Al Ragno d'Oro - notes for Vincenzo Piazza, 1996, Nicola Manfredi

We often went to dinner at Il Ragno d'Oro restaurant, under a pergola leaning against the walls of the Albornoz fortress, which, open only in the evening, served no more than two or three local dishes. We were attracted by various reasons: the coolness of the site, the few customers, little shopping, the large portions and, above all, a waitress who seemed drawn by Faulkner's pen. Tightened in a short floral dress, she had sun-dark skin and two round breasts that did not fall even when she bent to lengthen her reach. Her thighs and breasts, generously offered, uprooted my eyes. Her face always appeared frowning, almost as if she wanted to show everyone that she was a waitress, but one day she would leave, and then ... Then the beans with pork rinds - as an aspiring lithographer I thought it my duty to face the most varied tests of strength and such a dish in a very hot July was - and the conversation with Vincenzo Piazza diluted the gazes turned to the erotic, surly muse into more myths and artistic horizons.

It is from these few beautiful evenings of 1989 that the custom with Piazza engraver was born. We both attended Carlo Ceci's lithography course in Urbino, I to learn the art of printing, he to try it as an art form. I think he was disappointed. He had designed and made a sunflower with the technique of engraved lithography, one of the most difficult. I don't remember how it was printed. However, it seems to me that it was an unsuccessful digression from the groove he had already taken, that of the real, intaglio engraving.

I got to know the Piazza's engravings later, a little at a time. I own some, some others I have been lucky enough to commission from him, some I have printed, I have seen all of them published. I noticed a growing coherence in the expressive choices. The dotted language, or with thin threads, which is not dense and coarse hatching, but a very light and fine touch, always bitten by etching for roofing, has gradually become more imperceptible and refined in adding up to form blacks. No haze or gray backgrounds, but black ink graduated from the marks and clean white of the sheet. Gone are the sunflowers, the cold Escher-like games of fictitious perspectives, the subjects on commission, which sadden the vein of those engravers not already tied for their poor taste to the trite artificial compositions of objects in the studio, or to ostentatious and sterile Morandian subjection: little by little the sense of a magical realism, of a romantic Mediterranean leisure has crept into the plates of Piazza that first made him abandon here and there in the image roses, chairs, gowns, other simple objects but of a mysterious tone, then he pushed to blow the wind above them, to mess them up, to make those personal poetic symbols fly towards the uncertainty of universal understanding, emerging from perspectives now so happily unhinged with a hint of distorted expression, but still contained in rationality, perhaps a legacy of studies of architecture. The stars have appeared, with a conventionality of form that suggests, at first glance, banality, while I think they are nothing more than the manifestation to the layman of the spell dust that spreads over the everyday for Piazza.

Piazza engraves with seriousness, modesty and passion, does not seek acclaim or easy money, even if both, by artists of all kinds and printers are never despised as such, but is still one of those engravers in which the pleasure of discovering something new and beautiful in oneself always prevails, superior to what has been done until then.

I haven't seen this friend in years. We feel by letter, I often receive small engravings, easy to send without being damaged and that I like more and more. I don't know who he's become by now, but his papers tell me he's getting better all the time.