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  • Writer's pictureNelson Ferreira

Italian Press on first Lucca exhibition

Article in the Italian press, which once again analyses the paintings I made and exhibited at Portugal's National Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as at the Soares dos Reis National Museum. Now exhibited in Italy with the impetus of the artists from the Anima Mundi Pax group. This article also mentions the artists Andrea Sargeant Branca, Karen Wood and Gianmarco Donaggio. Congratulations to everyone who joined forces for these two exhibitions. And thanks for the beautiful text by Simona Frigerio.

Here is the translation of the text:


by Simona Maria Frigerio

Two different moments for so many highly evocative spaces in the city of Lucca. Once the hustle and bustle of Lucca Comics & Games is over, the walled city finds its best dimension in two small group exhibitions held in the baroque church of Santa Caterina and in the last bastion built in the city in 1547, dedicated to Santa Croce.

Anima Mundi Pax is the work in progress that allowed several artists to connect and realise a new Barbizon School or Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood - not meaning a particular style, but a feeling that was lavished on the whole small community. In the period of forced distancing and seclusion due to the measures imposed by governments to curb the Covid-19 epidemic, several artists living in Portugal, Brazil, Georgia, Australia, the UK, Italy and other countries decided to use the network to not only build artistic paths based on confrontation and dialogue with the other, but also to encourage each other to pursue their common creative passion, offering each other a listening ear and support, as well as a glimpse of peace and serenity to the visitor - through the series of works produced.

The two exhibitions held in Lucca, Vivere in Blu and Arbor Vitae, are the first opportunity to see some of the works produced in those months of labour and solitude, overcome and made fruitful precisely thanks to the ability not to lock ourselves away in a shameful and selfish "I'll stay at home forever" - which in reality means: "I save only myself".

The group exhibitions thus aim to be a legacy that gives us, as the artists themselves write: "the indomitable spirit of the artist" in its most human dimension and the "power of creative expression in building bridges across the void imposed by isolation".

But let's turn to the merits of the first group exhibition (we'll write about the second next week), which also benefited from the sumptuous decoration of the walls and dome of Santa Caterina. Here, we're particularly interested in the work of the exhibition's organiser, Andrea Sargeant (English by birth but Tuscan by adoption), who presented a series of watercolours in which, especially in the landscapes, we can perceive the rarefied and consoling delicacy of Japanese prints (especially the mythological-legendary views in the Ukiyo-e style). Looking at the sky-blue peaks surrounded by white clouds is a pleasure for the senses and allows the mind to drift off into reverie.

Also at the exhibition, we were impressed by the small paintings/puzzle fragments by Australian Karen Wood. We also saw a strong Japanese component in her works, as if Karen (a decidedly sunny person) wanted to give us little pictorial haikus in which poetry is conveyed not by three-verse compositions, but by lines and colourful juxtapositions that convey sensory images (an oxymoron that seems perfect for these "fragments of self").

In Santa Caterina, we also find Portuguese artist Nelson Ferreira with his canvases that pictorially reinterpret António Soares dos Reis' sculpture, O Exilado, and Gianmarco Donaggio's artistic video, Azul no Azul - capable of translating the artistic confrontation between Ferreira and the work of the 19th century Portuguese master into a third medium - video art.

But let's explain a little more. Thanks to the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC), Ferreira, at the time immersed in the deeply "blue" climate (1) of the epidemic period, feeling the creative need to express the profoundly human need to connect with others than himself, but also with beauty and art, was able to at least get close to the works on display in the museum's garden. Consequently, he reinterpreted the desire for a hug, a caress or even a simple touch in a strongly emotional way in a series of canvases that symbolically portray this human desire for sculptural work.

When we saw the works, we were reminded of Boccioni's triptych States of Mind (more precisely, Quelli che restano, in the second version, for its tonality; and Quelli che restano, in the first version, for its composition). Although Ferreira told us that he was unaware of this triptych, it is also true that it is inherent in the artistic vein to find common chords to make similar melodies resonate. And like Boccioni, we breathed in saudade, the inexpressible melancholy of a lack or loneliness that is imposed on us and doesn't belong to us.

This work of encounter and dialogue with sculptural works from the past, carried out by Ferreira in the MNAC garden, was also transformed into an art video, as we have written, signed by Gianmarco Donaggio (2), who did not slavishly document the artistic encounter in progress, but reinterpreted it using the camera to construct a visual - and visionary - work of art himself, where, once again, it is blue that becomes the absolute protagonist, as in Derek Jarman's last masterpiece (3).

The 6-minute short film transfers the magic of the encounter into a succession of highly suggestive images with a musical background that caresses the ear as much as the liquefaction of ideas and spheres of light and shapes, which acquire material consistency only for brief moments, almost as if, in the impossibility of a real encounter, at least the imago of that encounter remains (and here Adorno's criticism of mimesis in art comes to mind and the need for art, in order to be called such and not a commodity, to free itself from the reproduction of nature, that is, not to become mimesis).

A small exhibition that offered several avenues for reflection, as well as a series of works in different media of undoubted interest.

(1) To feel blue in English means, not surprisingly, to feel sad

(2) The video trailer:

(3) Blue, 1993, the film testimony of the British film-maker who translates his condition of progressive blindness into video.

For the original article in Italian, please click on the image above, or on the link below:


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