative experiments recycling waste material.

This gave rise to his first conceptual reflections on the analogies between cultures: the West, caught in the whirlpool of exasperating and continuous production, can no longer manage to think of recycling as a condition for a balanced ecosystem, but only as a déjà vu revival dictated by fashion. Prometti’s productions have silently pursued this ecology of art for decades, and its message is all too topical nowadays.

Enrico loved to define himself ironically as an old man who stays young through creative play, but this playful artistic activity concealed an anthropological dimension, a quest for the origins of form and art-making.

This symbolic investigation lived in unison with, and was fed by, the interaction with “primitive” arts, inexhaustible fonts of inspiration and studio practice.

He made countless trips to Africa, marked by adventure, encounters with landscapes, cultures, colours and sounds. He has witnessed a great deal of this variegated world, an inventory of mankind in transformation, one foot in the painful past and another in the global future around the corner. Amongst the many African peoples, that which Enrico visited most often was the by now well known Dogon, with their complex symbolism and archaic cosmogony that never ceases to amaze.


The manipulation of materials (wood, iron, plastic, bronze, paper) continually forged sculptural or pictorial forms which in time evolved from the delicate surrealism of his early works to his final, more mature, period which photographed energetic tribal-metropolitan snapshots.

The energy which moved Enrico Prometti did not make any distinction, almost as if this process risked discriminating against something, and so it was a case of total artist or no artist at all.



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