Coloured etchings (and we aren’t talking about the hand coloured ones, even if by Chagall) have always aroused my suspicion. Above all, those which utilise one plate and where the colours are placed alternatively for each impression and distributed into the various parts like certain children’s games or like in the printing of money. Even those which utilise more than one plate, one for each colour, appear to me to be gratuitously indebted to or indeed parasitic of lithography. However, this suspicion disappears when confronted with the coloured etchings of Nino Cordio: there is nothing which reminds me, either in their influence or the sentiments evoked, of lithography. The depth, the tone and the vibrations are those of black and white etchings. The colours are a sort of development which seem to arise from the shades of black and white for a special exhibition of light and air. Lithography, and even less so painting, would be incapable of rendering such colours. There is something mysterious, and mysteriously invented, in his etchings. They are a kind of their own. One is left with the impression that night presides and that landscapes, trees, and still life’s, immersed in the obscurity of the night, find within themselves fragments of light. One has the sensation of things which dance in the nocturnal space carrying within them, like fire flies, their own light. This impression persists even when in his etchings the sky is clear and bright and the sun splendours. It’s understandable that Cordio at a certain point found himself echoing the poetry of Lucio Piccolo in his etchings. A poetry which in its very essence is nocturnal: Sicilian, baroque, shrouded in secrecy, germinating imperceptibly and full of imminent catastrophe. Exactly like what Savinio called “nocturnal things”.
Rome, July 1981