Gran Corsa series - Portofino


Portofino. 30 x 23 inches. Acrylic, newsprint and pen on canvas.

The prismatic canvases which comprise Gran Corsa d'Italia series represent a cultural metamorphosis. Each is anchored via an original newsprint front page - that of the noted Italian sports journal La Gazzetta dello Sport; itself first published on April 3, 1896. Much like 'L'Auto' of 2010, these time-spun tableaux each pay homage to a bicycle race - here, not the Tour de France instigated by L'Auto owner Henri Desgrange, but rival Grand Tour - The Giro d'Italia.

Spanning a period beginning in 1949, and ending in the mid 1960s, application of these bygone typographical masterpieces, here specific to cycling road racing, locates the artwork firmly within a period romantically referred to as 'La Dolce Vita' ('the sweetness of life', as depicted by film director Federico Fellini, in 1960). As a consequence, each mixed-media canvas tells more than one story. In simple black and white ink-on-paper we witness the heroic dueling of many 'combattenti di riciclaggio' (Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, Hugo Koblet among them), against which an emerging background of translucent paint layers provides a vibrant, polychromatic vista - this Italy's culturally-rich metamorphosis from post-war austerity to a new landscape of open prosperity and optimism - somewhat resonant within our present times, with its own stream of front page neo-realism.

The rose-tinted pastures of the Gazzetta cast light on these new gods, whose heroic exploits embrace an idealism in-synch with a quantum mood shift - one epitomised by Fellini's 1960 masterpiece.
All artwork and images © James Straffon 2017.