From Tauromachie (Bullfighting) by Rossana Bossaglia (art historian and critic)
(Essay from the volume "Labirinti", 1999)
Cannạ's bull is certainly a victim. Destined to a bloody death, the beast's superb wild head, with its overwhelming vitality, immediately becomes the symbol of a macabre trophy. Cannạ manages, with unique expressiveness, to convey both a sense of vigorous, brutal innocence and that of an instinctive awareness of pain. A hint of supreme melancholy overlies the excitement stamped on his face. This melancholy, however, is not just due to his awareness of being a designated victim, but the fruit of deep existential contemplation. Michele Cannạ, an artist of vigorous style, knows how to endow his characters with energy and authority to an extraordinary degree. This is a gift which owes much to Cannạ the theatre artist and creator of masks, whose work acts not as a simplification but as a sublimation of individual psychologies. Cannạ's painting technique reflects this quality. It is incisive and takes on warm tones when tackling the physical side of his characters, turning them into a direct physical presence. On the other hand, his black and white works, particularly his drawings, tell their stories as if in counterpoint, in the half-dimness of non-colour. The physical power, however, remains, while the subtle, energetic lines of his excellent etchings perfectly convey the bristly luxuriance of the animal's fleece.
La sfida (The
Challenge) by Angela Manganaro
(writer and journalist) (Essay from the volume "Labirinti", 1999)
The labyrinth as a thing in itself exists only for whoever is inside the "mechanism"; on one side, the builder/creator, for whom the labyrinth is a play of combinations "applied" to a given route in such a way as to render it unrecognisable. For him, the challenge lies in leading the wanderer (the second element of the triad) to exhaustion, and subsequently allowing him to glimpse the "light", in other words a possibility that spurs him on. Lastly, there is the onlooker who, observing from the outside, sees what is no longer a labyrinth but an odd design, which is at most an aesthetic problem, but never an ethical one as it is for the wanderer. Cannạ, in tackling the labyrinth, becomes creator, wanderer and onlooker all together. He yields to the tension of sounding, agrees to stretch further than planned because he knows that something lies hidden under mere appearance and begs to be let out. This is his starting point, this need to reveal his personal labyrinth, custodian of unavoidable error; the vital error of wandering, in its double meaning of proceeding in a seemingly aimless manner and of losing oneself. In this conflicting, complementary aspect, can be found the fascination and awfulness of this labyrinth. There is the urge to seek a way out accompanied by a sort of love for the labyrinth in itself, and the game of losing oneself with its inherent drive to find an exit. Italo Calvino held that whoever believed himself capable of overcoming the labyrinth by escaping from its difficulties, remained outside. Art, in fact, cannot supply the key to finding a way out of the labyrinth, but it can suggest the best attitude to adopt to find the way out. What art has to salvage is the challenge to the labyrinth. The alternative is surrender.
The flute tragic (1994), oil on faesite,
Sea (1980), oil on canvas, cm 50x60
Palms tree (1994), oil on canvas, cm70x80
From Luviatico by Gian Luigi Falabrino (poet and journalist)
(Presentation essay for the "Luviatico" exhibition, 2001)
… in his linoleum engravings, Cannạ, torn between his love and his intolerance of Sicily on the one hand and other conflicting feelings for the great northern city of Milan on the other, sees the moon as that shining light, that "otherness" with regard to the metropolis, which one would desire always present to guide our path, but is so often absent. Cannạ respects and appreciates the city, but mainly feels it dark, in every meaning of the word. Indeed, the moon, whether present or absent, is always set in a landscape containing some actual aspect of Sicily, such as a spherical moon over a house, giving the impression of an Arab dome, or olive trees so contorted as to look like animals. Suddenly, however, these realistic elements take on a surreal aspect, as so often in his oil paintings. Then the moon sinks its claws into the horizon, or is pulled out of the sky by a man carrying a long hook. These elements are surprisingly and unconsciously similar to a 1928 manifesto by the futurist Siṇpico. The use of trees as a symbol of attachment to the earth is re-explored, as is the ability to rise above ones obsessions, as shrewdly pointed out by Angela Manganaro. Above all, one feels aware of the variety of Cannạ's experience in the art forms: painting, etching, the influence of Sicilian writers (Lucio Piccolo's Le esequie della luna and Vincenzo Consolo's Lunaria), and his continuous passage from figurative art to theatre. That's why some of these linoleum engravings seem backdrops for theatre scenes. Most important of all, however, is the atmosphere emanating from these engravings: while the extensive use of whites in the larger panels renders them similar to paintings, in all of these works the expression of lines, colour and contrast is as successful as the interior world that creates them is rich. In Cannạ's linoleum engravings, night is mysterious but not really an enemy. Through his (romantic?) use of line, the moon, meaning light, seems present, even when it appears to be absent: "Tacitae per amica silentia lunae"... All is not without light in these dark times; hope saves us from total solitude.