by Pier Francesco Sciuto
The work of Lucio Saffaro (Trieste 1929 – Bologna 1998) has attracted much interest in the past and is still appreciated by mathematicians, artists and literary scholars for its ability to deploy itself in seemingly distant spheres. It’s enough to read a quick list of those who have dealt with him to realize the multiplicity of cultural perspectives converging in this singular personality of artist, writer and mathematician. Among the best known names: Giovanni Maria Accame, Luciano Anceschi, Francesco Arcangeli, Giulio Carlo Argan, Renato Barilli, Maurizio Calvesi, Giovanni Carandente, Flavio Caroli, Marisa Dalai Emiliani, Andrea Emiliani, Michele Emmer, Luigi Lambertini, Gérard-Georges Lemaire, Pietro Luxardo Franchi, Giuseppe Marchiori, Lara Vinca Masini, Filiberto Menna, Giorgio Odifreddi, Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, Giuseppe Raimondi, Silvio Ramat, Paul Ricoeur, Franco Russoli, Walter Tega, Marisa Volpi Orlandini, Bruno Zevi.
The current anthological exhibition in Bologna, Viaggio verso l’ignoto, offers a broad overview of Saffaro’s pictorial and graphic production. A production aimed at combining art and scientific scruple in a tight succession of works, corresponding to as many projects, experiments, verifications. A physics graduate, Saffaro does not limit himself, like most academically trained scholars, to a sectorial path, consistent with his curriculum. On the contrary, he leverages his scientific background to expand the horizons of possible explorations, alternating between pictorial and literary and multimedia research. The principle that guides him in his paths is the search for an inner and metaphysical dimension, common to the various fields he frequents. Mathematical-geometric rigor is combined with a plural vision of reality, and the results are fascinating. The most disturbing aspect is the emptiness that envelops the subjects represented and described, whether these are architectural elements or pure polyhedral forms. Their consistency seems to depend on an unusually icy coloring, capable of emphasizing their degree of separation from reality. Saffaro’s is a parallel universe in which the same laws of ours apply, purified of all accidentality and contingency.
The exhibition Viaggio verso l’ignoto. Lucio Saffaro tra arte e scienza, curated by Claudio Cerritelli and Gisella Vismara, is on view from May 26 to September 24, 2023 in Bologna, Palazzo Fava. The catalog, with texts by the curators and Bruno D’Amore, is published by Bologna University Press.
On homepage: three lithographs by Lucio Saffaro displayed in the exhibition "Viaggio verso l'ignoto" (photo © Elettra Bastoni). Below: the catalog cover.