Immagine&Poesia…Then and Now
Mary Gorgy Gregory
Immagine&Poesia is an international art movement founded in Turin, Italy in 2007 by a small group of poets and artists, including Aeronwy Thomas, Lidia Chiarelli, Gianpiero Actis and others, who believe that the power of the written word and the power of visual image, when joined, create a new work which is not only greater than the parts, but altered, enhanced, changed and magnified by the union. Since their founding, their ideas have spread and the group has grown to include a wide range of artists and writers from around the world—from fledgling painters, photographers, videographers and promising young poets to luminaries like Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Immagine&Poesia shares in a great heritage that includes many important movements. The manifesto of Surrealism was written by the poet/critic Andre Breton, and came to full voice in the imagery of Dali, de Chirico and Magritte. Dante Rosetti, the poet/painter, founded the Pre-Raphaelites, who found not only inspiration, but a higher truth in the poetry of Keats. Paul Klee wrote poetry; e. e. cummings painted. For which was Blake better known? Perhaps the greatest expression of the marriage is in the sister arts of poetry and painting that flowered in the Zen Buddhist art of China and Japan, including Zenga and the calligraphic works of the Edo period monks.
All art is inspired and informed by other art. It is difficult, indeed, to imagine a serious trend in art that has not found its echo in literature, or a meaningful direction in literature without a parallel path in the visual arts. How can art not reflect its own time and place, its unique world view, and be relevant? Or, as Yeats says, “How can we tell the dancer from the dance?”
It may be that in the beginning was the word, but art has never been far behind. Mankind’s first words were pictures—pictographs of men and animals, sun and moon. Lascaux’s cave paintings and aboriginal rock art tell us of a world where men dwelled among demons to be conquered and gods to be appeased, and life depended upon the success of the hunt. The walls of Egyptian temples employed pictures and hieroglyphs to tell of battles and kings, but their artistry and grace tell a greater story, one of a culture of elegance and refinement never before seen on earth. Renaissance cathedrals and chapels were decorated with scenes from the Gospels and the stories of beloved saints, and the architecture and art took the place of the written word for an illiterate congregation listening to prayers in a language they did not speak.
Throughout history, art and literature, especially poetry and song, its most itinerant form, have been the means for mankind to make his story known. No chronology of rulers or map of borders can tell of human joy and sorrow, longing and fulfillment, for these are the domain of poetry and art.
Immagine&Poesia has renewed the tradition of bringing together artists and poets to create new collaborations and in these collaborations reside new ideas, new vitality, and new ways of seeing. And being, as all relevant art is, a product of its own time, Immagine&Poesia uses new technologies to reach its audience. Through the use of digital imagery and global, always-on communications, artists from small towns in Asia can collaborate with poets in Europe. A painter from South America can join her image to the work of a poet from Wales, and not only will the work be changed by the experience, but both poet and artist will be, too. Like synaptic neurons firing together to form a thought, or tributaries flowing together to form a great river, the collaborations of artists and poets support, as Immagine&Poesia states in its manifesto, “activity, imagination, originality and research.” And through publishing these collaborations, Immagine&Poesia brings to art a new, 21st century, illuminated manuscript, a modern day Zenga to contemplate.
New York, 2010