Melody For Two: Michael Rogatchi’s Italian Drawings Series

Curatorial Introduction

by Inna Rogatchi (C), 2011

Melody for Two is a six-piece collection of original drawings in mixed technique, of ink and pastel applied on coloured paper. The collection complements The Life of Two of Us collection of works by Michael Rogatchi and follows the same essential motifs. 

“To create a compact collection of drawings that continues the broad theme of the larger The Life of Two of Uspaintings in oils just seemed entirely logical and natural to me: there were motifs and ideas still whirling around my head after completing the collection in oils. I also wanted to try some new perspectives, to examine some already created images in a new context,” says the artist. 

Melody for Two may be divided into three mini-groups: Florentine Nocturne and Memory MirrorFull Moon Drink and Black Trombone Variations I, and Violet River and Melody for Two.

Melody for Two. 2011.

Florentine Nocturne and Memory Mirror are love stories, one set in Florence and the other in a more generic location. “Florence does add its own charm, its unique essence, to people’s relationships. I am sure about that. I can see it among my friends and the people we know, and it also works this way for me personally. So, for me, where there is romance in Florence, there are always three tangled up in the knot: she, he, and – Florence,” says Michael. 

Memory Mirror is a romantic story of a couple, still happily together in their advanced age – their youthful selves still living inside those aging bodies. It is an artistic recipe for wholesomeness, if ever there was one.

Black Trombone Variations I and Full Moon Drink portray a lyrical situation. In the case of Black Trombonethat lyricality is energized and energizing; in Full Moon Drink it works in the opposite direction, possessed of a slightly melancholic touch. 

Black Trombone is a conscious reminiscence of Michael’s Homage to Serge Gainsbourg in the signature work for his The Life of Two of Us collection, C’est Fini. But in the drawing, the artist’s accent changes markedly. There is no duetto any longer; our Gainsbourg-inspired man moves into a musical monologue, letting out his feelings and – crucially – his thoughts, but still staying rooted inside the unique world that his Black Trombone helps him to create. 

Full Moon Drink, which the artist sees in turn as the signature work for the Melody for Two collection, is the story of loneliness for the fairer sex. Or just a lonely moment. The girl in the drawing does not even need to lift her head to see and sense the full moon and the mood it can bring to all of us. The moon’s mini-reflection is just in front of her, in that untouched glass. And she seems ready, for all the world, to sit and reflect there the whole night long. 

Full Moon Drink I. 2011.

Violet River and Melody for Two are grouped together mostly on colouristic grounds. After presenting and inhabiting so many blues in his collection, the artist takes us into a violet world. It is as demanding artistically as blue, though blue has a very wide range of variations, and violet is more direct. The result is nevertheless encouraging: both violet drawings are very expressive. 

Violet River is a lyrical nude portrait where beauty speaks for itself, and the sense of meditation is palpable. It is one of the most atmospheric works in the collection. 

Melody for Two can best be described as ‘a visual symphony’. The artist returns to his trademark image of Mozart, whose musical scores are flying in the air. “In my understanding and imagination, Mozart just could not keep his music papers in order; it does not go with the character,” says Michael on his favourite composer. There is a special world created by the artist in this drawing. In this world, the musical score has eyes, the world itself is shaped as an unfinished Guarneri, and Amadeus‘ melody makes the dreams of people live. In the eyes of the artist, “all of us have that melody of our own; and the lucky ones – a melody for two”.

Inna Rogatchi

 Curator of the ROGATCHI’s BLUES exhibition in Florence, Italy, May – December 2011.