Paolo Carosone

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Maurizio Calvesi

TEXTS > Writings on the Artist

Graphics are becoming more and more popular and interest the public all the more because they also solve the difficult problem of bringing the duality products of modern art within range of the average pocket. It do not, however, hold that mass-production is their sole raison d'Ítre. Lithography may sometimes be merely a means of reproduction, but engraving has a fascination all its own, connected with technical achievement and the intensity of the return this has to offer. I would even go as far as to call this fascination an " alchemistic " survival - using the word in its spiritual and philosophical sense. The fascination remains unchanged whether we consider traditional, pure etchings or the results achieved by the various and free techniques to which we are becoming accustomed thanks to the modern experimenters.
I was delighted to hear that the Danish Academy in Rome had invited Paolo Carosone (who has been working and studying at the School of Graphics of the Copenhagen Academy since 1962) to show his engravings, as I believe that his work is of twofold interest. First, technically, he is in line with the experimentation and spread of the use of the new resources which, as I have already had occasion to point out, should rightly be presented as having its own place in Engraving, alongside the handing-down and appreciation of traditional processes which remain fundamental. Secondly, his work is of interest as expression, in that Carosone does not use engraving for reproduction, but exclusively to achieve a given return and duality of the image.
It should be clear that we do not, in this way, wish to make any absolute statements and certainly have no intention of denying that reproduction is one of the prime essentials of engraving, providing it is kept within the restricted limits of the number of copies an engraver of class can allow to be run off. All we wish to do is provide an example of how engraving can be understood as pure expression. All the more so, today, when new expedients are available to make the use of colour easily accessible, and, in certain sectors of the art of the youngest generation, use is being made of certain elements derived from the mass-media of communication, in which the photographic image has pride of place. Engraving not only appears to be the most suitable of the graphic arts to assimilate and orchestrate such borrowings from the reporter's field (whether they be informative, ironical or surrealist in tone), but is certainly the technique which allows the greatest degree of uniformity between the different factors of image and sign. And this is what Carosone is doing when he puts several plates together to composes a single print. He can thus reduce to a common denominator (the impression on the paper) the signs and images proper to etching, aquatint and engraving, monotype prints, insertions (metallic relief) and photographic images. In fact, an osmosis is achieved between photogravure and engraving techniques: Carosone has even studied a kind of photographic aquatint. As can be seen, his technique is eminently inventive. It does not smack of coincidence (precisely because he has invented the coincidence) and is not rigidly conceived as a function of a given method of printing. It is the printing method which, in practice, resolves the artist's concept of what is on the plate, i.e. co-ordinates the various technical inspirations. The fact that Carosone produces exclusively unique exemplars is thus the result of his technical inventiveness. He never repeats a print. This does not, how-ever, prevent him from re-using his plates in new forms, varying them by using different inks, and therefore colour combinations, re-working them and adopting different juxtapositions of the small matrices used in the preceding print. He may even put two or three prints together, and then unite them again, varying the positions and if necessary reworking them, using four, six, ten or more plates, in a process that emphasizes the continuity of his planning. Another prerogative of Carosone's way of conceiving engraving is the development of the " open " image. An " open " print is modified each time the author or so-called " exploiter " intervenes: engraving allows us to visualize the genesis and development of an image, an idea, or a series of images and ideas, in an endless chain.

(Calcografia Nazionale, Roma. Aprile-Maggio 1966 )


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