After the initial intense phases of post-informalism and the confrontation with a populism reduced to the hypertrophy of image consumption, Baratella turns to broad and powerful cycles of works.
In Vita, morte e miracoli di Joe Ditale (Life, Death and Miracles of Joe Thimble, 1973-74) Baratella performs an epic as an authentic heir of the Berlin Dada, he determines the great to a vulgar imagery, in the key of the visionary with lysergic effect American, but at the same time stretched by the constant evocation of the history painting of the high tradition. And it is an emphatic and low humanity, a militaristic imbecility, an outrageously turgid eroticism: and it is the unsubtle emergence of corruption, the fatal disease, under the guise of this mindless and jaded vitalism.
The clarity of the art historical identity, the composing and the commensuration, fall apart and reassemble only in the redundant parody of the visual communication. It will be a laugh that will bury you, 1975. with these crashed symbols, with this bland evasion of iconic value, with this imposing measure of civilized vision.
I got to know the world as a heap of anti-naturalistic technologies: bombs, airplanes, Bengal flares, parachutes, radios, tanks, cars, trucks, motorcycles with sidecars, cinema, photos of extermination camps, weapons, later television, personal computers, and so on." That's the horizon. I take the little horse and play the painter: as a child I paint catastrophes of planes, ships, crashes, bombs, etc., the world as it appears to me. No escape has allowed my "aesthetic will to power" to engage in idyllic, nature-based visions of quiet "oil painting".
So Baratella. Commitment is not an option: it is necessity, it is duty. It is, as he will say a few years later in another important cycle, Permanent State of War. It is, as the artist will say elsewhere, "poetic resentment", urgency: whether he is consciously, thematically, measuring himself against the controversial iconography of the present, or relatively and through a more complex and subtle work of symbolic elaboration, recovering motifs that art history throws back on the present.
The dazzling iconography of the cycle on the planet Cake (1976-1977) decreases, but without slackening in Enemies (2002), which seems to recall ancient Minoan or Etruscan heraldic paintings. Or in L'onda anómala, 2004-2005, in which, almost like a contemporary Grünewald or Giulio Romano, the drama of the chronicle is projected onto historical stratifications and contrasts of order and disorder, nomos and imbalance, reason and violence.
Up to the explicit and powerful evocation of the ideal conceptual counterpart between September 11, 2001 and the Tower of Babel in 2002. Baratella says: "The causes that generate what can be called 'poetic resentment' are always the same. It is in the nature of man to have a conception of justice and the common happiness of men under heaven that is cosmological. Thus, in the gap between social reality, reason, and feeling, there arises the indignation which gives impetus to strong expression in the linguistic forms peculiar to the historical moment. I.] Ideological and unyielding, the artist of my kind struggles with the modest means of "painting," opening up
into crude, symbolic narratives of ethical 'type' in which aesthetics represents the Inattainable moral goal that must be ceaselessly sought as a non-transient and universal value." Values, non-transient. Fortunately, the genre of true artists is not yet extinct.