Reviews » Aldo Chinellato

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What dominates Françoise’s work is her constant need to experiment, which is also one of her finest qualities. And this is not prompted by any dissatisfaction with what she has already achieved, but because she is pushed by an insatiable curiosity and an undying vitality that compels her to continuous self-examination.

Obviously, she is not an artist much inclined towards what can be defined as ‘narcissistic mannerism’ or with a taste for auto-reference, which is not only a sort of sterile, non-productive self satisfaction, but also the usual barrier upon which many contemporary artists’ aspirations flounder. Instead, Françoise is interested in exploring the expressive potential of matter and materials that, time after time, as the artist herself suggests, coincidence makes available, following the masterly path already indelibly and wonderfully marked out by Alberto Burri. And so it is that hard surfaces (old wooden boards, worn down and battered by time) alternate with other softer materials (classic canvasses) and others still more impalpable in their lightness and evanescence (tissue paper, for example).

The base material obviously dictates different artistic approaches, which can, at times, be even anti-aesthetic: the wooden boards are approached with a passion and energy reminiscent of the action-painting and abstract expressionism of the New York school as well as the more recent graffiti movement; the canvasses are often enriched by the inclusion of materials that establish dialectic relationships as a result of their different consistencies; the paper’s capacity to emphasize the transparency and luminosity of the colour is highlighted.

The materials used first undergo a bewildering process of decontextualisation to be then elevated and ennobled, thanks to their hitherto unknown and unsuspected aesthetic power, and it is the pleasure and naive charm of this discovery that feeds Françoise’s need to paint. Starting from this presupposition, the journey, be it Marco Polo’s, to refer directly to the series of painting presented here, or the prototype of all explorer-travellers, Ulysses, becomes a useful metaphor for the quest for knowledge, a search that can but proceed cautiously bit by bit, experimentally and sometimes randomly, and always demands great courage (in Dante’s description of how Ulysses convinces his terrorised crew to cross the Pillars of Hercules, then the edge of the known world he is made to say “Ye were not form’d to live the life of brutes but virtue to pursue and knowledge high”).

But Françoise’s journey, and ours along with her, is not just a voyage into space but also through time. Time corrodes, erodes, polishes and, looking at Françoise’s work, one can guess that the scratches, the ‘wounds’ of her paintings perhaps allude to the signs that time, or the people that pass through it, leave behind as an abiding testimony to their existence, and here one is compelled to refer to Giorgio Celiberti, with whose style and subject matter Françoise’s work shares many similarities. Another possible reading of this “contrast” graffiti, is perhaps the subconscious desire to add a third dimension to the two dimensions of a picture, a profound immeasurable secret, behind the canvas, inside which something unexpected is brewing and slowly emerging, oozing, spraying out from the coloured surfaces. The sensation is one of something alive and primordial. Of multilayered painting, sedimentary.

Hence these “landscapes” because, broadly speaking, they are indeed landscapes, they are seen “in becoming” according to a diachronic and not simply synchronic or naturalistic perspective. Landscape, in fact, is never described analytically, but is evoked, recalled from memory through the force of colour, just as Santomaso evoked Venice through the extreme synthesis of one of its characteristic architectonic elements (the typical Gothic Venetian arch). Basically, while starting from the observation of the given real or of the memory of that observation, Françoise reaches a new world (like Marco Polo), which is the result of the sedimentation of memory and its consequent extreme synthesis. What actually remains of a journey undertaken long ago? Precise images? Snapshots? Or more simply, sensations (the humid heat, the biting cold, the characteristic sounds, smells and colours)? I believe that from a great distance, after time has stripped it, shorn the memory of everything that is superfluous, what remains of a journey or of a stroll through a particular landscape are exactly those sensations that Françoise strives to make us aware of, bringing alive those senses that do not normally come in to play when one visits an exhibition of paintings: not only sight, therefore, but also and above all touch and why not, sound and smell, too. Thus we are summoned to undergo a multi-sensorial experience and a journey through space and time that is the time-space of the human soul.

Aldo Chinellato September 2005