3 – Giuseppe Brigoni
A trait d‘union between the urban life outside and the calm of the internal garden, the large entrance vestibule is one of the finest rooms on the ground floor. In this place of passage and connection, the two great high reliefs by Giuseppe Brigoni face each other, forming an aesthetic dialogue.
Born in Medole in 1901 to a peasant family, Brigoni is one of the greatest interpreters of the rural and bucolic aspect among the Mantuan artists. Having initially studied in Prassitele Barzaghi’s Milanese atelier, he then joined the studio of the great symbolist master Leonardo Bistolfi, where he developed a personal style that would have great impact. An experimenter who loved to research new methods, Brigoni would go on to perfect the technique learned from his fellow soldier Cafiero Luperini during military service: the black and white graffito on wax and carbon black “scratched” with the tip of a needle in the end of a straw. He passed this personal development, along with other secrets of the trade, on to his artist friends (such as Carlo Imperatori, Guglielmo Cirani, and Alessandro Dal Prato), as well as to his pupils at the schools in Botticino and Guidizzolo.
These two works from the 1920s offer glimpses of the intimacy and frankness of his art, in which the material dimension of the countryside is immediately present. An intimate and timely link between intuition and expression, between the moment of captatio and that of giving oneself, seems to reach a temporally precise synthesis in the form here. In other words, they offer themselves to the viewer at the same time, representing not so much the force unleashed by the work of ploughing the earth or the more intimate but equally energetic work of milking in the small family barn, but the silence between two actions: an intervention that finds its cinematic counterpart in that small transparent strip between two frames. Thus, Brigoni’s works create a particular space, in a dialectic between the poles of the “group” and of the most intimate sphere. Let’s look at the case of Aratura. In the two-part division of the work, with the mechanistic force embodied in the tractor on the right and the “group” on the left, our attention can’t help but settle on the group of heads that is reminiscent of a treatment from almost Roman times that “unifies” the group, surely not just familial, and that amounts to a very clear declaration of values. In the other scene of rural life, La Mungitura, Brigoni works the plaster with extraordinary homogeneity and complexity. The work goes beyond any paratactic logic to develop around and together with the central figure, the focal point of the whole circle of human or animal presences. The internal structure of the piece seems to focus on the woman, creating moments of reading together (on the left) or last chore of the day (the husband intent on milking on the right). Although not participating in any scene represented here, the woman is the cornerstone of the whole piece, without which the whole structure (aesthetic, physical, and domestic) would collapse.