MOODS, TREMORS, TEARS AND SAINTS.
Saturno Buttò lives near the breath of the sea. And as the sea, his tale contains fascinating stories and disquieting depths.
When the door of his study closes again on the crowded tourist’s come and go, it seems to have crossed the time threshold and to find itself in a prohibit hereafter, overflowing with seductions. A persuasive music overcomes the unexpected silence and you are wrapped in a winning languor, emphasized by the tangle of the lights sometimes sparkling sometimes discreet which intensify charming and unchaste visions. It isn’t a simple atelier of a painter.
It is a temple where you can officiate. A confortable and dry uterus, embellished by a refined scenography where elegants volumes, dissolute and rare reviews, woods, carpets, sculpted heads trimmed with horns, rigorous sofas in black skin, surgical irons, African fetishes, pencils, paintbrushes, modern and archaic sculptures, orthopaedic calibrators, leather and anti-gas masks and other eccentric objects are sourrounded by pictures that are arranged as sounding, from which rises, with a dimb moan, a theory of vermilion figures that crowds all around, in an atmosphere as the Dantesque circle.
Our author, pianist fingers, piercing glance, wide forehead and the profile thinned in a Mephistophelean beard, introduces ourselves in the modern liturgy of his curious creatures which draw suggestion from bloody traditions and rough taboo. What did it pass in all those minds that for centuries had to see works commissioned by the Church, which portray truculent Passions of Christ, transfixed Holies (Mishima would had the first orgasm gazing the San Sebastian of Guido Reni), barbarian martyrs’ mutilations, cynical Salomè and beheaded San Giovanni, universal judgments with tumbles of condemned fell into the hellish, torn apart by the sadism of enraged devils? Eroticism and pain, transgressions and pleasure, in continuous conflict between demoniac and celestial, and enjoyment as truce or ecstatic sublimation of the pain, are among the leader grounds on which the Butto’s work feeds, enriched of a myriad of cultured references and of sarcastic provocations, triggered by his intransigent vision of the religion’s effects.
There is no trace of ostentatious obscenity neither of blasphemous satisfaction. The obscenity, exquisitely cerebral, originates by the ingenious contrast and by the audacity of the contaminations between the sacred and the profane, if anything – but don’t they descend from the only Demiurge? – that Buttò, transforms into imagines for our fearful eyes, able to stir up soft balances of the soul, revealing us the basest intuitions. Saturno Buttò, as each man, has his open match with God. And he plays it with all his evocation power of the violent contradictions which with joyful perversion pull the roots of our hesitations and the absurdity of our regrest up, disclosing the deceit of what they ask us to venerate. Maybe from here a confused sensation of profanation, that is not goaded by immodesty of bodily loves, but by forceful emotions, which through amicable sublimations contrast the claim of a mystic senses of mortification.
Why are pain and death seriousness worthy, while the pleasure is execrable dirty? And the eye that insinuates itself joyful and unrestrained in the females intimacy or that hesitates indiscreet on the males pudenda (the Shames in our education) is maybe the eye of the Evil? The most atrocious invention, is the pain, not the death. The pain inflict through the body – Christ’s torture – which is the first and direct experience of the man, the path of all its sensational experiences, the target of human and superhuman ravings.
Couldn’t leave deep and traumatizing traces the tortures to the witches, the Inquisitions, the persecutions, the hecatomb of the right wars, the exorcism on the possessed, the death sentences and the stakes of the heretics on the public squares? The feeling of fault, the castration of the vital impulses, the inner dismayed, the torments of the confession seem to Saturno Buttò – who is believing but not observant – absurd bonds if you relate them to the human element, oriented against the man’s nature, unbearable contrast between the attraction exercised by the sacred and the divine reprobation for the sin: the most instinctual and powerful of our desires. Then the surgeons, another sacerdotal caste, who invented surgical irons of sinister fascination, satanic tools of tortures which add jerks of suffering to undefended bodies with arrogant excuse to heal, violating with impunity the bodies to investigate their arcane, profaning intimacy, abusing unarmed sensibilities.
Therefore Saturno Buttò physically inserts in the pictures operating tools of terrible aseptic forms perfections, fixing a suture forceps between two portraits – Before and after turgescences of lips and bosoms, resections of noses and similar amenity – or elsewhere with the addiction of insulting small battles for clysters or menacing hypodermoclysis dangling on trembling human guinea pigs. This is the essence of his nonsense spell, fixed in temporary stagnation of silences, from which in each moment can rise the possibility of a ferocious disorder. In the work Silvia devotio reappears the famous symbol of the Holy Heart that pleasant maiden shows off in painful stripping of flesh in the bare chest, faith brand mark that leaves raised the skin sprayed of blood, with the addiction of stigmata of the pious hands, dressed of an amaranthine velvet with a penitential cord crossed on the lap. Crucial cry to the strong symbols of the Christian iconography in times of contrasts to the spread of Islamism. All the things we do, the mystery and the inevitableness of our rites, are consequence of the religion – sustains Buttò – and they appear as face opposite to the reality that instead claims the right to indulge in the seduction. Each representation becomes therefore metaphor, instigator cross-references to the abuse of the divine reprisal on a crushed humanity, that looks for escape and revenge through transgression of the denied pleasure. And then, for someone, the scandal. There are Buttò’s work which represent naked little girls.
We don’t notice the nudes of small children because there aren’t reprehensible while we wonder why the male nude cannot be proposed if adult, still today it is object of rigorous censure. We are in the third millennium, century of claim democratic emancipation, of freedom (our cursed chimera!) and of unstoppable progress and we have to support that books are published with points instead of sentences which are believed unrepeatable. Which have been written by men as us, for men as us. Who is the Superman who arrogates himself that right? Who did confer it to him? Why does nobody rise? How is it still possible to accept that there are bibles, films, pictures, texts, imagines, truths only for chosen individuals who rises to decide for their equals what the others can read, see, know? I imposed to myself a form of self-censorship – tells us Buttò – trying to avoid the vulgarity. But the conformists, the useless idiots of a pharisaic moral are very vigilant, as lacking in respect and irony. Which kind of scandal can generate the view of an impuberal sex, as the one of a baby who you change the napkin or who you take the bath, that we observe with paternal serenity and tenderness, maybe meanwhile squirts a saint pee (as jested our mentioned education)? Where do reside the depravation, the indecent, even the porn for the dull-witted people heavily make uneasy by the view of a featherless vulva, if not in the head and in the blackest folds of the observer soul? Or do we want to belive that the Creator enjoyed himself to make pornography? And yet the owners of an art gallery, careful and sacred, advise against the exhibition of work imputable of…paedophilia! I don’t see why I have to renounce to a subject interesting as much as another one – observers Buttò – it is part of the normality and, treated correctly, I don’t see why should I have to bandit it from my themes of inspiration. It isn’t right to renounce to a project, to choke an interesting idea to don’t run risks. Does the nudity scare? Maybe it is the most turbid of the appeals.
But the body is also our unmistakable identity, our only possession, the extreme personal biceps that we will consign to the moisture of the grave. The Opus Dei, a wonderful naked back of a woman, a large sensuous pelvis at the end of which, the ambiguous title inscriptions widens out in the elegance of in the gothic character, it provokes an amused internal fuss. Which work is entirely diviner that woman’s naked and what is there more impious – for the diehards – then contamination between religion and beautiful behind? “But has God intestines?” wondered and perplexed Milan Kundera. Going out from the rules it is the Saturno Buttò’s imperative, urgency and must of the artist, prey of the most aberrant but also stimulating antinomies.
What Christianity is really the origin of all the unlimited erotic of the last centuries? If that’s how the things are, moreover, why not be grateful to him? The recurrent and uncovered sexual call, conscience of an inner affliction that insistently subtends the religious theme and its iconography, but also the fetish, the noir, the body modification, the heathen faiths, the piercing and the sadomasochistic, the punk and the dark are on the basis of the Saturno Butto’s creative meditations, who contaminates with irreverence the sacredness of the rituals with physiognomies and tick of the daily, where it is absent the immaterial exstasy of the same, as in Pasolini and in De Sade, but on which flutters a thin anxiety of redemption. In Danae , made pregnant by the mythical Jove’s gilt rain, here is reduced to inseminating and aimed virile surge, and in her retaliation, the amazing Pissing woman who shows a charming nude woman’s subject in the act of freeing forceful spout of urine, only and true generatrix of the humanity, free by the poor contest of useless focus, Buttò reaches memorable emotional strains. In Milk, you admire a very beautiful girl entirely nude, just because she is gloves of black till the elbows, with a sinuous and perfect profile, who squeezing herself a goatish mamma makes squirt a pure dense gush of milk, sublime nourishment, that in slight oblique trajectory sprinkles the black background of the picture, lustfully staying immortalized in the air.
Impulsive evocation of a generous Susanna or of the Steinbeck’s fury , where a puerperal offers the young turgor of the breast to the desperate squalor of an old man who was dying of hungry. Cruel madhouse constriction, pallors and sweats of an hysteria poured out and congealed in a lost livid sobbing of overexcitement and dribble, in the Ritratto di Samantha the dismayed for umpteenth suffered overpowering. In the Fetish work, theme on which Saturno buttò has been working for a long time, triumphs one more time the endless charm of a female nude seen from the back, reiterated in an exultant triptych of reds and black leather corset, that become flesh fastening, dorsal infibulation, seam of a sinful recess, to go back to be fetishist flesh constraint, a sensual idol that shouts and runs wild the fair that nest in the man. Pressing reflections and challenge by enigmas, regarding the man who is already born infected and subjugated by a never commited sin. And on a guilty God’s silence (“let me see you, you that spy on me” the Pyrrhonist Bufalino provoked) who dosen’t justify himself for the evil of the world.
A Deus Otiosus or a tired and disappointed Demiurge who doesn’t make out to have open the access to the titanic struggle between the power of the good and the Devil, allowing that the human condition ends up to be sensed as the malignant product of a misguided divine wishes. A tidy and personal painting, of healt figurative print, spreads with the thoughtful patience of the glazing on a wooden board, in which prevail the brigt red of the pleasure perversity, the ochre of the melancholy and the blacks of the pain and death, with sumptuous use of the gold leaf to ennoble the infamy of the flesh. Admirable the elegant gothic – cabalistic – saturnine monogram that buttò uses as signature, as confirm of his extraordinary talent of taste and of refined designer, perfect teacher of harmony and proportions, wonderful portraitist and wise master of the anatomies and of drapery secrets, who sometimes portrays himself in hieratic but also scoffing positions.
In a self-portrait, with bare shouders, with the chest tight bandaged, as a toreador, by a carmine clothes that sudden open itself, like a bell, in the low part, allowing wide ventilation to the virility, he brandishes the allegory of a paintbrush as weapon ready to offend, crowning himself of a imposing trophy of twisted muoflon horn (maybe trusting of being bachelor) that confer him an aura of authoritative repressed power, however leaving to filter an impulse of irony in the look threateningly frowning. It is a summa of the existential obsessions of our time, lived in the reason torment and in the worry of an impossible composition of opposites. If the mystery of the suffered pain, equable and assiduous life partner, will really count as expiation, we wish it will change into a sufficient tidy sum of pity to move the God who is waiting for us, so that he will commit our exhausted soul to an eternal darkness quiet.
Giovanni Serafini 2006
Translation: Cristina Di Canio