Neri works with a reductive palette and additionally restricts the medium to tempera, in his view a more introverted and less seductively virtuosic medium than oil. Working in series, he finds inspiration locally (the landscape of the Romagna, modernist condos along the Adriatic coast) as well as globally (flags of the world, airport terminals). With the exception of the flag paintings and an early suite of photo-based portraits, the works are painted from memory, without recourse to preparatory studies or captured imagery. Indeed, Neri’s art is all but free of any reference to photography, Hollywood, video, animation, advertising and other standard indicators of contemporaneity.
Of paramount importance to Neri is the mark of the hand, the assertion of painting as a manual expression of ideas. Absorbed with the history of art, he avoids nostalgia and cynicism, though irony is expressed in the double entendre of a title or his enjoyment of the ambiguities of form: alternating bands, for example, may suggest the slats of a wooden shutter, the spines of books, or lines of text cancelled on a printed page. His recent turn toward greater abstraction has more to do with arriving at the underlying order of things than with imposing a predetermined system.