The dressing of the angel

The freedom of movement that Mariella Bettineschi has found in her work, in her overall work attitude, of recent years, we have already had the chance to compare it in a recent occasion to a particular condition of the spirit whose name has impressed us: “thoughtful”, because we seem to hold together concentration and lightness, reflection and abandonment, preliminary study and suspension of knowledge in the act.

Elio Grazioli, Skira, 1996

 

 

 

The freedom of movement that Mariella Bettineschi has found in her work, in her overall work attitude, of recent years, we have already had the chance to compare it in a recent occasion to a particular condition of the spirit whose name has impressed us: “thoughtful”, because we seem to hold together concentration and lightness, reflection and abandonment, preliminary study and suspension of knowledge in the act.
Not only that: it also puts in evidence the slow process of fascination that Bettineschi really undergoes in the fragment, collecting – materially or photographically, or mentally, mnemonically … – materials, objects, various suggestions, and surrounding them, leaving them around him, until something “clicks” and from the accumulation, from the list, the work is born, indeed the series of works, because that something becomes image and language, imago indeed, or matrix of images (the artist often uses matrices, shapes, molds, repetitions …).
This graphic and iconographic exercise leads the thought to trespass, to sow references and postponements, marking at the same time of itself all that touches, expanding, opening and expanding in “understanding”. Like dots, polka dots, circles and holes, which sometimes recur as a sort of brand of origin and appropriation, and which also allow us to put into life what these works, studies, margins in the notes, as Bettineschi has entitled his first collection.
The aesthetic equivalent of this process allows then to describe the new freedom of artistic practice of Bettineschi as something equidistant from the traditional practices of painting and sculpture, which comes to terms with what the avant-garde remains unavoidable, as well as not to forget, from the ready made by Duchamp to the installation and the relationship with architecture and the environment; something, we would say, better inscribed in terms like the French “depeindre”, which we could give back with an Italian “di-pingire” – and with a correspondent
s-affect for what concerns the three-dimensionality, something that is that in painting also contains the freedom of its opposite, the necessity of its negation also, the incongruity of its heterogeneity.

To paint, to draw, to scratch, to cut, to glue, to model … to work the materials and the images from inside, but together without suffocating them with an imposed gesture that is intended to be decisive, definitive; and at the same time allowing oneself to be captured by automatism, by the external solicitation of the image and the matter, and let the thought chase the differences, as if, following a thread of its own, only learned at that moment to conclude a sentence, to dismiss a image, and in the meantime it is found, grows on itself and is formed.
It is an idea of ​​form, that which derives from it – and at the same time it preludes -, which, to introduce a Heideggerian expression on purpose, “dwells” the work, dwelling “poetically” (“poetically inhabits man …” in fact Heidegger resumes from the verses of Holderlin) which preserves and frees the sense, keeping it together hidden and manifest. It is an offering that does not impose but draws to itself, a presentation that means questioning: what do we see? What do we think?
So many images, many signs collected and sown in the meantime by Mariella Bettineschi are arranged before our eyes: what binds the shape of a panther, the silhouette of a flower, a star, a house, a cross … .and again: a color , a cutout, an open and retouched book, an engraved copper sheet, a metal relief …?
A particular sequence in the meantime emerged, among others, clearer and more insistent, more structured. First of all, they are “dresses”, of shapes such as models and dresses: from the drawings as a workshop of a milliner – with their contours, hatches, erasures, numbers, letters and other indications – to the actual models – of materials and different colors, cut and folded and rolled up directly.
But that’s not all, because the series is born and goes along with a twin that indicates another dwelling, the most literal of architecture: here then, first of all (something is still prepared at the level of their three-dimensional transposition), traces of fortresses, castles and walls, which mimic the designs of the clothes and refer to it without doubt (sometimes it is high Bergamo, the traces of its ancient walls, proving that what you have before your eyes is painted, or, as they say, “In hand” …).
But why fortresses, why walls? Bettineschi evidently sees the garment primarily as protection, as defense and safeguard: the dress is the first fortress that man builds around.

One thinks, for example, inevitably, of the question of the body – which is what the garment protects – today again so much on the agenda in the work and reflection of the artists, of the last generation. And then you think of the rest, again inevitably, to the question of fashion, not just that of clothing, but that of art: taking care is Bettineschi’s answer, the fortress is a cardinal virtue.
And again: if the dress is the first fortress, the fortress is in turn a dress (there are other clothes that literally depict fortresses: at least remember those made by the whimsical eighteenth-century modists in particular to dress bridesmaids in the role of “towers” “In chess games, living or in miniature, even before in risky allegories or theatrical scenes).
But at Bettineschi, rather than contamination, it is important to show us the gesture and the common thought of architecture, of the project and of the occupation of space, and of the invention and creation of the habit. To do so, his clothes do not have to be real clothes, they are not actually wearable – nor on the other hand, not surprisingly, they refer to the history of the dress, not even to the avant-garde ones, with examples moreover, so striking – as his maps are not true maps: too small or too large the clothes to be worn by bodies so doubly absent, too inaccurate and free maps to induce construction or recognition.
Then, sometimes, in other parallel works emerge – a third series that completes the two – other further indications, such as the reference to the angels: clothes for the angels then? (Who knows how great are the angels or the souls?). Then a phrase comes back to mind, enigmatic if taken to the letter of Merleau-Ponty: “We do not understand how a Spirit could paint”, to be read therefore: “We can not paint without a body”, but “Who knows how to paint one? spirit?”.
One could begin to respond by taking, for example, back to the letter a reflection that has always been recurrent on the art that sees it as an “expression of moods”: therefore a dress, a color, a material, a form not for each state of mind, but, literally, as moods. And again walls to protect them.

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