Art critic (1989)
… Taking up a livelier and more topical research, with a style of execution that reflects an austere conception of his craft, Botticelli has set out to discover new truths on the human condition, depicting characters that are indistinguishable from fantasy and dreams, applying placid chromatic elaborations in subdued shades and a meticulous drawing technique, carefully balancing lights and shades, transferring onto canvas and paper his impassioned wonder and, often, enchanted amazement.
Botticelli’s artistic development derives from a complex ancestry, which he controls with sensitive attention through which transpire his perceptions, emotions, desires and hidden apprehensions.
Logical and cultured at one time, his painting, tending as it does towards spiritual aspirations, urges the viewer to serious reflection.
The organic solo exhibition organized last year at the Palazzo dei Priori by the Office for the Promotion of Culture of the city of Fermo offered an all-round display of the pleasant evolution of Botticelli’s pictorial language, bringing to light its interior spirituality.
In her presentation to the exhibition, Alessandra Nibbi remarked that Botticelli “sincerely strives to understand the meaning of the existence of man against the backdrop of space. Man limited by time is often represented together with the infinity of space. This communicates a strong feeling of loneliness, isolation, and even sadness.”
By openly perceiving the apprehensions, the anxieties, the sorrows peculiar to our time, and frequently proposing them in his more recent works, Botticelli, as remarked by the critic Francesca Soldani in an insightful review, transcribes “an original story that fantastically manages to maintain the integrity of the figure of man, his stability and his balance in the cosmic universe”.
Egyptologist of European fame (1989)
Serafino Botticelli is a young artist from the Marche region of Italy who sincerely strives to understand the meaning of the existence of man against the backdrop of space.
Man limited by time is often represented together with the infinity of space.
This communicates a strong feeling of loneliness, isolation, and even sadness.
His works offer a valid expression of a mood that also elicits compassion, despite the cerebral style of presentation.
For this reason his paintings are works of undoubtable artistic value.
Painter and Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome (1989)
Dear Serafino, reading a passage from Pessoa I was reminded of your paintings, which always show a little man lost in the depths of cosmic space.
The relationship with the microcosm which so often appears in your works finds an analogy in an extraordinary passage by Pessoa, which is the following: “Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world, and since it is the spirit that is travelling, it is in the spirit that we live. That is why there are contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived purely externally.
The end result is what matters.
What we felt is what we experienced. One returns from a dream as weary as one returns from hard labour. One never lives so intensely as when one has been thinking hard.”
Art critic (1989)
Botticelli’s pictorial communication is not easily understood, even though it is visually effective; it is a dramatic expression of tension that invites the mind to pause and examine in detail the reasons behind the thorough and purposeful execution of certain actions, when adversities, forced necessities and deviations, whether chosen or imposed, contrast the peaceful conduction of one’s existence.
The expressions of some of his characters, the monochrome of some of his compositions, do not diminish the artist’s sensitivity, but rather allow him to adjust that particular language more appropriately to his meditations.
Art critic (1990)
When everyday relativity turns from the joyful participation in life into an escape into interiority, then, day after day, almost as if by contrast, one feels the need for “otherness” and for the commonplace.
This leaves only two possibilities: either one tries to critically analyze the causes of a crisis that is not merely subjective in order to identify a personal error of relationship, or one tries to determine and understand — and resolve — the more general reasons at the basis of the crisis.
For Serafino Botticelli the problem lies deeper, so much as to disconnect him from his own personal issues, and propel him, ideally and spiritually, towards the very origins of man, revealing the contemporary spiritual crisis and denouncing the existential drama determined by a society that is heedless and neglectful of values once considered universal.
And so he sensibly feigns a leap into the future; but the leap forward is actually the search for the universal spirit of the world, the reproposal of the centrality of man and of his existential solitude.
This centrality is not to be understood as a return to old-style humanism, but as the anthropocomplementarity of the whole of creation, expressed with quiet, subtle lyricism, where the sentient being enjoys the ability to actively comprehend his own evolution in the world and the delight of perceiving the sublime Harmony of which he is a privileged, conscious part.
It is consequential then for the artist to undertake a journey that is both mystical and rational, in which he must abandon himself in order to establish a deeper feeling with the universe by which he is surrounded, dominated and accompanied in an endless and timeless progression aimed at sublimating his own personal history, which is the history of mankind, reconsidering, like a new soul offering itself to the world, the authenticity and originality of his spatio-temporal limitation, a tiny speck in the whirl of totality that incessantly builds up and breaks down, without end.
And in the particular essentiality of human nature that is qualitatively expressed he reveals his renewed love for humanity, and the spiritual tension that, although sometimes enfeebled, constantly drives mankind towards a destiny that transcends all mundane contingency to soar up high — a minuscule dot of awareness — into the arms of the Absolute.
For the artist, that Absolute is the love of true beauty and true good that rises above, to better understand it, the individual but universal tragedy of man, in view of a new and fairer relationship.
Thus, in the sidereal silence that seems to emerge from a light beyond time and space, we can almost hear the sound of the primordial “breath” that gave birth to the contemporary dynamism of being.
Botticelli, as if to render it incorruptible and immune from time, appropriates the work of man, extracting it from the history of the world, and carries it into a spatio-temporal dimension: a necessity, the possibility of a genuine, exciting message, entrusted to the indistinct waves of the infinite sea that permeates and dominates everything.
And so old fountains and ancient cathedrals seem to come to life with the spirit of man, eternal testimony to the tension for the Absolute that has always animated the heart of man.
But from this can only come, through the events of the present, the thought of tomorrow, of the future of man, rediscovering the drama of his solitude.
Closed inside his spatio-temporal spacecraft, man goes on a journey in search of the “Other” outside his own world: an unconscious hope, the desire for countless “Others” with which to share, despite one’s limitations, the exhilarating feeling of being.
Botticelli seems to consider this a remote possibility, showing the “Other” as a form that proceeds along an endless path that is far from the routes of man: a subtle, moving suggestion to take a closer look at our brothers and at all that pertains to man, with a renewed feeling of love; the love and spirituality that we have placed at the basis of human activity, the premise of a universal transcendent end.
by Francesca Pietracci
Art historian and independent curator (2006)
During the late 1970s Serafino Botticelli started to produce almost exclusively works in which there appears a human being situated in an “other” spatio-temporal setting. From that time on his works seem to have never strayed from this theme: an obsessive, unending quest that takes him to explore every minimal possibility, to conceptually face the topic of the boundary, the perceptual obstacle, the presence of dimensions that are sensed to be contiguous to normal everyday life.
Botticelli’s is not so much a discourse about the future as a journey based on a personal definition of otherness. A slightly stylized male figure and a curved line are the constants that return in almost all his works. The figure portrays an abstract self, an observer of new horizons, disoriented and disorienting, estranged, alien. The curved line may represent the horizon of a space-time variable, a road that allows to travel through time or to inhabit time ubiquitously in disregard of the spatial dimension. The physical location is in fact fixed, as is space, which becomes a condition of being, a mental perception, a place of immobility, a neutral position, the venue of all possible beginnings and endings. In prevailing white and blue hues the atmosphere is represented as closely linked to the concept of water, from the gaseous state to the solid state of ice, and to crystallized formations, frozen pyramids, a series of natural architectures, prisms that imprison, or preserve, the human figure. The water element, from which should arise life and hence all becoming, as well as all animal and plant species, is it too presented in its fixity, in a primitive or final state, virtual but not actual. Under a sense of infinity and expectation, a human being reflects on his possible fate and on the chance of meeting, on the level of the mind or of the senses, any other creature that, like him, has managed to cross the barriers of time and space, prison and impediment to Knowledge. But when another presence can barely be perceived, one gets the feeling that it is the same being who, even in his immobility, tries to draw near following a parallel path, a path on which there is no chance of converging, of meeting.
Yet, although irreversibly alone and standing motionless on expanses of ice, one can still direct one’s eyes and mind towards a great source of light, a bright, cold star rising over the horizon like a giant sun. This sense of dawning, of inception, characterizes all the works of Botticelli, allowing a wide range of possible interpretations and encouraging to reconsider one’s existence from a different point of view. The suggestion is to assume a multiple point of observation, the complex result of a synthesis between the inside and the outside. The space of the mind is represented as an external environment, the visible world. Outer space, instead, becomes the human being’s condition as seen from outside planet Earth, outside the conventions of time and space, outside history. Nothingness and the Absolute gradually coincide and overlap, suggesting a possible theogony and many possible worlds, all reverberating from the same core of development. Within this simple but brave discourse involving weighty matters there can be found a variety of cultural and scientific suggestions, thoughts and doubts that have crossed the history of mankind, tiny openings that can lead to endless suppositions. And yet the artist sets along this path starting from his own personal questions, from the uneasiness universally felt by human minds when dealing with an inside and outside, a before and after, a possible definition of motion and immobility in a system characterized by perpetual motion and the force of gravity.
Botticelli explores otherness starting from the perception of his own interiority. His oil paintings require a very long time to make, with repeated passes to apply minimally varying shades of white or signs of refraction, working on canvases that are usually very large and that in the end give the impression of being dematerialized, full of transparencies and hypnotic traces, sudden flashes containing tiny symbols painted using a magnifying glass and hardly perceptible to the naked eye.
In addition to all this, Botticelli also fits in with the great tradition of painting of the Marche region, which is characterized by constant metaphysical tension and intellectual disquiet which, in other times and following other modes, have left an evident mark in the works of Donato Bramante, Raphael, Vincenzo Pagani, Fortunato Duranti, Adolfo De Carolis and many others, up to Scipione, Gino De Dominicis, Enzo Cucchi and the photographer Mario Giacomelli.
“Adams: A Microcosm in Space-Time”
by Scialom Bahbout
Professor of Physics at the Sapienza University in Rome and Director of the Tifèreth Yerushalàim Academy of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem (2006)
According to the Kabbalah, when God created Adam his body occupied all of space and contained all future generations. Man was a concentrate of space and time, something that in physics might be assimilated to a black hole, where space and time lose all meaning.
When, following the primordial explosion, space and time began to unfold, man became a microcosm, an open world into which flows the history of the past and out of which flows the history of the future, an irreplaceable link in the chain that binds all generations, where past, present and future coexist and are almost indistinguishable from one another, where the past – according to the rules of biblical Hebrew – can become the future, and vice versa.
Moving through space-time with helicoidal motion, mankind has begun a journey that will lead to a point where space and time present the same features. Not the Einsteinian space-time continuum in which time is a coordinate similar to the space coordinates, but a space-time in which space becomes like time, inclusive and non exclusive: just as a moment in time can be simultaneously experienced by a plurality of persons, so space will be occupied by multiple entities.
Travelling in space – even interplanetary space – has become reality. Travelling in time, with one’s own body, still belongs to the world of imagination, but to artists – who can reflect every possible world – it is always granted.
“The Celibate Machine”
Man, a solitary being lost in the Cosmos? A being perhaps incompatible with the laws of the Universe, because of the infinity of his desire, the excessiveness of his intelligence aware of the fate he is doomed to? There are many clues that lead to this conclusion. But through a network of relationships, of filaments similar to a spider’s web suspended over the void, man tries to escape the disproportion between himself and the immeasurable vastness of the world. The city, friendship and love make up his fragile web. But man can end up being a prisoner, just like the spider, until he gets shakes off his web to build a new one in a space that offers no purchase. Then his dialogue with himself and infinity can resume, as if in a giant bottomless mirror. A celibate machine, whose adventure begins anew with a challenge and a gamble, and the loneliness of man in the Universe will be a risky journey on a tightrope spanning between the two extreme poles of desolation and awareness. Isn’t it because of this double/doubtful bet that men always break the bars they built themselves, the security in which they took refuge?
“Communication: Memory of the Future”
The social and cultural changes of the last decades have transformed the world into a close-knit web in which the chances of meeting the Other and the environment have been multiplied and modified in modes and content. The radical rationalization of life is a response to the attempt at denying value to the past and banning any possibility of an alternative future. For this reason, the culture of the present unfolds in an apparatus of rationalized structures that leave no empty space and infiltrate the innermost recesses of personal life. The constant labour of life does not call for revolutions or radical changes; on the contrary, it is reassuring. Reducing everything to the present, the contingent, the ephemeral, is culture’s attempt to fixate the status quo, the final attempt of society to preserve itself.
But the only society for which it is worthwhile to work is a society based on dialogue, in which an expanded community and intercultural exchange lay the grounds for redefining the relations between individuals and the social context.
Communication is the line that connects past and present and projects into the future ample space for awareness. Communication turns memory into a paradigm, a “rule of the game” governing the relationship between past and future, the representation of the present in the future, the recognition of the self in the other.
In the information society, with unlimited access to knowledge, communication is the means of awareness of the present and the memory function of the future.
“A Feeling for the Universal”
Serafino Botticelli is not only an artist with a solid technical and cultural background, as attested by his studies; he is not only an artist driven by the need to act and create, as shown by his work as a set designer; Botticelli is first and foremost an artist with an unmistakable touch, that while being sensitive and refined is also piercing and highly communicative.
Botticelli is an artist who uses his palette to give shape to a dream, a utopia, a yearning of the soul.
As he reconstructs on canvas the images of his inner landscape, he penetrates the secrets of things, finding in them, as well as in mankind – which remains his constant point of reference – the deepest aspects and meanings, where the appearances detected by the five senses are transfigured and exalted through the filter of the imagination, in an indefinable aura that belongs to the sphere of emotions that is called poetry but that is not without an analytical, rational study of the whole.
Observing his works it appears evident that the colour weaves, the accurate settings, the attention to detail, the taste for spatial constructions, are all born of an intelligent integration of sign, colour, symbol and light that defines the full and unique originality of a painter to be dealt with.
It is my belief that the felicitous combination of emotion and thought at the basis of the art of Serafino Botticelli is what guides his ability to create new forms, his inventive capacity to portray his world, his dreams, his hopes and his personal view of the universe.
by Lara Nuvoli
Art Critic (Rome, august 2018)
A man stands out on the event horizon. In a dimension of absolute light, of abysmal infinity, of everything. Serafino Botticelli is fascinated by the alpha and the omega of existence and aims his pictorial research in that direction. The artist of Marche origin focuses on the relationships of visual power that exist between the finiteness of man and the impossible expansion of the universe. His works are in fact characterized by a compositional dualism in which the relationship between us and the existing emerges in its disproportion in favor of all that is other than us. Although his works show a profound melancholy that is based on the awareness of the imperceptibility of our existence compared to the chronological depths of the aeons and the inconceivable vastness of space, a comforting and romantic feeling of the man shines through. Stimulated in this way to come back into harmonious contact with a whole of which it is a part and which at the same time dominates it.