Andrea Acerbi - notes for A. Acerbi, 1995, Nicola A. Manfredi

Had he lived at the time of the knights and troubadours, they would have called him Andrea il Grosso, not to mock him in his physicality, but to mark the contrast with the feelings that ignite the desire to devote himself to art. Nor did Acerbi approach art because at a certain age he felt the need for models, as Achille Campanile claims happens for some. His appearing on the scene, making clear an activity hitherto cultivated as a small vice in his spare time, coincided with a halt in daily life which he would wish for the best enemy. So that the never completely dormant passion for drawing and painting was able, in the finally free hours, to rekindle and unfold without more restraints. Acerbi is a kind of enfant en retard for art.

The curiosity and the desire to create, which now torment him with continuity of commitment, pushed him to our printing house a few years ago. He remembered, from his time as a boy with the drawing master, something vague about etching, in general about engraving. And he came to us to look for a way that would give the best form to the reproduction of his sensibility. We have rarely met a "young" artist so enthusiastic and eager to penetrate the secrets of engraving and printing. After experimenting with etching, aquatint, traditional lithography, he was more attracted to linocut engraving, a technique that is quite rare among artists, and quickly appropriated the method. Having painted an oil picture, he wanted to translate it into linoleum to appreciate the differences in language. Found some congenial printed colors, he wanted to see more. Falling in love with a subject, he developed it thoroughly and then moved on to a new love. And it is this eagerness to prove that drove him from engraving to oil painting, from this to sculpture, to writing, to illustrated books. Where will he ever want to go?

Acerbi has a caricatural, grotesque streak, which is fully manifested in the scenes with figures. Perhaps memories of youth made ridiculous by time, memories of dance halls or closed houses. Naïve forms, but not so much, closer, in the prints, to a popular tone, from sheets of Epinal. Of course now, on the street or at the restaurant, I happen to see some "acerbi": some old gaga with dyed hair or a carampana who entrusts the idea of youth to a black collar.

Acerbi portrays, with a good eye in grasping the characteristic data of the person or animal, often arriving at pleasant syntheses. In the portrait of his father, in those of his mother, his wife, his dogs and perhaps the best of all, the portrait of Catherine. But the still lives with a dark background are also interesting, such as the woodcock, which recalls a certain painting of the seventeenth century.

Acerbi paints landscapes. Carried away by chromatic miracles he catches us in nature, he throws himself into romantic depictions of meadows and skies with a Turnerian flavor, paintings in which he often makes use of material additions.

Acerbi finally writes. Not sated with gouges and brushes, he faced this difficult art with the candor of a neophyte. The Free Songs and Il Giallo, written and illustrated by him, precisely summarize his being a magmatic artist: sometimes grotesque and primitive, others sentimental, romantic, easy to move.

But the best thing that Andrea il Grosso can do, unlike many, is not to take himself too seriously, because art is not the amateur's job, but his fun. Moreover, it is only a talented amateur such as Acerbi who manages to have a truly human, simple and fruitful relationship with the objects of his interest.