This painting also belongs to the ‘Arthur Rimbaud au Harrar’ series and was shown for the first time, along with the other piece, at the Fundación ”la Caixa” exhibition hall in Madrid and the CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain in Bordeaux. As the artist himself has confessed, he is interested in working on series dealing with the same subject and based on a single project in order to create “a family of sorts” with the paintings. In this piece, as in the earlier one of the same series, Cucchi recreates a landscape saturated with colour to once again evoke the desert that Arthur Rimbaud travelled for years, as well as the stifling climate he had to endure, which he always complained about in his letters: “I have become accustomed to living on tiredness; but if I am forced to get as tired as I have so far and to feed on suffering as vehement as it is absurd in these terrible climes, I fear that my life may be cut short” (Harar, May 25th, 1881). The allusion to Rimbaud is far more explicit in this painting than in the previous one, since Cucchi has attached a reconstruction of the street sign for the Rue Arthur Rimbaud in Harar to the canvas. The sign had hung in the same place for many years, but was finally destroyed as a result of the military uprising in Ethiopia in 1974. The sign is in Aramaic, which aroused Cucchi’s interest both for its obvious links to Rimbaud and, most importantly, because he regarded it as a kind of cultural sign, given how this was the language spoken by Jesus Christ. As in many other paintings of this period, Cucchi uses a highly defined image—in this case, the street sign; in others it might be a figure or simply a face—that hovers over a landscape, allowing him to entertain different pictorial solutions and even, in some cases, add sculptural elements. At the same time, he introduces allegorical aspects, explicit or allusive, to refer us—as he does in this series—to a journey and a territory constructed from the poet’s words. At the time, and as a result of the ideas espoused by the Italian Transavanguardia, painting rediscovered the pleasure in itself, opened up to its own beat and yet allowed the emergence of a tragic awareness and a certain touch of irony that are particularly evident in Cucchi’s work.
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