“Do not paint just for the pleasure of painting, but work with the aim of understanding and interpreting the truth in order to convey the moment, the hour and the effect well. Always try in the beginning of your work to be concise and to put the masses in order, remembering that the essential basis of pictorial art is chiaroscuro “(Aosta 2001, p. 13), the advice directed to an amateur painter friend constitutes a sort of a poetic poster by Alessandro Lupo.
In fact, throughout his long artistic career, the Piedmontese painter always remained faithful to the principle of the study of truth, derived from the teachings of his master Vittorio Cavalleri. Alongside the paintings of greater commitment and format, made using photographic models, there are numerous quick “impressions” made with rich and mellow colors en plein air on the Aosta Valley mountains, but also in Venice, Rome and the Ligurian coast.
If the first group of works includes the lively views of markets teeming with figures, the second includes the rich animal rights production, to which Lupo dedicates himself with passion. They are mostly portraits of mighty draft horses, often taken from three quarters or from the back to enhance the musculature of the hind limbs.
The old worker, successfully exhibited at the 1926 Parisian Salon, constitutes a sort of moral self-portrait of the artist who in his correspondence with friends liked to jokingly call himself “the beast” both in reference to his surname and to the industriousness and patience lavished in his work. Plowing, created in 1910, also falls into the category of works of this kind.
Two workhorses constitute the supporting axis and the vanishing point of a life-like impression, built with a full-bodied and constructive brushstroke. The backbone of the work is, in fact, made up of a skilful balance of the chiaroscuro masses, based on the contrast between cold colors, which occupy the left part of the work, and warm, which unfold on the right.
Chromatic contrasts, which also affect the figures of the animals, the dark one in the foreground and the light one in the second. The blues, whites, purples, browns and greens dilute and strengthen each other in a composition in which a horizontal brushstroke corresponds to a vertical one, except for the description of the details of the bushes, of the foliage of the trees and the coat of the horses entrusted to the tip of the brush that with a few synthetic touches defines and structures the forms in their phenomenal realism.