shows in the world
L. Pescador, 1995
> following page
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
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.
> following page