A Descent into the Underworld; the chasm of space. Few painters of our time have, more than Mimmo Centonze, a sense of the vastness of space. His large canvases disorient and attract us like the light on the bottom of one cave. We have to move forward.

We must get to the origin of the light. Centonze started from an unlimited admiration for Lucian Freud, he repeated his subjects, he reproduced their environments and atmospheres, he felt their laceration; but then a dissatisfaction intervened, for lack of transcendence. Freud has an encumbrance of naturalism that oppresses his images, tightens them to a daily dimension, even if universal, painful, dominated by a cruel pietas. But in Freud there is no hope, there is no salvation. His characters are doomed, they live their daily hell. Centonze, admiring the painter, cannot accept his tragic, bitter vision. And, in its voracious quest, it burns; and, like the souls in Purgatory, atone for a sin in the certainty of Grace.

It is rare for a painter to be religious: but Centonze cannot run the risk of being devotional, of painting the glory of God in a declaration of faith that painting does not allow. He must look for another way. For this it applies to paint the void. It is the space of the mystics, in a pictorial equivalence of the Coplas to the divine by Juan de la Cruz: “The higher I climbed, / and the more my gaze became blurred, / and the harshest conquest / was a work of darkness; / but in the amorous fury / blindly I rushed / so high, so high / that I reached the prey "(" Cuando más alto subía, / deslumbróseme la vista, / y la más fuerte conquer / en escuro se hacía; / mas por ser de amor el lance / of a ciego y dark leap, / y fuí tan high, tan high, / que le di a la caza alcance ").

It is the experience of the mystic. It is the conquest of the light. But it requires you to go through the dark, the dark night: "O night that you drove, / o grateful night more than the clear dawn; / o night that you bound / loved with beloved, / loved in the beloved transformed!". ("¡Oh noche, que guiaste!, / ¡Oh noche, amable más que el alborada!; / ¡Oh noche, que juntaste / amado con amada, / amada en el amado transformada!").


To achieve this loving goal, Centonze conceives large luminous spaces on large canvases. And, to get to the light, it crosses rubble, heaps of waste, combustion. His research is satisfied with a detail in which God is hidden. Juan de la Cruz again: "For all the beauty I will never lose myself, / but for a I don't know what / that is found by chance" ("Por toda la hermosura nunca yo me perderé, / sino por un no sé qué / que se alquanza por ventura ").

In this awareness the visions, certainly mystical, of degraded realities, of desolate warehouses, delimit the boundaries of a daily hell, beyond which there is the light of God. No rational path is sufficient, no empirical certainty. Here is Juan de la Cruz: "I entered where I did not know, / and remained not knowing, / all science transcending. / I did not know where I entered, / but when I was there, / not knowing where I was, / great things I grasped. / Not I will say what I felt, / because I remained not knowing, every science transcending "(Entréme donde no supe, / y quedéme no sabiendo, / toda ciencia transcendiendo. / Yo no supe dónde entraba, / pero, cuando allì me vi, / sin saber dónde me estaba, / grandes cosas entendí; / no say lo que sentí, / que me quedé no sabiendo, / toda ciencia transcendiendo.

Centonze's painting expresses visions, every science transcending. And, in the repetitiveness, it multiplies the occasions of the mystical experience, as if to confirm it, in perfect correspondence with the repetitiveness of prayer. Each "room" is like the grain of a rosary, in an obsessive succession that determines not the suggestion but the certainty of God. God is beyond all prayer, he is what is beyond matter and space. It is pure light, after the experience of darkness. The physical presence of man, flattered and caressed, even in brutality, in Freud's painting, is no longer necessary, rather it encumbers the luminous intuition of Centonze. The man is behind, already seen, already given. Now it is necessary to conquer the divine, immaterial prey, which does not give itself without the risk of losing sight. Or, at least, to deslumbrosarla, or to obscure it. Centonze's gaze burns, it measures itself with fire, but his soul knows it will go further. Because the strongest conquest is the work of the dark.