Het portreit van de ziel

“De animatie van het doek is een van de moeilijkste problemen van de schilderkunst.”

(Alfred Sisley)

De evolutie van het portret in de kunstgeschiedenis kan worden gelijkgesteld met de evolutie van de weergave van de beeltenis van de kindertijd naar de volwassenheid. De impuls om portretten te schilderen is een spontane en primordiale noodzaak: vertrekkend van een opzettelijk portret komen we, dankzij de persoonlijke groei van de kunstenaar, tot het fysionomische portret dat niet alleen concrete somatische kenmerken heeft, maar ook het psychologische karakter, de spiritualiteit en het morele oordeel van de geportretteerde analyseert. Ook al werd het in de oudheid beschouwd als een genre dat inferieur is aan het historische tafereel, voor sommige historici is het portret het oudste en meest verbreide artistieke genre dat de ontwikkeling van de cultuur van de samenleving tastbaar volgt: er zijn maar weinig historische tijdperken en beschavingen waarin het portret niet aan bod komt.

De tentoonstelling Het portreit van de ziel wil dus de hedendaagse situatie documenteren van dit genre dat altijd een grote aantrekkingskracht heeft gehad. De zes aanwezige kunstenaars hebben het doel van Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) bereikt: zij hebben een ontwikkelingsstadium bereikt waarin zij in staat zijn het onderwerp van het werk te animeren, dat wil zeggen dat zij ziel en geest in het materiaal brengen door er hun persoonlijke artistieke en creatieve toets aan toe te voegen. Laten we ze beter leren kennen.

Sinds 2015 concentreert de Milanese kunstenares Susanna Maccari zich op de analyse van de vrouwelijke figuur in aquarellen: haar vitale en waterige toetsen zijn elegant en delicaat, en tonen de innerlijke kracht, schoonheid en intelligentie van de vrouw met pasteltinten van uiterste verfijning.

Met een heel andere techniek onderzoekt de kunstenaar Leonardo Vecchiarino uit Foggia ook de schoonheid van de hedendaagse vrouw: fascinerende moderne nimfen met een prerafaëlitische inslag (19e eeuw), geschilderd in olieverf met bleke, koude kleuren, worden geplaatst in volkomen surrealistische symbolische contexten die bestaan uit collages met fragmenten uit het dagelijks leven.

Een andere belangrijke exponent van de hedendaagse Lombardische portretkunst is ongetwijfeld de kunstenaar Giorgio Riva, die ons met zijn werken op hout ertoe aanzet de vrouwenfiguur te interpreteren in een dromerige, symbolische en transcendente versie die doet denken aan de Art Nouveau (1890-1910): de ruimten worden in de tijd opgeschort en stralen rust en harmonie uit dankzij de kleur en de grafische oogjes die het beeld creëren.

De jonge Bresciaanse kunstenares Laura Zani, een nieuwkomer in het project Hedendaagse Italiaanse Kunst in Nederland dat door Manzoni Kunst Galerie wordt gesteund, is bij verzamelaars ook bekend om haar inktwerken en fine art prints met kinderportretten. Dankzij het spel van het licht en de transparantie van de gebruikte media creëert de kunstenares een zuiver universum waarin gratie natuurlijk is en, zoals ze zelf zegt, “waar je nog kunt hopen dat alles mogelijk is en waar je toevallig zeemeerminnen ontmoet”.

De enige Nederlandse portrettiste in de tentoonstelling is de Brabantse Marieke Samuels, die dankzij haar artistieke poëtica de geportretteerde vrouw uit het abstracte doek laat oprijzen als ware het een visioen uit een droom: de toeschouwer krijgt zo de gedachte en de essentie van de protagoniste te pakken.

Wat de beeldhouwkunst betreft, is de enige beeldhouwer in de galerie Claudio Caporaso uit Ligurië, die zich concentreert op de diepgaande en voortdurend veranderende identiteiten van de onderwerpen in brons. De geportretteerde lijdende zielen zijn geïdealiseerd en schetsen met grote gevoeligheid de hedendaagse geest van de mens.

De tentoonstelling Het portreit va de ziel geeft zo een volledig beeld van de hedendaagse maatschappij, realistisch in haar fenomenale kant, voortdurend op zoek naar een ontsnapping uit de dagelijkse angsten door middel van symboliek, dromen, emoties en illusies.

29 april – 26 juni 2022

Manzoni Kunst Galerie (Snellingerdijk 122, Oosterwolde)

English version

The portrait of the soul

“The animation of the canvas is one of the most difficult problems of painting.”

(Alfred Sisley)

The evolution of the portrait in the history of art can be equated with the evolution of the reproduction of the image from childhood to adulthood. The impulse to paint portraits is a spontaneous and primordial necessity: starting from an intentional portrait we arrive, thanks to the personal growth of the artist, at the physiognomic portrait that not only has concrete somatic features but also analyses the psychological character, spirituality and moral judgement of the subject. Even though in ancient times it was considered an inferior genre to the historical scene, for some historians the portrait is the oldest and most widespread artistic genre that tangibly follows the development of society’s culture: there are very few historical epochs and civilisations in which the portrait is not taken into consideration.

The exhibition Het portreit van de ziel thus aims to document the contemporary situation of this genre that has always had great appeal. The six artists present have achieved Alfred Sisley’s (1839-1899) goal: they have reached a stage of evolution where they are able to animate the subject of the work, that is to say, they infuse soul and spirit into the material by adding their personal artistic and creative touch. Let’s get to know them better.

Since 2015, Milanese artist Susanna Maccari has been concentrating on analysing the female figure in watercolours: her vital and watery touches are elegant and delicate, and show the inner strength, beauty and intelligence of women with pastel tones of extreme refinement.

With an extremely different technique, the artist Leonardo Vecchiarino from Foggia also investigates the Beauty of contemporary women: fascinating modern nymphs with a Pre-Raphaelite flavour (19th century), painted in oils with pale, cold colours, are set in completely surreal symbolic contexts made of collages showing fragments of everyday life.

Another important exponent of contemporary Lombard portraiture is certainly the artist Giorgio Riva who, with his works on wood, encourages us to interpret the female figure in a dreamlike, symbolic and transcendental version reminiscent of Art Nouveau (1890-1910): the spaces are suspended in time and convey calm and harmony thanks to the colour and graphic eyelets that create the image.

The young Brescian artist Laura Zani, a newcomer to the Contemporary Italian Art in the Netherlands project supported by Manzoni Kunst Galerie, is also well known to collectors for her ink works and fine art prints featuring portraits of children. Thanks to the play of light and the transparency of the media used, the artist creates a pure universe in which grace is natural and, as she herself says, “where you can still hope that anything is possible and where you happen to meet mermaids”.

The only Dutch portraitist in the exhibition is Marieke Samuels from Brabant who, thanks to her artistic poetics, makes the portrayed female subject emerge from the abstract canvas as if it were a vision from a dream: the spectator thus grasps the thought and essence of the protagonist.

As far as sculpture is concerned, the only sculptor in the gallery is Claudio Caporaso from Liguria, who concentrates on the profound and constantly changing identities of his bronze subjects. The suffering souls portrayed are idealised and sketch the contemporary spirit of the human being with great sensitivity.

The exhibition Het portreit va de ziel thus fully captures today’s contemporary society, realistic in its phenomenal side, constantly searching for an escape from everyday anxieties through symbolism, dreams, emotions and illusions.

Ask the artist: Ilaria Sperotto

We have now reached the last scheduled interview in Ask the artist column, which since December 2020 has been investigating and getting to know better the fifteen artists taking part in the Italian Contemporary Art in the Netherlands Project supported by the neo Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde: artists from all over Italy, artists with very different styles, techniques, subjects and artistic paths, demonstrating just how versatile, complex and multi-faceted art can be.

Today we have as our guest the young visual artist Ilaria Sperotto from Vicenza, whom I met through mutual artistic friendships and for whom I have great respect because of the works of art she creates, in which the essence of her own spirit and unconscious is explored in depth: her canvases are the result of an expressive, abstract and instinctive artistic poetics in which the colour and brushstrokes give the sensation of being catapulted into the primordial psychic dimension of emotions.

Already well known in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, and Belgium, Ilaria Sperotto is now present in the Netherlands with six valuable small format works at affordable prices.

Let us finally pass the word to Ilaria Sperotto:

You have certainly been asked this question by many, but the Dutch public does not know how the artist Ilaria Sperotto lived and still lives this historical period that will surely enter the history books: has art helped you? Are there any future projects or is it still too nebulous to concretely plan anything?

In 2020 when the pandemic started it was a braking moment for me, initially very difficult, surreal, I was very scared. Then one day I decided that I had to recover, I had to resume my dream of living a normal life. Painting in this case was fundamental, liberating! Through colour, I freed my emotions and began to feel alive again, to dream! 2021 is a special year, a continuous work in progress. I am currently participating in the “Burma Pavilion”, an international postal art project at Palazzo Zanardi Landi in Guardamiglio Lodi (Italy). While in September 2021 I will exhibit about thirty oil paintings in the historical centre of Vicenza: I will be part of the protagonists of VIOFF “A GOLDEN JOURNEY”, the new edition of Fuori Fiera di Vicenzaoro. I am planning 2022, but I prefer not to talk about it for now.

Do you always paint en plein air like a contemporary impressionist or do you have moments of personal reworking in the studio? Tell us about your creative process…

With the pandemic and the lockdown, I had to adapt to the new situation, in the past I used to paint exclusively en plein air, observing and reinterpreting the landscape, now I paint mainly in the studio. My paintings come from my imagination, from my unconscious, and then I transfer them to canvas. They are visions, landscapes that do not exist.

Looking at the old impressionist oil paintings and comparing them with the more recent metaphysical-abstract works, there has been a big stylistic leap. What triggered this stylistic change?

With the lockdown, an unexpected “click” happened. In the past, I never felt totally free with oil painting, I felt chained and anchored to the influences of my masters. I loved and adore Impressionist painting, but I never felt it was totally mine. Pandemic allowed me to explore myself inside, to listen to myself. My latest works are the result.

You are an all-round artist: let’s talk about your symbolist ceramics. What inspires you?

Ceramics are a world of their own, I am extremely fascinated by the earth, by its plasticity and I love to experiment. For several years now, I have been mainly inspired by the theme of cities, my travels, my studies. One of the things they taught me at the Faculty of Architecture is to look, to observe the context, the landscape, the territory. To explore with the gaze, to imagine what is no longer there or not yet there. Architecture, like Art, springs from the imagination. Urban Planning itself is first and foremost a prediction. And so, I try to blur my vision, to blur my look in order to see beyond the vision.

You are always looking for pure emotion: what do you want to convey to those who linger in front of your works?

In my work, painting, like ceramics, is instinctive, charged with emotions and moods that everyone can read and interpret in their own depths. What I want to convey is an empathic and intuitive emotion. An essence that is not to be found in the matter outside of us or beyond the reality perceivable with the senses, but within us and within the inner world in which we live, learning to look beyond appearance, beyond the visible, through the emotion that dwells in the mind.

I would like to thank Ilaria Sperotto for the time she has dedicated to us and remind readers that they can view the young artist’s works of art online at www.criticoarte.org/galleria-gallery/ilaria-sperotto/ or come to the gallery and see for themselves the quality of the oils on display.

Domanda all’artista: Ilaria Sperotto

Siamo ormai giunti all’ultima intervista in programma per la rubrica Domanda all’artista che, da dicembre 2020, ha voluto indagare e fare conoscere meglio i quindici artisti che partecipano al progetto Arte Italiana Contemporanea in Olanda, supportato dalla neo Manzoni Kunst Galerie di Oosterwolde: Artisti provenienti da tutta Italia, Artisti con stili, tecniche, soggetti e percorsi artistici molto differenti tra di loro proprio a dimostrazione di quanto l’Arte sia versatile, complessa e multi-sfaccettata.

Oggi abbiamo come ospite la giovane visual artist Ilaria Sperotto da Vicenza, conosciuta tramite amicizie artistiche in comune e per la quale nutro grande stima per le opere d’arte che realizza in cui si indaga a fondo l’essenza del proprio spirito e del proprio inconscio: le tele sono il traguardo di una poetica artistica espressivo-astratta istintiva in cui il colore e le pennellate date di getto danno la sensazione di essere catapultati nella dimensione psichica primordiale delle emozioni.

Già conosciuta in Italia, in Svizzera, in Austria, in Francia e in Belgio, oggi Ilaria Sperotto è presente sul territorio olandese con sei pregevoli opere di piccolo formato dai prezzi “affordable”.

Passiamo finalmente la parola ad Ilaria Sperotto:

Sicuramente te l’hanno chiesto in tanti ma il pubblico olandese non conosce come l’artista Ilaria Sperotto abbia vissuto e vive tutt’ora questo periodo storico che entrerà sicuramente nei manuali di storia: l’arte ti ha aiutata? Ci sono progetti futuri o è ancora troppo nebuloso per programmare concretamente qualcosa?

Nel 2020 quando è iniziata la pandemia per me è stato un momento di freno, inizialmente molto difficile, surreale, ero molto spaventata. Poi un giorno ho deciso che dovevo riprendermi, dovevo riprendere il mio sogno per vivere una vita normale. La pittura in questo caso è stata fondamentale, liberatoria! Attraverso il colore ho liberato le mie emozioni e ho riiniziato a sentirmi viva, a sognare! Il 2021 è un anno particolare, un continuo working progress. Attualmente sto partecipando al “Padiglione Birmania”, progetto internazionale di arte postale presso Palazzo Zanardi Landi a Guardamiglio Lodi (Italia). Mentre a settembre 2021 esporrò una trentina di quadri ad olio nel centro storico di Vicenza: farò parte dei protagonisti del VIOFF “A GOLDEN JOURNEY”, la nuova edizione del Fuori Fiera di Vicenzaoro. Sto progettando il 2022, ma preferisco non parlarne per ora.

Dipingi sempre en plein air come un’impressionista contemporanea oppure hai momenti di rielaborazione personale nello studio? Raccontaci il percorso del tuo processo creativo…

Con la pandemia e il lockdown ho dovuto adattarmi alla nuova situazione, nel passato dipingevo esclusivamente en plein air, osservando e reinterpretando il paesaggio, ora dipingo prevalentemente in studio. I miei quadri nascono dalla mia immaginazione, dal mio inconscio, successivamente li trasferisco su tela. Sono visioni, paesaggi che non esistono.

Guardando i vecchi lavori ad olio di stampo impressionista e mettendoli a confronto con le opere più recenti di stampo metafisico – astratto c’è stato un grande salto stilistico. Cosa ha scatenato questo cambio stilistico?

Con il lockdown è accaduto un “click” inaspettato, in passato con la pittura ad olio non mi sono mai sentita totalmente libera, mi sentivo incatenata e ancorata alle influenze dei miei maestri. Adoravo e adoro la pittura impressionista, ma non l’ho mai sentita totalmente mia. La pandemia mi ha permesso di esplorarmi dentro, ascoltarmi. I miei ultimi lavori ne sono il risultato.

Sei un’artista a tutto tondo: parliamo delle tue ceramiche simboliste. A cosa ti ispiri?

Le ceramiche sono un mondo a sé, sono estremamente affascinata dalla terra, dalla sua plasticità e adoro sperimentarmi e sperimentare. Da diversi anni mi ispiro principalmente al tema delle città, ai miei viaggi, ai miei studi. Una delle cose che mi hanno insegnato alla Facoltà di Architettura è guardare, osservare il contesto, il paesaggio, il territorio. Esplorare con lo sguardo, per immaginare ciò che non c’è più o non ancora. Anche l’Architettura, del resto come l’Arte, scaturisce dall’immaginazione. L’Urbanistica stessa è prima di tutto una previsione. Ed ecco che allora provo ad annebbiare la vista, offuscare lo sguardo per vedere oltre la visione.

Sei sempre alla ricerca dell’emozione pura: cosa vuoi trasmettere a chi si sofferma davanti alle tue opere?

Nei miei lavori, la pittura come la ceramica è istintiva, carica di emozioni e stati d’animo che ognuno, nel proprio intimo può leggere ed interpretare. Ciò che voglio trasmettere è un’emozione empatica e intuitiva. Un’essenza che non va individuata nella materia fuori di noi o al di là dalla realtà percepibile con i sensi, ma dentro di noi e dentro il mondo interiore in cui viviamo, imparando a guardare al di là dell’apparenza, oltre il visibile, attraverso l’emozione che alberga nella mente.

Ringrazio di cuore Ilaria Sperotto per il tempo che ci ha dedicato e ricordo ai lettori che potranno visionare on-line le opere d’arte della giovane artista sul sito www.criticoarte.org/galleria-gallery/ilaria-sperotto/ oppure venire in galleria ed osservare di persona la qualità esecutiva degli olii proposti.