Italy treats India to cutting age futuristic art

By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS,

New Delhi : For the unaccustomed Indian eye, modern Italian art is a revelation. GenNext art from the country of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael is highly symbolic.

Support TwoCircles

A fortnight-long exhibition of works by 10 Italian artists, “Primavere Del Bianco” (Springs in White), hosted jointly by the embassy of Italy, the Indian Culture Institute and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), was inaugurated at the Lalit Kala Akademi here Friday evening.

The show, which plays on the colour white as its theme to symbolise the shade of spring flowers and innocence, is a kind of return to the basic colour code by Italian artists, who use white in combination of black and the seven rainbow shades to highlight emotional and spatial intensity, according to artists present at the show.

It comes to life in installations, wooden block prints on bare white walls, graffiti art, mixed medium and even the humble white flour dough that makes up the floor scheme for one of the installations.

Installations using cutting edge technology like video graphs, eight mm movie images and optical illusions with light, metal and fibre glass are the latest in the experimental expressions of creativity in Italy.

Drawings play second fiddle. The bulk of the hand-drawn figures are small human forms accompanied by graffiti to convey strong social messages like commodification of gender and social catastrophe. The country, home to some of the biggest names in classical renaissance art, is dabbling in post-modernism and innovation art that fuses the rudiments like drawings and colour with the latest technology.

Italian Art, says the curator of the show Victoria Biazi, is on a “white run”. According to Italian artists and art historians present at the show, white is a universal colour that links the West to the East.

In the Indian tradition, the colour represents goddess Saraswati, the deity of knowledge who is always attired in white, Pavan K. Varma of the ICCR said.

The artists showing their works are the new generation of young surrealists and post-modernists who are experimenting with the figurative forms that Italy is traditionally known for in new mediums.

“They are looking at traditional art through their installations, prints, shadow art and video graphs, and analysing it afresh. Innovation is the focal point, for art reflects the progress of civilisation,” Patrizia Raveggi, director of the Italian Cultural Institute, told IANS.

Ivana Spinelli’s “Brand Extension”, an installation in variable dimensions and “Global Sisters” and “Global Pin-ups”, figurative human landscapes in mixed media and graffitis use the woman for “branding life”.

It begins with the “egg”, a pencil mark that gradually fans out in all directions like a starfish to represent the woman as a symbol of social aspiration, a product, a luxury brand, an object of desire, a global pin-up and a romantic dream that society weaves.

The compositions, a kind of large common canvas, tell the story of the global sisters, modern young women, caught in the material race of life. The colour scheme is a simple white-and-black, the bare walls serve as the backdrop.

The canvases are futuristic. Carlo Bernardini’s composition in light and monochrome in optic fibre and wood breaks down white light into seven shades that twists into strange shapes while passing through the optical fibre. Andrea Geanchi’s three-part projection art series on an 8 mm screen with magnetic sound was a surreal blur of shapes, colours and action depicting the “odd synergy” between old and new Italy.

“Art in Italy has taken completely different ways after the Second World War. It is often hailed as the beginning of the modern era. Artists use contorted iron, wood and cloth – elements from nature – in a collage to express themselves. The aim is to open up the canvas so that its dimensions can escape the form and give way to the infinite.

“There are so many variations in art now in Italy that it is very difficult to go back to the traditional forms,” Raveggi said.

However, the artists rue the shrinking market for art in Italy.

“Not many people are buying art unlike India, where art is both an investment and private acquisition. Our economy is not moving and resource is scarce. Italy is facing the trickle-down effect of the great European recession. We are looking at markets outside our country,” said an artist requesting anonymity.