Rovigo, November 1st 2020
Elisa Bertaglia

I am not used to write a text starting from an empty page. I usually start from something that already exists, from what I have written in the past, or from the indications given when an artist applies to an award. Now I am almost in difficulty; I try to collect my thoughts. The incipit is always necessary. We could say that this text has born in Milan, in a bar drinking a Jasmine tea with Martina… and eating five jam biscuits, of course.

Precisely after twelve months from the opening of my last solo show at her gallery, the lockdown would have started: March 2019 – March 2020. Today we are getting closer to the calendar end of this difficult and complex year, and Martina and I have thought to narrate this working period through a ‘spot’ exhibition. And we decided to call it just like this. Spot. Like a small parenthesis in this path; like to stop and take a breath, to assess the situation; like to say “here we are!”. With no narcissism nor presumptions like a bright circle in a shaded area. This exhibition is an essential and minimal selection of original works: some of them have been realized at the end of the 2019, others have been made during the last quarantine in 2020. They are mainly paintings born from four long travels very important to me: to New York, China, Japan and Miami.

During our lasting friendship, Martina and I have grown up a lot together, also thanks to an explicit, mutual and continuous confrontation. If the solo show Concerto. Singing over the Bones – curated by Rossella Farinotti – marked the turning point for my work, since then I tried to push my research always a step further. Without denying what I did before, I tried to reinvent the way I used to represent my poetic, studying and forcing my works towards a more essential both formal and aesthetic language. I pursued an ‘simple’ harmony that has been very hard to reach, and it still is, but that for sure it imposed a more ‘disciplined’ attitude towards everything I realize.

Elisa Bertaglia
Brambles II, 2020
Olio on canvas
65×50 cm

In the show you can find some apparently monochrome black paintings. Other artworks on paper are made with an obsessive juxtaposition of leaflets and grey glazes, in which the image and symbol become sign. Other paintings have a more intimate and spiritual character, they present a hieratic, oneiric and mystic image, supported by evocative drawings on hanging silks.

During my research I progressively made more and more daring and risky choices, that could reflect a unitary idea of my poetics and its evolution, and a new and independent line of experimentation. Some of the represented elements refer to the Japanese imaginary; others recall philosophical reflections above eastern and Asiatic doctrines related to western symbolism and language. In fact the narration in the last year undertook a path more complex and meagre: I forced my rich vocabulary of symbols and characters towards a cultural miscellaneous and a necessary selection. The tension of these new works reflects itself also in the titles, that – if until today have always been given for series  of works – now they are mostly linked to the single painting and have a major importance in the development of the work.

This new period for my artistic path – which I personally believe is a growth still in progress – is the result of various experiences, but also and foremost of a work based on the essential strong relationship with my colleagues and work partners and based above an active dialogue that has been brought foreword during the years. For this reason in the last months Martina and I (and also Marco, Rossella, Sarah, Martin, … and obviously my life partner Gabriele) have never stopped to speak and discuss. The root of my path is the curiosity to discover everything is around us, and the necessity to calling myself into question thanks to the constant encounter/clash with the people I estimate and I am lucky to work with.

Elisa Bertaglia
Brambles #3, 2020
Oil, pastels and graphite on acid-free paper
30,5×23 cm

Exactly for this reason, between me and Martina there is an active narration, that especially these artworks reflect.  Being and artist or a gallerist is a profession and a choice for life; inevitably every time that we see each other, we discuss over our decisions and projects with the enthusiasm to develop always something new. So it is, a Jasmine tea cup gave the perfume to all this. Made us reflect above the spring spent isolated, and the following difficult months. I missed meeting up with Martina in the early morning, arriving to her gallery with two croissants and having breakfast looking at the new works by the other artists of the gallery. But taking the distances from every form of victim complex, I also have to admit I am among the luckiest artists: having my studio at home allowed me to work with no interruptions also during the quarantine months. And I could do that with an unusual calm and a long physiological perfect time.

Now our desire is to arrive to the end of this year – awful, let’s say it –, turning the page and show you a little spot of the good we had.

This post is also available in: Italian