What stands out in Gianfranco Lai’s paintings is the solid monumentality of the representation. The perfectly concluded and defined shapes force even the traditional “wild” colors to meekly obey a solemn linearism that controls both the plasticity and the picturesque romantic temptations to produce a marked and elegant “classic” composure. A refined synthesis of realism succeeds in maintaining a solid sense of structure in Lai’s personal interpretation of some of the most ancient and interesting forms that the cultural material of the Mediterranean can offer. The result is an enchanting and pleasantly balanced interpretation of the lively repertoire of Sardinia’s traditional costumes.
The cultural models of Lai’s work are connected to the moment of perspectival reappropriation of the rational volume and restitution of the anatomy that emerged after the early 20th-century developments of the historical avant-garde and affected all European esthetic production under the banner of the “return to order,” which was characterized in Italy as the “Novecento” style. At present, Gianfranco Lai’s work can be considered among the most interesting in the general landscape of the Sardinian figurative art.