Francesco Campanoni

Anyone who has had the opportunity to see the theatrical performances, sculptures, 
paintings and etchings of Francesco Campanoni, has certainly got the idea that he
is an anarchist and that his works mock old conventions, clichés, prejudices and
fashions without meaning and value. In the scenography of his theatrical pieces, Campanoni re-proposes the festive and
bizarre fantasy of pataphysical representations, while among his sculptures in wood,
iron and stoneware, many “dada”, or surrealist horses, stand out in an emblematic way.
It therefore becomes easy to recognize in what Campanoni produces the suggestions
inherited from the most nihilist artistic movements of the 1900s.
However, it is the etchings that prevail in his conspicuous and multifaceted artistic
In thirty years of chalcographic work, Campanoni's laborious aquatints have reached a
deserving level of technical execution.
But it is, above all, the original and inexhaustible narrative energy, which is
immediately perceived by the observer, that transforms each of his prints into
microscopic stories, almost satirical cartoons.
The clean polemical naivety brings to mind, in some ways, the rebellious spirit of
Giovannino Guareschi.
Whether they are short stories or comic strips, the titles, which are an integral part
of the story, also testify to it.
For example, an etching depicts a king sitting at one end of a very long table asking
the queen, who is sitting in front of him,
far away, at the other end of the table: "Will you pass the water?"
And the title is precisely: Pass the water to me?
It is immediately evident that the amused surprise of the observer will be all in
reading the title.
Titles are rarely simply an addition of meaning to what is already perceived through
the image, more frequently they are unexpected and offer the observer a distortion
of meaning. I really think that the game is, for Campanoni, still the surrealist one,
as it was for the great founding fathers Mirò, Duchamp and companions.
The incredible variety of subjects of these etchings fascinates,
but on the other hand the same automatism technique used to create them favors their
extraordinary diversity.
As for the surrealist writers, who wrote any word that presented itself to their
conscious mind during the creative process, so Campanoni lets himself be guided by a
stroke, by a pencil line that winds, winds, tangles, creating figures, environments,
characters and finally absolutely unexpected stories, even for him.
Campanoni's etchings are, therefore, pure free association, which give free rein and
artistic dignity to his unconscious.
Naturally, as the drawing takes shape, more rational meanings and thoughts also take
shape which, unlike the surrealist result, are always intelligent and narrative.
Campanoni's etchings are a writing that tells of a small world made of discoveries,
moods, rebellions, laughter, escapes, transport in the wind that sweeps imperiously,
dragging hats, people, dogs, newspapers and pages and pages of tiny books that no one
can read.
They are very small stories in the form of an image; and perhaps one day, all together,
linked to each other, they will amaze by telling a single story.
Alfonso G. Ferrari