He started his artistic career in the 1970s in Italy, where he still lives and works today, Riccardo Mannelli engaged in delivering a special message of social criticism from early on. His initial works were the works of visual satire, bound to the first novel satire newspaper he founded with a group of like-minded friend enthusiasts - Il Male (The Evil). Observing the trends and changes in contemporary society, Mannelli found the false morality and taboos to be some of the most cancerous occurrences. His art is dedicated in criticizing the hypocrisy around us, while it elevates the true beauty of a human.
Coming from Pistoia, Riccardo Mannelli moved to Rome in his twenties, where he became one of the sharpest journalist illustrators. He drew, illustrated, painted, made portraits and illustrated reportages for some of the most famous Italian publications including Cuore, Linus, L’Europeo, La Stampa, Il Manifesto, La Repubblica. Parallely with his lively publicistic activity, Mannelli maintained his artistic career, exhibiting across the country and abroad. His works continue to attract attention wherever they appear, both because of the provocative subject and the mastery with which they are executed.
However, subject is instantly the first thing an observer notices when gazing upon Mannelli’s works. Nude couples in pre or post coital embrace, naked women juxtapozed with fully dressed men, overtly seductive dames, coy girls, and above all - sadomasochistic scenes involving, quite bravely, members of high society and clergy. The first encounter with these paintings can be either keen interest or shame, perhaps even arousal, but other than their perfect superficial aspect, Mannelli’s erotic compositions are much more profound.
Looking over the group of paintings executed in the past several years, we can notice two distinct trends in Mannelli’s expression. One depicts the most intimate episodes of a man’s life, having live and closeness as a main subject. These are the works representing couples entangled in emotional, physical relationships, dreaming upon each other, gazing in each other’s eyes. The guiding emotion here is love, the ultimate winner in all the fights of life.
On the other hand, his confusing, abstracted narratives, which place together the clad and the nude, are much more complex. As if they were portraying the innermost fantasies, the dirty reality of anyone’s soul, that what is condemned and appalling. Essentially, they are depictions of everyone’s nature, but besides the innate criticism, they contain something utterly forgiving. Their aesthetics does not allow for the observer to see a human as a filthy animal, but as a beautiful complex, somewhat misunderstood, or misfortunate being, a wonderful creation of nature. These s&m paintings, freaky scenes of explicit genital conversation, are the artist’s propagation of freedom, the one that should be inherent to all of us, just as he believes drawing is.
Finally, works of Riccardo Mannelli are best observed with relaxation and enjoyment, appreciating the core beauty extracted to the surface, delivered in a soft-core erotic manner, never ceasing to arouse interest. In the drawing, which is the base of Mannelli’s art, we can read strong influences of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, as well as of other masters of Art Nouveau, or Liberty style, as it was (curiously, in this case) known in Italy. Subtlety of color compliments the wonderful draughtsmanship of the artist, emphasizing what we are supposed to see - the sheer beauty of all aspects of humanity.