Lorenzo Mattotti
Release date:

Il signor Spartaco

The protagonist of this poetic and hallucinatory graphic novel, evocatively named Spartaco, is a sort of early twentieth century futurist scientist, an elegant, calm and somewhat shy man who travels by train to visit his aunt. He soon falls asleep and begins to dream while his subconscious gradually takes over. Thus, what could be an ordinary journey loses his space-time boundaries by welcoming the incursions of a series of surreal characters such as the Doctor and Mister Blu, and continually giving rise to dreamlike visions which bring back episodes of the protagonist’s life, from childhood to adult age, in Italy between the 1950s and the 1960s. Spartaco, as the subtitle suggests, therefore becomes the epicentre of a succession of inner earthquakes that lead him to constantly oscillate between past and present, dream and reality, and ultimately between life and death.
A turning point in the artist’s career, Il signor Spartaco anticipates several themes of Mattotti’s future works, such as dreams, memories, the descent into the abyss of the human soul and the traumatic farewell to childhood and adolescence, followed by the conquest of light. In this sense the travel by train becomes a symbolic initiation test into adult life.Using mixed media – pastels and felt pens – the artist visually represents the whirlwind – or earthquake – of the protagonist’s subconscious through a plastic dynamism inspired by Futurism and a kaleidoscope of dazzling colours that sometimes seems ready to come out of the pages, whereas the evocative and often rhymed texts, also take us back to the beginning of the twentieth century, and in particular to the rhymed comic strips of the Corriere dei Piccoli.