The natural complexity of imagination
A creative and expositive journey which combines, or rather mixes
the works produced, i.e. the pictures in its traditional and figurative
sense, characterised by a strong and immediate taste of naturalistic
expressionism, and their own disclosure in a landscape to
appear incongruent or integrated in a green, open surroundings or
in urban contexts, on a stage, amidst gipsy or circus camp tents.
One immediately perceives the consistent unsteadiness provided by
the picture itself, which implies immobility and refers to the closeness
and to the artificial lights of the show room with its own special
rituals and rhythms, as well as to the mobility of the landscape,
which implies and suggests going, walking, wandering, getting
trough as we watch things dynamically (instead of frontally) from
left to right like we use to do when reading or observing a photograph
to make it ours.
These are pictures of the landscapes including Barbara Pecorari’s
paintings, the latter sometimes carefully arranged, sometimes just
left there in very casual manner. In these pictures she includes herself,
just like a soft presence, almost a mirage, like the self-portrait
of a wandering artist within a tale that reads like an autobiography,
a walking diary or a travel book at the same time, private and
intimate under certain respects, but which also intends to disclose
the artificiality of art, rather of the arts, as this artwork pools very
different styles by contamination, allusion and visual assonance.
The artist hides herself, disguises herself, dresses up and becomes
something acknowledgeable and at the same time different from
what she is, turning herself into a quotation, a reference and an
allusion to a fantastic visual sphere drawn from the movies, the circus,
the show world, the comics and from the adventure, or rather
by its lights and shades – Charlot, the bride, the water bearer from
the Christmas cribs with a mountain behind her back resembling a
pyramid, an ephebic garçon, an affected sea-white she-clown, a cotton
winged star, the scarecrow, a ballerina dancing on her tiptoes
and so on. They are enchanted, poetic metamorphoses suspended
between childhood’s sweet dreams and literary citations, the charm
of secretly cultivated quiet fantasies that emerge here and mix with
the artist’s other disguise and language: that of painting, which
gives up its will and need to be overriding and absolute on the basis
of Barbara Pecorari’s personal story, but also of the traditionally
pre-eminent social and cultural status assigned to painting on a
creative level. Yet the work encompasses all of this, all that can be
seen and that is shown to please eyes and emotions.
It is a way to talk about herself and to tell stories mixing different
languages, as a way to camouflage herself, to hide herself and
to dress up: a quotation like a reference to the imagination, to a
complexity here becoming the clarity, order, patterned classics, serene
revelation of aesthetic solutions speaking a varied, multiform
language. From painting to body language, from landscapes and
settings to the reference to coded visual icons running under the
observer’s skin while illuminating the meaning of the image, up to
photography: they are figurative and linguistic mixes exploited and
measured with secret harmonies, delicate and airy balances, combined
with secret expressions from other languages, from cinema to
circus, as previously mentioned.
However, there is no trace of baroque artificiality, replaced by nuances
drawn from the commercials and its graphic and communicative
immediateness, the tidiness in the making of images and
references, so strictly tight, indispensable and necessary that they
cannot be either rhetoric or intellectual, nor even confuse or spurious.
When we look at a domestic image, for example, the self-portrait
of a wild woman bent on a workbench with a colourful picture
beside her, a work recalling leaves rustling in an open, windy landscape
in contrast both to this housewife, Jane, and her immobility
focused on shooting, as well as to the chromatic language of photography
itself. The black – white contrast of the photography and
the chromatic apparition of the paintings, also used in other occasions,
causes these latter to stand out as phantasmal shapes and
figures, as realities inserted into a dream with all the complications
that may be suggested by such a contamination in terms of imagination
routes followed, weaved and elaborated by the observer.
We have an Italian – European in general – anthropic landscape,
simulating a wild, free, spontaneous nature which instead has been
wisely elaborated, shaped and defined by the humans in the course
of a centuries old creation process, traditional and slowly innovative
at the same time. Therefore, the background landscape is an
artificial invention as well. And this reveals a subtle romantic melancholy
allowing us to enter and be completely involved into this
“artificial naturalness”, where the artist is a discrete, measured,
almost whispered presence in the wood and in the fields, like an
object amongst other objects. This quiet, ecstatic, contemplative
attention allows to win back what has been lost: the capacity to
watch and listen. It is linked to walking, a very human trace of the
world. This is what was done by the most important English Land
Art artists, Hamish Fulton and Richard Long, as opposed to the vehemence
and the distortion operated by their American colleagues.
The pleasure of observation and the love for nature instead was
typical of such an artist like Claudio Costa (1942 – 1995).
Of course, Barbara Pecorari belongs to post Land Art, due to her
ironic, amused, funny attitude and the slightly desecrating smile in
her images, with respect to or even in opposition to her previous
works, an explosion of colours with the regret for the great painting
of the late nineteenth century, from the Impressionists to Van
Gogh, the Expressionists up to Post Modernism. A melancholy for
the “maniera” that clashes against the awareness of the impossibility
of pursuing it today. In the end, it is a delicate, wise walk
through contrasts, oppositions and the different options, perhaps
without the will to make a choice, delighted by an infinite number
of possible existences and words that keeps on multiplying touching
our eyes and heart. Barbara Pecorari’s tightrope walking become
more and more risky, to charm, captivate and involve us.
Chairman of the National Academy of Arts of Parma
If an uncommon artist loves telling a story of trees, shrubs, cane thickets and woods
on great canvasses where brush strokes come together and overlap like leaves borne
by branches; and if the same painter decides to make herself and integral part of the
painting; if the same imaginative author feels rock and bark beyond what a furtive
animal of the woods (perhaps a wild cat?) would, and thinks that the best gallery in
which to exhibit herselfand her works is the very nature from which her inspiration,
input, and thè 'bang' for a new artistic era came, then it is the moment to begin
seeing things in a new way and perhaps re-define our habitual judgments on modern
art in relation to
This is the case of Barbara Pecorari who, in this hook (of practical life but a little
theatrical and above all virtual) has written the story and evolution of her own painting.
Fifteen chapters told by canvasses instead of phrases; by leaves instead of words.
We begin at the great tree from which hang paintings which sway in the breeze of
the hills; then, the cat hairs among dry branches in mysterious allusions; the author
then becomes a branch which imperceptibly blends with the burnt lands of Siena
colours; the yellow of a fabled wood seeks to illuminate the dullness of dry leaves;
light blue legs are an extension the blue sky at sunset; red hat, red arms and a red tub
identify with the burning colour of the painting of a windy bathouse; a girl in a tutu
drinks a fragment of a Divisionist table; the girl with the hat is fascinated by whirling
leaves which come on like a swarm of bees from a petrified trunk; lunar-grey rock
combines with the opaque rock of the hills, oppressed and covered by the earth.
And further figures: a pitchfork overturning thè remnants of the same day after day;
contemplating a story in painting of useless cultivation; on the shore of a lake to fill a
at least a jug with poetry; brushing the ground around cypress trees to make them
green and yellow like a painting from a dream and, in the end, the night with
black on black which moves away in the second scene leaving only the false hope of
a vangoghian light.
Is it reality, theatre, cinematography, painting or photography or literature?
The artist's journey finishes here but palpable traces remain - these are her works
realized through a particular technique - spiritual in its understandings but material
in its execution. A little impressionist, a little divisionist, action painting in an
aristocratic gesture, metaphysical in its solitude of lucid ideas; always contaminated
but not banal; on the contrary - enchanting.
TIZIANO MARCHESELLI art expert and journalist of "Gazzetta di Parma"
In the twists and turns of a journey
undertaken several years
ago by the young painter Barbara Pecorari, from Reggio Emilia,
we recognize her love for the landscape where she happily
spent her childhood, as well as the wild joy to daub her fingers
and to rise waves of shiny colours feasting our eyes. The
magic of poetic varnishing and linguistic invention interpose
themselves between sensible object and work of art, touching
the spectator. From her hands, another parallel world “aside”
arises, in which reality tends to yield to the forms of thought
and the naturalistic view is overcome through excited rhythms
and music-like chromatic alterations. Indeed, colours, thick
and concrete, are chosen on the basis of their expressive potential
rather than of their adherence to reality. From these
heavy pastes, spread with fingers, a spoon or a paintbrush
tail in accordance with the artist’s feelings, there still emerge
trees, skies and wheat fields – in fact, the elements of a
landscape which always comes back to the surface, because,
as Henri Bergson used to say, conscience and the world are
tightly bound to each other, and the image cannot be but the
link between matter and memory. A landscape – a real one
most of the times (see for example “The fear of separation”)
– which the artist observes through the eyes of a child, as if
one could build up one whole world from a single image. For
this reason, the catalogue does not merely present a sequence
of painting: each work is accompanied by the first frame of
a film, conceived, realised and interpreted by the artist and
photographed by Cristian Iotti (except the last shot, taken by
Carlo Vannini). Many different plots, sketched out and then
just left open like in Italo Calvino’s novel “If on a winter’s
night a traveller”, where only in the last pages the different
openings merge into one single discourse, into one pictorial
“Journey” during which Barbara Pecorari’s paintings, at
first photographed one by one in a poplar grove, in front of a
church or on a theatre stage, eventually line up along the road
taken by the artist and, with her, by those who wish to know
the continuation of her story.
Some painters stake everything on
technique (and so they
risk to descend into commercial clichés); some painters only
pursue their ideologies (but they end up to become somewhat
abstract intellectuals); some painters are artistically poor,
but let us leave them to themselves.
Then there are (a few) painters who tell complex stories, somewhat
dramatic, for which they are not just the authors, but
also, and especially, protagonist actors and even figurative
elements in the painting, together with trees, skies, church
vaults, wheat fields, pictures hung on branches like sheets
hung out to dry.
Barbara Pecorari belongs to this handful of brave artists for
whom inventive and imagination are a creed and a way of
living. In occasions like this, we are not merely talking about
an exhibit or a volume / catalogue: it might be a happening, it
might be a travel through times or in the country around our
home place; and if it was fashion show? an oriental dream? a
comedy or a horror film?
For sure, this is a new way of working on painting by keeping
the traditional characteristics of the “painted” picture and yet
by “paging” it – instead of by means of usual frames – with
landscape glimpses, train station platforms, monuments to
ride, dancer stages, ancient arcades, mysterious night time
apparitions, solitude deserts, oceans with waves clotted like
And she is always inside there, the author – actress – painter
(they look like many, because they are different and interchangeable)
in a perfectly articulated scenario and in a scenery
which is always new and seemingly invented, where movements,
however, are well calculated and synchronized.
It is an impossible journey in a non-existing space, with no
starting point and with an enigmatic outcome. What more
could you wish for…?
MARCO VISCONTI Art expert and poet
Barbara Pecorari is a friend of mine.
She is not only good. She
also shares a lot with me. Number one, we are both unconventional
artists who do not allow repetitions. We both like to keep changing
themes and inspiration (and possibly even techniques). Number
two, we both reside somewhere across the borderline between the
province of Parma and the one of Reggio Emilia, which is – I believe
– quite positive both form an artistic and a social point of
view, as this area merges the elegance and the culture of former
Marie Louise’s city and the practical, organized entrepreneurship of
“Tricolore” city (the city where theItalian three-colour flag was born).
Ok, we may well be parted by onefull generation, but after all, what
are some thirty years as comparedto infinity...!
However, I am always very pleasedto promote a young, deserving artist.
In this case, this unique diarycatalogue(first released by Barbara
a few years back and comingtoday in a more mature but yet
very peculiar and exclusive style)gave me the opportunity to reinforce
a personal relationship anda pictorial collaboration under
the leadership and the directionof Tiziano Marcheselli, another
most amazing artist who wrote forBarbara no less than a quatrain
«poem» disguised in the book in form of foot-notes.
The idea of a catalogue that is also a book and a diary must have
pleased him just like it did to me.
The ordinary celebrating texts are replaced by photos and pictures
that look like the short notes of a journey or the agenda of the artist
containing ideas painted with a superior technique and souvenirs
of the places she mostly loves (either countryside or monuments),
of her friends (although a bit extravagant ones) and most of all of
by that touch of performance that provides a sparkling style without
ever being conventional.
Let us then welcome many more initiatives of this kind, to stir and
rejuvenate an art branch risking paralyzing in the «déjà vu» and the
«tried out ».
Five years after our first meeting,
looking back to what it was and
what it is, both Barbara and I are quite happy about the way things
turned out to be.
I have started Artemoddes, a socially useful NPO that will introduce
emerging talents while Barbara has matured her expressiveness
and is living her dream.
“Taking ideas out of imagination and creativity into real world is
not an easy task but you achieve it, your dreams come true”.
This quotation welcomes visitors to the web page that I determinately
wanted to create to provide greater visibility to emerging
talents. Something difficult to do through traditional channels.
Barbara asked me to be in her catalogue and I have accepted her
invitation with excitement. Barbara and I understood each other
immediately. We have a sense of mutual respect that has not faded
through the years; rather, it has strengthened and created a strong
bond that will withstand time and distances.
I immediately realized that she was an artist who is continually
looking for ways of expressing her inner fire.
When she paints it seems as if her hand is driven by explosive emotions.
However, we should not forget that every artist should be able to
create emotions without worrying about what they do and they
should do. They should transform their work from a real object to
an emotional subject thanks to the emotions that they bear inside
The journey Barbara made in the recent years has led her to found
her own law of shapes and colours. Without being disrespectful,
conceited or without using flattery, I think I can compare Barbara
to Cezanne in terms of ability of observing an object and being able
to transport it on to the canvass with the shape of her emotions.
President of Artemoddes NPO