The voice of silence

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Cristina Piersimoni

exhibition catalogue Sogno di un nuovo mondo - opere recenti Museo dell'Antica Grancia, Serre di Rapolano (Siena), 2001, p. 47-49
translation Nancy Podimane

Franca Marini's work can be grouped together under one theme; the interior world that becomes a scenario for a symbolic-mythological narration where dream and imagination replace the real world to give life to situations that are stigmatized by movement; a choreographic rather that dynamic world where figures animate the pictures either singly or in groups or, as her later work evidences, by lines.
The process of the pictorial act, therefore, ends up being a personal and emotional voyage of a psychological nature which tends to reveal the deepest layers of thinking through the analysis of one's own past in relation to a historical-artistic past. But the transposition of feeling that Franca Marini applies to her art permits image and background to freely interchange roles, without obliging the viewer to respect conventions whereby the scene containing figures in the foreground is more important than the landscape, as was so before the advent of 19th century French realism, which would otherwise cause one to overpower the other. Quite a relevant consideration if we keep in mind that the same chromatic tonality is being used both in the background and for the figures.
Franca Marini divides the work of the last decade into cycles, which in synthesis correspond to five series with the following titles: "The fall of the rebel angels", "Interior landscapes", "Invisible movement", "Emergence", "Dream of a new world".
The passage from one cycle to the next knows no brusk interruption; it is as if the initial idea undergoes a slow and gradual metamorphosis to finally reach a total modification both on a stylistic level - which nevertheless is a continuum of the previous one - and in terms of contents, taking the limits of her work to extremes.
This poetic journey which at the beginning of the 9Os was dictated by her state of mind during her voluntary exile in America, finds a new form of expression in which medieval Sienese art encounters contemporary art in the integration of iconographic elements borrowed from masterpieces of the past with brief forays of a neoexpressionist nature. Here the human figure blends in with the landscape where imagination becomes a concrete expression, like abstract thought process is generated by the apparent simplicity of the representation and the mysterious complexities of the mind. These are oneiric visions which come from deep and ask questions about man's destiny using pictorial means in a dialectic confrontation with "tradition" to express a spiritual tension intent on feeling the mystery of life through the process of knowledge.
The mystic light that envelopes the landscape filling it with an otherworldly feeling that highlights a sense of fixity in a rarefied atmosphere, altering the perception of reality materializing itself into an extraordinary flight of an angel among onlookers as an element of interruption which redimensions the centrality of the scene.
The austerity of the representation, instead, creates a distance between the ego and the external world that cannot be filled, leaving us full of doubts and unresolved questions. A distance, however, that is filled by images that are an elaboration and realization of an internal, psychic state through which a relationship and link with the daily world is possible.
Whilst the ethereal and the unconscious are technically translated through the superimposition of transparent veils of paint onto the canvas, which dissolve with poignant poetry, the characters stand out in vivacious colours.
This visionary quality that oscillates between reason and imagination, abstraction and figuration, has a polarizing function of a conceptual and contemplative nature realizing a specular interplay of duplicities; between order and chaos where the protagonist is the intermediate space that lies between impulse and action. Therefore in order to understand these paintings we must turn to our memory for help that can act as a sort of mediator.
In her paintings Franca Marini always introduces some elements that, whilst related to the real world from whence they originate, seem, on the other hand, abstract in so far as they are used symbolically and in a general way. If at the beginning of the 9Os they were citations from the works of the Italian masters of the past; by the mid-9Os they had become human figures in various poses acting, but in fact they were just poses taken from some photographic shots; to finally get to the later works where we have letters from the alphabet, chosen randomly, and used simply to mean language.
But these ambiguous presences which appear insignificant at first sight, charge the paintings with a potential energy transforming the pictorial surface into a tangible space that breaks and, at the same time, exalts the deafening background silence.
It is as if Marini's work encloses a drama: the struggle between rational and irrational, conscious action that tries to include the explosive, emotional, passionate unconscious part which is however dangerous because uncontrollable.
At the beginning of the year 2OOO, like any artist who wishes to affirm her identity, Franca Marini begins to perceive the images with which she had so far confronted herself as a limit, as an obligation, in that they represented preconstituted values: and this crisis which proves decisive for her work leads her towards a non-obiective, more improvised style of painting, gestural in nature as well as laden with signs.
We see in her more recent work, in fact, that the tortuous line wraps and then unwraps itself forming a web to then unravel itself, drawing a space saturated by colour delicate in its chromatic balance where calm and restlessness are intertwined to form a weaving full of signs.
The palpable light slides through the tangle of lines and conducts us into the meanders of the surface of the painting composed of subliminal elements that allude to an indefinite space in perfect equilibrium between the real and the imaginary.