Francesco Bartoli, Treasures
catalogue, Spazio Temporaneo, Milano, 1985
The works of Mariella Bettineschi are always arranged along significant paths. They outline paths and symbolic sequences. However, even before grasping the subtle design underlying his calculated layouts (usually the design of a mental journey), it affects the intimate quality of a sign that is born of evanescence and remains suspended in the allusion. Nor do you know whether it is more brittle than soft, drier and drained than soft, since the fractures themselves and the tears, the incisions and the burns to which the materials are subjected, fade into transparency.
It seems that the images, in the act of modeling, have had to do with the wind so they appear light. Threads of air, thin sheets, burrs of paper that a breath can change of place. Perhaps they are also deserted sands and powders.
The fact is that Bettineschi pursues the jagged, the dust, the volatile element of the image. On the contrary, it translates things into beats and breaths. Almost wanting to open the visible and capture the secret, look for the geography of the horns inside the perimeter of the solidity of the figures. It corrodes and liquefies in the name of the fluid.
For such an attitude, for such a pronounced warning of minimal values, I understand his fondness for the character of Paolo Uccello fantasized by Marcel Schwob in imaginary Portraits: for an eye, I mean capable, to undo the inert petroleum of the world, obsessed from the vertigo of the cigliazione and so lost in the movement of the lines and the colors to rob the woman who loved him and all the beings, their traits, to throw them, finally liberated, in the laborious forge of the forms and thus renew the miracle of creation . He “did not know the joy of confining himself to the individual; he did not live anywhere; he wanted to get up above all places. ” And in the end “no one understood his paintings anymore. No more could be seen than a tangle of curves. Neither the earth nor the plants nor the animals nor the men could be seen “.
Only a web of elements, fringes, lines, points. Or rather, a weaving of forms in which you see figures in the auroral state in a sort of renewed principle of things.
It is a mythography of inventio, this, which helps to decipher the search for that fund and vortex of images that drives Mariella Bettineschi. It contains the creational metaphor of pulling out a submerged continent; a distant world with which to reunite.
In an intense page of notes, written while the Treasures were being born, which are now being exposed in Milan to the Temporary Space, I read this quick observation: “Denial, explosion, denial. / Denying the world. Vitality of the negative. Erme. / Then the world explodes again, as gesture and sign number “.
Therefore the appearance must be broken, broken, ground; corroded fixity to the advantage of the vibratile. And the “world”, once eclipsed, made to break out again on a higher level: in the knowledge, in fact, of what the artist calls “number”.
In this statement, apart from the obvious “solve et coagula” evoked behind words, it is particularly interesting to take into account the very strong nomenclature, considering that terms like “explosion” and “deeds” are certainly not on the side of a quintessential and ethereal quality of experience or an aseptic disembodiment.
There is an anxiety to link the opposites, a desire to match the staff with the idea, which aims at the senses, the body, the bill concretely subject matter of the works.
When the negative exercise emerges in relation to Erme, that negative is one with the destruction of the existing, with silence and the cancellation of what it is, waiting to make room for a new vision. And it is then, above all in the long reliquaries, that the suspended register of the image finds wide progress. It is not for nothing that the display cases that guard the “omens”, the signs that are somnambulistic in some way, intuited by the mind, stretch and tend like loopholes. They also buy the path of a path and “walk”, I would say, on the horizon. Here they are landscapes, observation posts, desert places made just to contemplate. Even rocks, gorges, mountains that tell the impetuous advancement of a thought that pursues its faraway imago.
There, while he spies in a light just enough to untangle profiles and dark shapes, a luminescence of cave spreads, limiting, as emitted from below, into the interstices and the folds of ashes. Sometimes we meet instead a black page of heaven. And it is the velarium of a fantastic constellation, a film of the ground dragged by air by kite tails, where a terrestrial form, fading, transmigrates into the nebula and galaxy. An astral body, but still imbued with sensitive memories and sometimes touched by the soft movements of a graceful and feral animality.
Signs of divinized bodies in stars appear; a breath of hair, feathers, hair, and refoli, as happened in the imagination of the ancients. And in the imaginary hinging of the flesh with an eternal semblance of its echoes with no-time, the oxymoron is spatialized, to say it with the words of the author, “fantapittorico” of the constellations of the leopards “. About which it is worth noting that already the installation of Orfeo a few years ago, with its large black wing, waning and finally lying on the floor, unraveled the antitheses connecting certain reasons of the darkness with the umbrellas diaphragms of a polyptych of opalescent papers. It united in a fallen circle and ascent. And it could be read, this link dreamed between the medusean attraction of the deep, between the black and the lightness of the feathers, on a score placed at the center of the composition: it was the theme of the work (perhaps the main reason), aimed at changing the subjects in song, their wild and obscure currents in “volantes sirènes”.
The artist, it is necessary to insist, does not totally blind the bodily evidence of the elements. It preserves tactility and colors. After all, he seeks the eurythmy that presides, even in the fading and collapse of phenomena, to the natural order. And he wants her alive, still breathing.
Abandoning himself to the resources of painting, which are so close to the promises of myth, he tries to capture it in the moment he appears. It is not a figure nor an object in particular, but the splendor of which a figure sometimes wraps itself and which alone can testify.
Tremiti, motility, ardors transmitted to the subjects are the tests of the heart that the painting makes visible. From them, only from them, the value (and the price) of such an intimate digging passion.
Well, now, after the Erme and the following Sightings, it is made to record a burst of light. After the wait and the segmented path on the edge of the cave, something like a fire of the sight has arrived. The form began to crackle and burn, the works were transformed into gifts with a royal appearance.
The artist can rightly call them Treasures, as the memories, fixed in gold, of his journey.
Which gold? It is the series of solar metaphors composed with the simplest tools, with papers and paints. From a little (through a fervent technical procedure and from the trial of fire) he has drawn a luxurious overabundance. The cards are no longer cards, but tunnels, exquisite goldsmith work, ornaments worthy of Sherazade.
Looking at them I have the impression of seeing the gold masks or the cases of Mycenae again. The barbaric jewels of another time and another space when the East was not yet divided from the West. Fibules, ribbons, mysterious tools.
In the task of transformation Mariella Bettineschi knows how to move the present, this moment and this card, in the distant fabulous. He suspends it in a different that resembles the archaic. But it is not the savage obtained from the surviving museographic findings of the survivor. It is instead the “here and now”, changed sign, which has taken on the shine of a rediscovered eden and flashes the circularly returning background of the images that besiege the desire.
If it has the semblance of the ancient, this happens because it is already a memory for the future. And, what is most important, once again knit impulsiveness and refinement, materiality and stylization in a single knot, since nothing could be imagined as more fragilely precious than these laminae from which they exude impetuous configurations.
In the web of chimeras that also fire has helped to shape, imprinting concretions of enamels, the oxymoron, the dream of the wild cultivated in pictorial alchemy, always surfaces.
Thanks to such a bond, the fan of the senses widens: they are animals and kites, wings, masks and landscapes, mountains and decorations. But above all that vibrating figurativity that the artist has pursued (from which more precisely has been left to encircle) is always raised in listening to its original: the fibers and the tangles of the countries in the shade.
So it is true what he tells me: “Today I understand that I have always painted, without knowing it, landscapes. Nothing but landscapes “.