Walter Morando is the greatest living artist in Italy for representing and aesthetically exalting all that pertains the dying harbours. He lives on the top floor of an old building facing a spectacular panorama: the harbour of Savona in the North of Italy 30 miles west of Genoa, on the famous Riviera. In this town he was born and ever since the port has been the stage of his life, the symbol of human effort, the launching platform for the trip of the mind. Outsailing ships, in coming ships in a whirling of destinies among iron plates, under the hot sun in the rain in the wind and storms. As other artists have loved the sea Morando loves this “ships-station”. Not so much a passenger harbour but a cargo harbour, in its prosaic, hard objective aspect. However even if the choice of his art may seem quite unusual, it affects us., we the consumers of video cameras, recorders and computers. In his art there is no rethorical romanticism, no revival of folklores or of the picturesque. The incentive to this sort of creation is entirely psochological, it deals with a need of individualization. Apparently Morando proposes a lexicon of shapes and structures hooks, chains, plates and so on he shows essentially the beauty and the truth of the primary shapes of the “homo faber”. His is an operation of industrial or harbour archeology. The effective spring is of an anthropological character. The simmering of the soul is for him but a creative alchemical condition an artistical fire that transforms itself into the myth of depth the need of liberation from the oppressive coecion of the technological world.
Earth, water, fire and air the main elements of the alchemical process presiding the ceramical opus, enforced by an “ingobbi” chemistry, by opaque and bright enamel, melting oxides and other skilful and secret devilries. Morando’s technique never appears an end in itself but it becomes a story “wrought” in and on the material. Cracks and erosions transfer to his work the notion of time. Splittings and frictions refer to the motility of the things. Roughness thickness and caressing areas, hollow spaces tansmute the ironlike structures into a tactile and persuasive corporeity. Chains, hooks, shackles, bolts, ropes, cog wheels, stirrups as if in a metamorphosis take the breezes of the metafisical and the unreal. In this way an imaginary plasticity is born rich in meanings. This makes every memory slide into the functionality of the objects leading them to an archaic level; that in which the violent beauty of the materials is strongly exhibited. There is a realism of the object close to its iperealism but in hidden way it shows, on one side its unreality, on the other its own cosmical shapelessness, the «Mitopoiesi» of the binomial material-image. All this is hown by Morando with the ingenious ability of the artisan and side by side with the scultural quality and cunning of the artist. In other words, his works coagulate, with spontaneous and simple liveliness, the fluctuating level of the psychic existence with a sentimental veil of memories (the tormented technological harbour, the sign of an heroic period). The sociality of Morando’s works is not just in the mannered polupism, but in the perception that comes out from a human and historical destiny which is a battle between shape shapelessness and non shapes. We, the inhabitants of an informatic and technotronical era, need to recover the “young age” of our technological epoch. This is an unconscious and collective need but only the gushing sensibility of an artist can capture the aesthetical vibrations that make this pulsation iridescent.

The tools that Morando reproposes create more values: the work, the land, the sea erosion. Thick, rough or fine clays, dark or light, smooth or porous areas, oxides and glazes, grès and majolica and “ingobbio” a wide range of mixtures and of tactile sensations. Morando’s typologies are manifold. His plates, big and small, welcome hooks and knots and cordages and an almost dramatic moulding gives a bright and spotted convexity. The chains, porous and glazed, express their own fluidity, an idea of power and captivity. Other harbour tools speak a language rich in intrinsic iconography, now referring to a zoomorphism bordering on to an anthropomorphism, with a magic charge. Morando, in works of high plastic originality, has also recreated in ceramic light houses, with rotating lights, elements of great impact in the architectural environment. There are still ships with complicated shapes, enclosing in their volumes the phenomenology of manifold tools, so that the result is surrealistic pastiche of structures, of curbs, tangled excrescences with clear and ironic effects to all this you must add one look to the bollards, hatchways, shackles in a unique “ironlike forest”. But not last the containers full of humanity: cold boxes with freezing and rational colours, structured with a vague pop art taste. Recently Morando has enlarged his production. In the harbours the unirigging ships are cut into pieces; and so those plates, in which you can find the history of a thousand trips, have been remade by this artist into a malleable and sensible material, cellulose. It’s fibrousness allows the making of both flat surfaces and polymorphic structures, as if to say “miming” the asperites of the pieces of plate. They appear in high relief breached or distorted, casual, with shapes of rusty bolts, obtained by iron oxide and manganese moulded with mixed technics, in a real picturial alchemy. These pieces of false plate, with either vivid or dark colours and strewn with signs which are also casual, are sometimes closed in plexiglass caskets, with an extraniating effect. How shall we call this wide range of works by Walter Morando? In this mechanized time and world they are almost “schizomorphs”. As if for a omeopatic cure the artist gives us his strong world in which the fire pulses and you are given hard iron like sinews of mixed materials beyond their informality trying to catch the enchanted atmosphere that gives life to the original womb of the Being. Riccardo Barletta
Milano, 2 marzo 1992