By John Hart january 25, 1973

Grand baroque is alive and sicker than ever in Rome these days: sick in the sense of being gorgeously contorted, bent with a sweetish whisff of corruption; alive in the sense of being immediate, made credible through incredible bravura and fun.

Let that mouthful serve as a pallid description of the paintings and drawings by Silvio Benedetto an Italo-Argentine artist. Dissident pupil of Siqueiros, living in Italy since 1961 and currently showing at the Nuova Pesa gallery in via del vantaggio. Benedetto makes a sound case of equating the raptures that characterize the great religious Baroque of 17th Century with the eroticism that spell-binds the 20th Century at the moment.

He combines symbolism with the flattest of forthright realism.

The airbone draperies that billow through Baroque art to symbolize elevation are grouped, in one example, with a male figure done with savage impasto impressionism save for the ralistic detail of a basic biological stat of elevation which Baroque artists always draped. A very pretty piece of puritan put-on, and an exellent paiting. A series of drawings shows two mouths in profile engaged in deep trota kissing.Statuesque bodies embrace vertically, horizontally, and on múltiple surfaces, in one instance on a revolving hexagonal pylon.


Benedetto's draftsmanship is impeccably accurate whether capturing figures and detritus of our time in the form of squeezed tubes and broken ligth bulbs, or executingbone and ligament abstractions. His colors are theatrical whether painted in meticulous chiaroscuro or splashed on and allowed to dribble down the canvas. Two exceptionally una bashed life studies in Oliz on canvas are heightened, for once, by being covered with non-reflecting glass.

The room upstairs is devoted to a single magnificent mural painting of the ectacy of Saint Teresa, after th familiar Bernini group but updated in our terms of ectacy and popular interest therein. Benedetti places 17th Century clerical voyeurs in the background, 20th Century photographers and reporters in the foreground, while we the viewers become the voyeur-public "uplifted" by the experience. The Visitng Angel is most emphatically sexed; the receptive Saint palpably flesh under and outside of her scutural drapery. Even the dove of the Holy Ghost is agog with fascination at the proceedings. Surrounding the painting are Benedetti's beautifully drawn studies for details, and an example of the portfolio of seven engravings on the subjet, availablein a limited edition.