Curses, Spells and other Magics

April 19th 2024/July 7th 2024
Opening: Friday April 19th 2024 @6.30PM

Curses, Spells and other Magics—the two-person exhibition by Elisa Bertaglia and Beatrice Spadea curated by Martina Corbetta—is an exhibition that places in dialogue two artists similar for their practices and researches, but distant for their personalities.

Bertaglia was born in Rovigo (Italy, 1983) and graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. Now she lives and works in New York and takes part in this project with the results of her first years of experimentations in this city. Again, she confirms her almost obsessive interest in different media that lead her from year to year to prove her herself with something unexpected, even though always recognizable. Graphite and oil, paper or canvas, large or small formats, new materials such as ceramic and concrete, aluminum or gold: Bertaglia preserves her features, breaking new boundaries with this show. Rose gold is certainly the most striking choice. Spadea—who was born in Monza in 1995 and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan—presents her new works in this exhibition with all the enthusiasm of an artist who wishes to confirm her own distinctive characteristics, expressing herself through her stylistic features in an evident phase of empowerment, with particular attention to the use of new materials. Parallel to Bertaglia, Spadea shows lively interest in graphite and oil, performed now in the batik technique, creating in recent months new works of huge dimensions.

The new cycle of works presented by Elisa Bertaglia reflects a natural evolution of her artistic and stylistic practice. This addresses the artist’s curiosity and fascination to the natural elements of works of Nepalese and Indian origin preserved at the Rubin Museum in New York. These elements are in dialogue with her gestural and abstract approach. Bertaglia has initiated a new production suggested by Buddhist ancient masterpieces (ink paintings on fabric). Bertaglia put her topics in conversation with religious themes of Nepalese art, creating unexpected relations and new perspectives to look at her work through. The concepts of ‘oneiric’ and symbolic, which have always been present in Bertaglia‘s poetics and practice, are now apart from previous references. Elements like intertwined plants and fantastic leaves—made in oil or graphite through a highly refined drawing, in dialogue with some paintings of the series A Dance—here they take on a new conceptual meaning. Central to her artistic journey for this new project was the exhibition Bertaglia visited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Africa & Byzantium: Bertaglia saw some incredible paintings and writing on papers representing rituals and formula against evil spells and curses. If in her earlier works the adjective ‘fantastic’ took on an almost fairy-tale value, in these new works it is replaced by the concept of magical. “Symbolic rituals and thresholds are present, but the whole atmosphere is powerfully cast in a as lucid as distorted reality. The daydreaming vision, the unconsciousness, have been set aside to unveil an awareness of ‘the present’ that the artist investigates: they produce spells, bewitch materials and invent worlds in order to somehow tame it”.

Beatrice Spadea in Curses, Spells and other Magics approaches new themes, originated from her previous artistic research close to dreams and dreamlike visions often harmonized by the natural landscape. Now, these projections speak of nocturnes and fantastical worlds, where in the evening mystery, amid fading lights and emerging shadows, a universe of infinite possibilities is born. It is precisely where the vision is limited that the imagination takes shape. The night with its veil of mystery shapes known realities as a landscape of spiritual perceptions meeting fantastic worlds. Night is the gateway that opens to imagination, but also to memory and oblivion. It is the nourishment of myths, legends and chimeric creatures that inhabit the darkness. It is precisely the night that fueled Spadea‘s desire to explore unknown worlds populated by exotic plants and mysterious creatures, where during the day these beings remain hidden from the light and at night reveal their presence. Metaphor for transformation. Spadea was inspired by medieval herbaria and bestiaries, in which the known world was ordered and classified, resulting in fantastic creatures inspired by nature of pure invention. Jurgis Baltrusaitis’ work Fantastic Middle Ages stimulated the artist’s imagination, plunging her into the medieval mythological world where heads emerging from intertwined branches created a mystical aura, a space between witchcraft and magic, esotericism and science fiction. Reverie of the Forest—a series of works made in graphite on layered Japanese paper representing branches—is the connecting point between the previous research and the current study. Now the branch is no longer the most obvious presence in the work, but the background, the nocturne, where the flat, disorienting color hints at an endless perspective. From here, mysterious flora, medieval herbaria and fantastic creatures explore the space and populate Spadea‘s works.

This post is also available in: Italian