Critical Notes

Note critiche Critical Notes

"Le vespe di Bartolini", Carla Benedetti, Antonio Moresco, 11/12/2019

"Ogni cosa è Metacosa nell'essenza della realtà", Vittorio Sgarbi, 01/12/109

Francesca Paoli, Giuseppe Bartolini: il linguaggio fotografico nella sua opera", tesi di laurea, Anno Accademico 2017/8

Bartolini portrays the Tower (of Pisa) of the right size, not too big, not too small, and not looking like a postcard … not mannered or pretentious … but a beautiful white Tower with a lot of green in front of it and a lot of blue above ... and with additional charm due to the absence of tourists. … In his rusty car carcasses there is a virtuosity that refers to something else, perhaps to a prayer (as suggested by Antonio Moresco).
If, as the theologian Jean Daniélou wrote, “art is to perceive the depth of reality”, Giuseppe Bartolini ranks among the greatest artists.

Camillo Langone,  il Foglio,  agosto. 2012

In the Italian Pavillon, where paintings are clearly prevalent, the atmosphere is only partially different from that of the whole Biennale. The fine paintings piled up as in a warehouse get lost: the VW ‘Beetle’ by Bartolini, wrecked, deformed, animated by light and rust, floats in a void, white on white…

Raffaele Donnarumma, 2011


Giuseppe Bartolini is a painter of vision, a painter by vocation. A painter out of his time. For many years he has been painting objects and shapes captured on the border between life and death, as great painting has always done … The onset of light on the ruins of the world and of time: abandoned garages, disused stores, empty workshops with broken tiles, walls from which signs have been detached but their absence still continues to pulse through the filtering of light in the world, deserted railway stations with tracks leading to who knows where, or nowhere, truck tires, pylons, car carcasses left along the side of the road or in junkyards, still and brave in their last chemical metamorphosis and their extreme and bare beauty. This is not hyper-realism or a realistic parody of “reality”, but painting with vision and appearance. A religious painter, a painter of icons. Sacred art.                                                   

Antonio Moresco,  2011  - Il primo amore,  11 nov 2011


 Ferroni and Bartolini, Milan, 1990 (photo by Luciana Mulas) 


Everything that Bartolini paints etches itself into the dead zones of thought. In those habits through which we, involuntarily, become aware of reality. His relics, suspended in a void of light, speak of the transformation of matter.

Antonio Gnoli, 2010

We enter through an iron gate that leads to the garden of his house: to me, it feels as if I was entering one of his paintings, such as those of the “botanical garden” with the palm trees wrapped up in a special kind of light only found on the coast of Tuscany.

Edoardo Milesi , 2010

From a certain distance only the three highest objects of enigmatic shape stand out – the round dome of the baptistery, the apex of the cathedral with its elliptical dome and the leaning trunk of the tower – which stimulate imagination without revealing the whole. Today the most suggestive subject painted repeatedly by Bartolini is the Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico), where those gables can be glimpsed through the centuries-old trees.

Leonardo Benevolo, 2007      

Giuseppe Bartolini, one of the most intense and rigorous Italian artists of our time, has, over the years, created a body of work of great expressive impact. Artistically shaped in the sixties, he continued relentlessly down the main path of painting, which today is often considered unfeasible, experimenting with its pictorial language in all the richness of its possibilities.                      

Carla Benedetti, 2006


Old abandoned cars, riddled with rust, emptied, with singed components, wires that dangle like dried up veins, webs of wrinkles, bruises, stigmata. A blazing whiteness suspends them, turns them into agonized beings that have come to slowly die in the silence excavated by light. This series of paintings (1999-2006) constitutes a “bestiary” of great emotional power.                                       

Carla Benedetti, 2006


In your paintings natural objects, referring to a sacred and ancient culture, like the Tower of Pisa, overlap with modern objects of the fifties or sixties. For example, in your paintings there are many wires and few neon signs; television sets are completely absent but cars are copious. Very often you represent the modernity of your generation: trucks, trains, cities alternating ancient roof tiles and metal chimneys. Technical objects of your childhood or adolescence are often portrayed when they start deteriorating or are already ruined. All this refers to a memory dimension that is implicit in some stages of your work and induces contemplation. I am tempted to propose a psychoanalytical reading.

Guido Mazzoni, 2006

The studio, in which Bartolini creates most of his art, explains the deep humanity of his rusting car carcasses, his love for the botanical garden in Pisa and its decadence, and also allows you to understand the style of painting that he practiced twenty or thirty years ago.

Philippe Daverio,  2004


In recent times his eye has been captured by the magic of old locomotives that were abandoned on dead-end tracks, by the designs that the railway pylons draw on the pristine and deep sky, by rusty cars, symbols of the passage of time in our lives that are constantly changing, and yet remain the same.

Arialdo Ceribelli, 1998  


 Bartolini and Luporini, Viareggio, 2011 (photo by Luciano Bonuccelli) 


In the work of Giuseppe Bartolini there is a wave of enduring silence, a feeling of emptiness of all space, and also skies, lands scattered with plasticized scents. The bare canvas is the backdrop for the apparitions on which reality is woven stitch by stitch.
By painting reality with singular clarity, Bartolini paints its crisis, its expansion and distension beyond certain limits. Presence becomes absence, light is no more perceptible light, but a glimmer of us sinking into ourselves.

Marco Goldin, 1998

A poem (and poetry) of “shape” – that is, the balance of spaces delineated on the canvas – is the premise of Giuseppe Bartolini’s art. “Realist”, cultured and great, as well as the inventor of “other things”, he is an interpreter of our creative relationship with the objects on which we distractedly lay our eyes day by day.

Piero Floriani, 1998

Giuseppe Bartolini has molded his life around painting: a love, an exclusive passion, that he acquired in his youth – when I met him – forever shaping his existence, imprinting itself on his work, his thinking, his choice of people, his friendships, and his continuously revolving around himself, his disappointedly questioning himself in his occasional crises, when work won’t proceed in the direction already taken and a new path has not yet presented itself.

Emilio Tolaini, 1998


Bartolini paints a roof, a building of the road authority (ANAS), a Vespa, and he does it ten, no, a hundred times. Not so much (or not only) to reach absolute formal precision, but because he wants to touch the 'heart' of that roof, of that building, of that scooter, beyond any sentimentalism, any illustrative gratification, any mannered symbolism.

Franco Marcoaldi, 1998


A "Candlestick" painted in 1959 and the "Campo Santo" (monument of Pisa) of 1960, are, among others, the paintings that reveal the outset of the artist’s strong personality, but also the clues of his quick emotion when a reflection of light transforms the solemn wall of the ancient monument into an opalescent layer of paint...

Carlo Sisi, 1998


Giuseppe Bartolini is a great artist and a great friend of mine. We've spent decades playing chess with the Duomo and the Tower (of Pisa). Others play chess with a computer, he only plays with light.

Stefano Tomassini, 1997


Bartolini is an old-school painter, who paints as if he is etching, just like certain artists of the most significant artistic movements of northern Europe. He respects the painting and the audience, because he works on it over a long time with many layers of paint that produce a soft image once the color has dried.

Valerio Meattini, 1996


In his pondered and intimist painting, the illustrations of landscapes of Pisa, the city in which he resides, is exceptional and very personal, besides the representation of objects, especially mechanical ones, removed from their context in searing physical evidence. Here the symbols of an old monumental presence of established appeal are placed in the clear background, emerging behind a foreground of dense vegetation.

Rossana Bossaglia, Corriere della sera 1990


 With his friend Pietro Perusini, Pisa studio, 2005 (photo Mélen)

For almost fifteen years the painter Bartolini tried to reproduce with his brushes the picture that his eyes see from his balcony: The leaves are leaves, painted one by one, the objects seem to lose their reality because they are studied, researched and understood; the sky is a sky, as it is in poetry; and the sky is beautiful when so much care is invested: to sum it up in one word, intense.

Riccardo di Donato, 1988

Bartolini is static, sealed, incorruptible. The essence of his vision of things is in the stillness that seeps from the rocks to the leaves. From the impressionists to De Pisis, what moved nature, buildings, even decaying places of an industrial periphery, seizes up in a glassy motionlessness, where not even the air moves.
Starting from Sironi, Bartolini reaches Donghi, who couldn’t paint a landscape where the wind moved the leaves. But Bartolini’s process, filtered through a photographic image, is the most illusory display. Painting makes nature itself become abstract in its execution. Even the sky, the empty space, and the skyline behind the many trees are something other than they appear to be; they are ways of understanding the space of a premeditated balance between the elements.
Bartolini doesn’t see, he foresees, he predetermines the reality before him and then produces its secret essence. Therefore his is not faithfulness to what is real, but to what can’t be seen of reality.

Vittorio Sgarbi, 1988


From thick urban vegetation that nowadays is unexpected, unusual, surprising, a precious presence of the city emerges.

Stefano Piccioli, 1988 

The art of Bartolini captures the mystery of everyday routine, without dissolving it, and without resolving it. Mystery is the only thing clearly declared, making it impenetrable but obvious, inaccessible and practiced.
The meaning, that Bartolini gives an absolute respect for the specific is something else. The rigorous accuracy of images on the lithographic stone (or on the canvas) answers to, above all, a need for interior order: the need to extract (or to abstract) an essential and, I would say, metaphysical image from the percived information, of untranslatable otherness.

Nicola Miceli, 1986


The paintings of Giuseppe Bartolini, though very clear, luminous, intact and resonant, contain a subtle pain; from the soft, uniform sky, the absence of people, the beauty that even the lowest and most corroded objects contain and show, from the immobility of it all exudes a bitter melancholy, as if it was suspended and merged with the light. Loneliness lives in these places, penetrates the cracks of the pictures, and becomes one with the shapes.
The sky is monotonous, immense and liquid; it is not natural or romantic, but a blue that is a void, a mirror of supreme indifference.
The white monuments of Pisa do not represent reality or the landscape, they are the deceptive ghosts that show a glimmer of the darkness of the elements, of the hidden reality of objects.

Roberto Tassi, 1984


In his paintings, I perceive a joyful impulse rather than anguish, a life pushing beyond the frozen image which is limpid, immobile, crystal clear and bright; A life which continues from inside, from the minutiae by which reality is investigated between leaf and leaf, shadow and shadow, vapor cloud and vapor cloud, and is hardly breathing, like awakening in the morning... for the quality of the light, which mysteriously contains a grain of clarity, something like a purity. In some works the illusion is more complicated, when you discover that the image – the Botanical Garden, the monuments, the sky – is thinly veiled, as if by transparent, superimposed glass, the screen of illusions.

Roberto Tassi, 1983


I saw Giuseppe Bartolini’s exhibition in Bologna last February: the halls were silent, as if the people in front of the paintings were asking themselves how one can paints like this nowadays.
The botanical garden (Orto Botanico), the dome of the cathedral (of Pisa), a grey and blue sky, eternal like Simone Martini’s indigo … over the objects that are captured “forever”, as if they were monuments and relics of a supreme civilization, the imponderable descends from the sky.
Like Morandi, Bartolini desires for paintings to establish relations, to indicate directions, to claim a role, to proclaim the right to look at the marvels behind every wall.
… the holm-oak and the palm are rooted in a time without future or past: the eternal present of Ozenfant.

Giuliano Gresleri, 1982, Parametro


Looking at the paintings of Giuseppe Bartolini, one can trace the alchemies of estrangement, and the tacit boundaries of life’s enigmas. It is not important that he portrays the Botanical Gardens of Pisa: the way he portrays it is important. To enter an enigmatic painting, (even if it is concretely enigmatic) one must free oneself from the ambiguity of mimesis: it is not a desperate, losing battle with photography. It is instead a solicitation of reality to the point of operating at its limit.

Roberto Pasini, 1981


Mystery is the only thing that is declared outright in the works of Bartolini and it is as impenetrable as it is obvious, inaccessible and habitual.

Franco Solmi, 1981


We would like to suggest to Bartolini to enter his decals of nature: … which, painted in this manner, means moving towards the eye of one’s own conscience.

Giovanni Testori, 1980, Il Corriere della Sera


If there is a truth of locations, Bartolini did certainly not perceive it by mimesis. Perhaps, it would be better to say that he created it, with growing intensity.

Pier Carlo Santini, 1980


In Bartolini’s eyes a plant, a wall, an object that we wouldn’t even notice, is not only frozen in time, but seems magnified.

Marcello Venturoli, 1976


Bartolini does not believe in objects as much as he believes in emotions, in moods..

Lorenza Trucchi, 1974, Momento-sera


It is from this firm outlook on things that Bartolini will be able to advance – without betraying his innate lyricism – the ongoing conflict between nature and technology, to which his paintings seem to be the prelude.

Duilio Morosini, 1974, Paese Sera


And so, looking deeper, we realize how heavily psychological pressure weighs, but I would say in a positive way, on Bartolini’s whole body of work.

Dino Carlesi, 1971


In the works of Giuseppe Bartolini, instances of Pop-Art and Op-Art appear to take form in the simple evidence of truth and its image. The object redemption and the optical-mental mechanisms of vision which become “expressive form”, are here reintegrated to adhere to phenomenon reality: it is the control of the ambiguities of space and light, that make their presence “new” … The Artist moves, with great clarity, on the edge between the illusion of intimacy and formal mannerism, thus attaining the delicate and very precious objective of a reality entirely transformed into image: that is, a shape and a mirror of the human condition. The avant-garde reasons become real in the artwork, not programmatic or programmed. Ideas and wishes ripen slowly in paintings: in order to outlast, as poetic messages, the statements and inventions of the current culture.

Franco Russoli, 1966




Translation by Carlo Gonfiantini