Notes for Gino Forti - 1999, Nicola Manfredi

For those who print, for an art editor, meeting a Gino Forti is great luck. The main qualities of the person, of rare balance and joviality, are in harmony with those of the artist: who is versatile, whimsical, with a never dormant passion for work, ready to discard the unsuccessful and the unchangeable.

Watching Gino Forti print his own engravings can be a difficult test for the printer to pass. Those inking never completely repeated, those retroussage shots with the tarlatan in seemingly random, that sometimes insisting with the fingers on some part of the plate, at first cause horror to the palm purist. However, you will notice later that it is the right method for obtaining beautiful prints: Forti will have taught you it for free, rich baggage to add to your skill set.

When, having printed the first test, Forti grabs a scraper or burnisher or tip, or again looks for the acid, to scratch, lower, tap, engrave, seeing it modify engraving that seem perfect to the amazed eye of the press laborer, one could get angry if we should not think of the ancient masters procedure: correcting to obtain something that offers an iconography that is ever closer to the creative feeling. Lights appear where they were shadows, blacks instead of mid-tones, drypoint overlaps with etching, a more ferocious aquatint cancels both, the artist's elan vital is all tested on metal. It is the Fauvism of Forti painter who moves from oil paintings and tempera to apparently monochromatic engravings.

Forti is not a purist, he does not prefer a technique, but uses and mixes etching, drypoint, aquatint, lavis. And this experimentation is fruitful because, at the root of this pictorial way of engraving lies a rare ability to draw and graphic synthesis, as instinctive as you are looking for. Above all - what a satisfaction to be able to say it once - he is an artist who knows the ways to obtain the precise reflection of the movements of the soul from the plate. The style is outlined: he looked at Kubin, at Chagall, at the expressionists, he assimilated and reworked Bartolini's blond and dark ways. Now Forti looks only within himself, at his own joyful graphic fury, and sets out to completely conquer the heroic engraving language for strength and purity of the Maccari, the Ciarrocchi, the Manfredi, his other masters of reference.

The ability to evoke complex scenes in a short time makes him an excellent text illustrator. It is difficult to keep the editions designed with him in step with the quantity of chalcography, woodcuts and linocuts - another etching technique in which he excels - and lithographs - his first lithographic prints made in the old fashioned way, have given excellent results - produced to illustrate them .

While with patience and commitment we spent the days making the menabò for an edition of four cheerful stories by Chekhov, combining texts and his stupendous etchings, linocuts and lithographs, Forti, feeling unemployed, satisfied the ancient desire to illustrate Pinocchio. The result was two engravings per chapter, in total sixty-four, all worked with the same creative force in a complex graphic imposing in quality and quantity. Again - while these lines are being written - we have not finished the edition of Chekhov and we tremble at the idea that Forti is passionate about another theme after Pinocchio. But, for those who print, for an art publisher, meeting a Gino Forti is always great luck.